Law and Religion: International Headline News

The International Center for Law and Religion Studies maintains a Headlines News service covering news about freedom of religion or belief internationally, sent to subscribers near daily (Monday – Saturday). All interested may subscribe to this service, free of charge, here.    

A searchable archive of Law and Religion Headlines, in three categories, may be found at the following links: [International News] [Europe News]  [U.S. News] 

Please note that the headlines posted do not necessarily reflect opinions or attitudes of members of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies. We strive for balance in presenting issues of potential interest to our readers. 

Colton Chair of Law and Religion Established

The J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University has established the Sterling and Eleanor Colton Chair of Law and Religion to honor the lives and contributions of Sterling and Eleanor Colton. This is the first chair established since 1992, and only the fourth endowed chair established at the law school. The endowment created by the chair will be used to benefit the work of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies. The International Center for Law and Religion Studies is actively engaged in research on the relations between governments and religious organizations and work…

Headlines compliance with GDPR (the EU General Data Protection Regulation)

Dear Headlines Subscribers: 

We note the coming into effect of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) on 25 May 2018. This is to inform you that we know of no conflicts with this regulation in our practice of gathering and holding subscriber information. (See our Privacy Policy here.) If you have any questions about this please contatct us at i[email protected]. Note that you may unsubscibe or otherwise manage your subscription at any time by clicking the link at the bottom of any list of headlines you receive.  Let us know if, after clicking the link, you are unable to sign in to your account. 

We appreciate your interest in our International Headlines service.

Donlu Thayer, Publications Director
International Center for Law and Religion Studies
J. Reuben Clark Law School
Brigham Young University
[email protected] 

ICLRS Leadership Weighs in on Masterpiece Cakeshop Decision

On Monday, 4 June 2018, the United States Supreme Court announced their decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. Seven of the court’s nine justices sided with the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado, who had refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple because he felt it violated his religous beliefs. ICLRS Director Brett Scharffs and Associate Director Elizabeth Clark were asked to weigh in on the decision. Both had signed an amicus brief in support of the cakeshop in this case.

Professor Scharffs spoke on the BYU Radio program Top of Mind with Julie Rose about the decision. In the interview he provided a basic understanding of the case as well as analysis of the decision. Professor Scharffs said that “the most important guidance given is that when a court or tribunal is weighing and balancing competing rights, it needs to be done in a fair-handed way.” He referred to the frequent use of the words hostility and neutrality in the decision….

BYU Law Students Compete at Moot Court Competition in Italy

Eight BYU Law students competed in an international Moot Court competition in Bologna, Italy, 6-7 March 2018. The competition was organized by the European Academy of Religion in collaboration with the International Consortium for Law & Religion Studies.

Teams from the United States and Europe argued a case before the European Court of Human Rights or the Supreme Court of the United States. The BYU law students were divided into two teams and argued before both. Pre-eminent scholars and actual judges from both jurisdictions made up the two Courts. European Court of Human Rights judges were Silvio Ferrari, Professor of Law and Religion at the University of Milan (Italy), Mark Hill QC, Professor at the University of Cardiff (UK), Pretoria (South Africa), Notre Dame (Australia), and Ann…

Robin Fretwell Wilson Receives the 2018 Thomas L. Kane Religious Freedom Award

Robin Fretwell Wilson was presented the Thomas L. Kane Religious Freedom Award at the 2018 J. Reuben Clark Law Society Annual Conference held in Salt Lake City, Utah the 15-17 of February. The award, named for General Thomas L. Kane, an influential and powerful advocate for the religious freedom of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during their migration to Utah and in the early days of the Church’s history, is presented to an individual who exemplifies the character and traits of Thomas L. Kane in upholding and defending religious freedom.

Robin Fretwell Wilson is the Roger and Stephany Joslin Professor of Law and director of the Family Law and Policy Program and the Epstein Health Law and Policy Program at the University of Illinois College of Law. She is the author or editor of eleven books, including The Contested Place of Religion in Family Law (editor, Cambridge…

Brett Scharffs Appointed to BYU Law School’s Rex E. Lee Chair

by Andrew Hoffman, BYU Law Student

On 15 November 2017, the J. Reuben Clark Law School held the final of this semester’s three investiture ceremonies. Professor Brett Scharffs was honored with appointment to the distinguished Rex E. Lee Chair, a position created to honor the late Rex E. Lee, a former Solicitor General, Dean of the Law School, and President of Brigham Young University. Dean Gordon Smith and Professor Cole Durham provided a few introductory remarks before Professor Scharffs was formally invested.

Dean Smith praised Professor Scharffs for his achievements in the field of legal scholarship. Elder Dallin H. Oaks, while president of BYU, remarked that it is the duty of the law school to produce great scholarship that is not just great in the eyes of church membership, but in the eyes of the general citizenry. Throughout his twenty years of teaching, Professor Scharffs has published in renowned legal journals and is well-known…

Article 18: From Rhetoric to Reality

Article 18: From Rhetoric to Reality
All Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief (APPG) 
October 2017

Article 18: From Rhetoric to Reality is a timely report. It is four years since the All Party Parliamentary Group’s first report Article 18: An Orphaned Right highlighted the situation of millions of people around the world who face persecution or discrimination because of their religion or beliefs. In the intervening years, violations of the right to freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) have not diminished, and discrimination and persecution in the…

Associate Director Gary Doxey receives Distinguished Eagle Scout Award

ICLRS Associate Director Gary Doxey was awarded the Distinguished Eagle Award from the Boy Scouts of America on 26 October 2017 in Provo, Utah. To be nominated for the Distinguished Eagle Award, past Eagle Scouts are required to have received their Eagle at least 25 years prior and have “received extraordinary, national-level recognition or eminence within their identified field.” They must also exhibit a strong record of community service and family values. Gary was previously awarded the Silver Beaver Award and the Outstanding Eagle Award. 

The Center congratulates Gary on the award. The full article on Gary’s award as well as a video interview with him can be found here

Prof. (Dr.) Tahir Mahmood Receives N.R. Madhava Menon Best Law Teacher Award 2017

Eminent jurist Tahir Mahmood has received the prestigious N R Madhava Menon Best Law Teacher Award as part of the Law Teachers Day celebrations. Honouring law teachers and law schools in India, the Society of Indian Law Firms (SILF) and the Menon Institute of Legal Advocacy Training (MILAT) have been observing Law Teachers Day in September since 2009. The awards were presented at the Law Teachers’ Day Award Function & Symposium held at the Hyatt Regency, New Delhi, on 9th September, 2017. The symposium focused on, “Restructuring LL.B courses to get graduates practice ready”. Attending the function in large numbers were Law Teachers, Vice Chancellors, and Directors. 

See more at Live Law:

Durham and Scharffs Plenary Speakers at 8th World Congress for Religious Freedom

Brett Scharffs and Cole Durham, Director and Founding Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, were among the distinguished plenary speakers at the 8th World Congress for Religious Freedom, sponsored by the International Religious Liberty Association (IRLA), held 22-24 August 2017 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. During the event, Professor Durham, “prolific author, editor, and international scholar” who is one of IRLA’s Advisory Directors and a member of its Panel of Experts, was presented with the International Religious Liberty Award of Honor for Global Impact in Promoting Constitutional Law, Human Rights, and Religious Freedom….

Honduran Ambassador to London Co-Hosts Goodwill Reception at BYU London Centre

His Excellency Ivan Romero-Martinez, Honduran Ambassador to London and most prominent diplomat for the Latin American group of ambassadors in the United Kingdom, co-hosted a goodwill reception and luncheon on 21 April 2017 at the Brigham Young University (BYU) London Centre, in association with Public Affairs representatives from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), and representatives of the International Center for Law and Religions Studies (ICLRS) at Brigham Young University Law School (USA). The Latin American diplomatic group comprises 21 countries in Central and South America. Supporting the Honduras Ambassador at the event were ambassadors and senior diplomats from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, Nicaragua, Panama and Paraguay….

Iraqi-Kurdistan Delegation Visits the Center

Under the auspices of the Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program, representatives of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s Ministry of Endowment and Religious Affairs visited the Center. The delegation included the Spokesperson and Director General of the Kurdistan Regional Government, Ministry of Endowment and Religious Affairs (MERA), who was responsible for creating Directorates for all of the religious minorities within the Ministry to assure that underrepresented groups had a voice within the government. Other ministry delegates represented Zoroastrian, Jewish, and Christian communities. 

Objectives of the visit included helping MERA strengthen interfaith cooperation…

Dr. Ganoune Diop Receives Thomas L. Kane Religious Freedom Award

(Originally published by Mormon Newsroom)

Dr. Ganoune Diop, director of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty for the worldwide Seventh-day Adventist Church, was given the Thomas L. Kane Religious Freedom Award by the J. Reuben Clark Law Society (Brigham Young University) recently in Philadelphia.

In presenting the award, Elder Lance B. Wickman, general counsel for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and emeritus member of the Seventy, thanked Dr. Diop for being a friend of the Church like Thomas L. Kane was a friend to the Church.

During its annual conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania…

Elizabeth Clark discusses the Johnson Amendment on BYU Radio

Top of Mind with Julie Rose, a BYU radio show focused on current events, interviewed Associate Director Elizabeth Clark in regards to recent religious freedom issues under President Trump. Professor Clark shared her insights on the Johnson Amendment and the President’s threats to repeal it, concerns surrounding the potential loss of tax exempt status for various churches and ancillary organizations associated with churches, the perception that religious freedom implies discrimination, and the recent travel ban.

While discussing the clash between those who believe that religious freedom is discriminatory and those who feel strongly that they should be able to act on their beliefs, Julie Rose asked what President Trump could do to protect religious freedom. Professor Clark explained that there is very little he can do since many of the issues we see have to do with state laws, not federal. She suggested that the most helpful action needs to occur on the congressional level by bringing together representatives of both sides of the issues to work through the difficult questions and come up with legislation that everyone can stand behind. 

In regards to Trump’s recent travel ban, Professor Clark said that people who care about religious freedom as a principle are very concerned about the perception of a Muslim ban. If you are an advocate for religious freedom, you have to be an advocate for all. “Religious freedom has to be religious freedom for everyone. You have to stand by the principle, otherwise you’re not really engaging in religious freedom. You’re engaging in religious favoritism and that’s just wrong.” 

This episode of Top of the Mind with Julie Rose is available here

Brett Scharffs named to Religious Freedom Institute’s Board of Advisors

Professor Brett Scharffs, Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at BYU Law School, has been named to the Board of Advisors of the newly organized Religious Freedom Institute (RFI) based in Washington, DC. RFI is an outgrowth of the Religious Freedom Project (RFP) at Georgetown University’s Berkeley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs. Formation of the new entity, which is “committed to achieving broad acceptance of religious liberty as a fundamental human right, the cornerstone of a successful society, and a source of national and international security,” was spearheaded by RFP partners Thomas Farr, Timothy Shah, Byron Johnson, and Kent Hill. Professor Scharffs is an alumnus of Georgetown University, where he earned a BSBA in international business and an MA in philosophy….

Scharffs’ paper “Why Religious Freedom? Why the Religiously Committed, the Religiously Indifferent, and Those Hostile to Religion Should Care” — Top 10 on SSRN

Center Director Brett Scharffs paper, “Why Religious Freedom? Why the Religiously Committed, the Religiously Indifferent and Those Hostile to Religion Should Care” has been listed on Social Science Research Network’s (SSRN) Top Ten download list in four categories: “Human Rights, Justice for Nonhuman Animals, Ecologies, Environments”; “Race, Ethnicity & Identity Politics”;  Political Behavior eJournals”; and “U.S. Constitutional Law: Rights & Liberties eJournals”.

The paper is available for download on SSRN at this link. The abstract for the paper is below:

Religious freedom: Is it the grandparent of human rights, or the neglected stepchild? As with…