Center Lends Support to Conference on Freedom of Religion in Geneva

June 2008 – Geneva

During 21-23 June 2008, Professor Cole Durham, Professor Robert Smith, and Dr. David Kirkham from the ICLRS participated in the annual meeting of the organization Focus on FoRB. This conference included the participation of a number of distinguished scholars, including Asma Jahangir, the U.N. Special Rapporteur of Freedom of Religion or Belief. During the 3-day session, the conference discussed a number of important topics, including the status of Islam in Europe, identifying and responding to vulnerabilities, and current U.N. perspectives on the freedom of religious belief. The Center took on a more prominent role in this year’s meeting, including the arrangements for the conference and logistical support. Special thanks are due to George and Kathleen Jarvis, who represent the Center as fellows in Geneva, Switzerland, and Marie Kulbeth, a BYU law extern in Geneva, as well as Jim and Joan Stevens, who represent the Center in Brussels, Belgium.

Gerard Noodt Foundation Established in Europe

June 2008 – Geneva

As a result of the generous support by the Noot family, the Gerard Noodt Foundation for Religious Freedom has been established in the Netherlands. It will assist with a number of important initiatives, including continuing sponsorship of the Strasbourg Consortium, an important initiative of the Center. The representatives of the Noot family made a presentation to the participants in the Strasbourg Conference Consortium in Geneva, Switzerland held in June 2008. This initiative was conceived by the desire of David Christensen, the Executive Secretary to the International Advisory Council of the Center and long-time support. David is related to the Noot family and has joined together with Sir Ari Noot, Hans Noot and Ari Noot, Jr., to create a foundation to honor the important contributions to religious freedom by their ancestor, Gerard Noodt (1647-1725). Gerard Noodt was…

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…

International First Freedom Award Recognition Dinner

On March 4, 2009, the Center and the family of Wayne C. Durham hosted a recognition dinner in honor of Professor W. Cole Durham, Jr.’s receiving the International First Freedom Award from the First Freedom Center in Richmond, Virginia. Professor Durham joins former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former President of the Czech Republic Václav Havel, and then-Prime Minister Tony Blair in receiving this prestigious award. “This event was intended to thank all of those who have contributed so significantly to the success of the Center. It is altogether fitting that in addition to honoring W. Cole Durham, Jr. for his tireless efforts on behalf of international religious freedom, others should also be recognized for their significant contributions, including Cole’s ever-supportive wife, Louise, the faculty and administration at BYU, and the International Advisory Council which has generously supported the efforts of the Center and the Center staff,” said Robert Smith, Managing Director of the Center. Professor Durham thanked his colleagues, his friends, and those who have supported both him and the mission of the Center over the years, stating “I am extremely honored and humbled to be recognized in this extraordinary manner. I wish to express my deepest gratitude for the great privilege it is to work with wonderful people on behalf of so great a cause, the cause of religious freedom. This has been the work of a lifetime, and I look forward to continuing this effort.”

The recognition dinner was attended by Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; Elder Wayne C. Hancock, Emeritus Member of the First Quorum of Seventy and his wife Connie; and many Brigham Young University dignitaries including John S. Tanner, Academic Vice President; Sandra Rogers, International Vice President; and Kevin Worthen, Advancement Vice President. Also in attendance were J. Reuben Clark Law School leaders including James D. Gordon, III, Interim Dean; Scott Cameron, Associate Dean; Mary S. Hoagland, Assistant Dean; Professor Reese Hansen; and Professor Stephen Wood. Business leaders in attendance included Joe Cannon, Editor of the Deseret News, and Ellis Ivory, Chairman of the Deseret News Publishing Company Board of Directors. The Center was represented by numerous members of the International Advisory Council: Gary and Lynn Anderson, William F. and Laura Atkin, Angus and Jenny Belliston, David and Mary Christensen, David and Julie Colton, John P. (Phil) and Barbara Colton, Mark and Janette Cressler, Kevin Duncan, Richard and Christena Durham, Allan and Carla Erb, Scott and Eva Isaacson, Duane L. and Erlyn G. Madsen, Arie Noot, Jr., Hans and Margriet Noot, Kelly and Tamra Reeves, and Bryce Wade. Those in attendance from the Center staff included Robert T. Smith, Managing Director; Elizabeth A. Sewell, Associate Director; Brett G. Scharffs, Associate Director; David M. Kirkham, Senior Fellow for Comparative Law and International Policy; Scott E. Isaacson, Executive Director for Latin America; Deborah W. Wright, Administrative Assistant; Suzanne Disparte, Casebook Manager; Shallie Ehlers, Secretary; April Peterson, Secretary; Joel Tay, Accountant. Recognized, although not in attendance, were Holly Rasmussen, Website Managing Editor, and Christine G. Scott, Director of Publications. Speakers at the dinner included Kevin Worthen, Jim Gordon, Duane and Evelyn Madsen, Richard Durham, W. Cole Durham, Jr., and Bill Atkin.

Center Welcomes Brett G. Scharffs as Associate Director

In August 2008 the Center was pleased to announce that Brett G. Scharffs has been appointed as an Associate Director of the Center. Professor Scharffs has worked closely with the Center in the past as a Regional Advisor for Asia and will continue to perform this function in conjunction with his new role as Associate Director. Welcoming this announcement, Cole Durham, Director of the Center, noted, “Professor Scharffs has been a great colleague and a major contributor to the work of the Center for many years, and we are looking forward to the added energy and insight he will bring.” Professor Scharffs has planned and participated in conferences in Asia and the United States, including the Center’s 2008 conference in India and conferences in China, Vietnam, Mongolia…

Dr. Tahir Mahmood Receives 7th Shah Waliullah Award

Dr. Tahir Mahmood, a member of the Center’s Academic Advisory Council has received the 7th “Shah Waliullah Award” for his outstanding contribution in the field of Islamic law. Dr. Mahmood has authored a large number of books often cited by the country’s higher courts and is known for his progressive views on Islamic law. This award is given periodically to honour eminent scholars who have done outstanding work in Social Sciences, Humanities and Law. It is awarded based on the recommendation of a high-profile jury consisting of internationally reputed scholars in a designated field. This year’s chosen field for the award was “Islamic Law in Comparative Perspective.” Dr. Tahmood is a former Chair of the National Minorities Commission and ex-Dean of Delhi University Law Faculty, Mahmood is Founder-Chairman of the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies at Amity University and a Member of the Law Commission of India.

Professor Durham Addresses Belgian Senate

 On July 10, 2008, Professor Cole Durham addressed Belgium’s Senate in a colloquium on the subject of independently monitoring religious freedom and discrimination. The conference, entitled “Church & State and Religious Freedom in the 21st Century: How can Religion contribute to Peace and Security? Emerging Religions and Educational Challenges,” is intended to address the growing presence of Islam in Europe and the relationship between Church and State in the 21st Century, among other issues. The colloquium was organized by Senator Filip Anthuenis and Professor Rik Torfs and also included speakers from the UK, Turkey, Poland and Belgium.

Associate Director Scharffs Appointed Francis R. Kirkham Professor of Law

September 2009 – Provo

ICLRS Associate Director Brett G. Scharffs has been appointed Francis R. Kirkham Professor of Law at the BYU Law School.  For more information about Professor Scharff’s appointment, and also the appointment of Professor Thomas R. Lee as Rex J. Maureen E. Rawlingson Professor of Law, please see the link below.

Professors Cole Durham and Tore Lindholm Assist with Human Rights Advocates Training Course in Jogyakarta, Indonesia

August 2009 – Yogyakarta

During 9-15 August 2009, ICLRS had the opportunity of joining with two Indonesian organizations, the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation and the TIFA Foundation, and the Oslo Coalition for Freedom of Religion or Belief in providing a Training Course for Lawyers on Freedom of Religion or Belief that was held in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. ICLRS Director Cole Durham served as one of the trainers along with ICLRS Academic Advisory Board Member Tore Lindholm, Project Group Chair for the Oslo Coalition. Professors Durham and Lindholm joined Indonesian experts Adam Pantouw, Renata Arianingtyas, Zainal Abidin, and Asfinawati in helping with the development of Indonesia-focused training materials and leading the actual training sessions….