February 2010 – Salt Lake City
Some 800 members of the J. Reuben Clark Law Society – attorneys, professors and students – gathered during 11-13 February in Salt Lake City for the Society’s Annual Conference, “Service for Good through the Law.” Participating as a panel were representatives of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, Director W. Cole Durham, Jr., Associate Director Robert T. Smith, and Fellows Program Manager Gayla Moss Sorenson, who spoke to the issue “Strengthening Religious Liberty Around the World.” The video presentation of this panel may be viewed here.
January 2010 – Kuala Lumpur
Representatives from the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at BYU, including International Advisory Council Chair Duane Madsen, ICLRS Historian Erlyn Madsen, IAC member Linda Nearon, and ICLRS Managing Director Robert T. Smith, participated in a very successful conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, during 29-31 January 2010. Addressing “Religion, Law and Governance in Southeast Asia: Comparative Legal Perspectives,” the conference was co-sponsored by the Center in cooperation with the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS), the Faculty of Law of the University of Malaysia, and the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies of Amity University (India). The conference Keynote Address by YAB Prime Minister of…
March 2010 – Geneva
W. Cole Durham, Jr., Susa Young Gates Professor of Law and Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at Brigham Young University, participated in a panel on defamation of religion and freedom of speech during the Geneva Summit for Human Rights, Tolerance and Democracy, held 8-9 March 2010 in Geneva, Switzerland. Organized by an international coalition of human rights NGOs, the Summit offered “dissidents and human rights activists from around the world a global platform and forum to share their personal struggles, their fight for freedom and equality, and their vision for how to bring change.” A full agenda for the Summit, as well as links to video recordings of presentations, is available here.
March 2010 – Jakarta
Participating via teleconference from the United States, Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at Brigham Young University, Professor W. Cole Durham, Jr., testified concerning Indonesia’s blasphemy law at a session of the Indonesia Constitutional Court (Mahkamah Konstitusi) in Jakarta on 24 March 2010. Recognized as a world expert in this matter, Professor Durham spoke during a Court session on a civil society petition for a review of the blasphemy/heresy law, in response to a request by seven non-governmental organizations: the Indonesian Legal Aid Institute Foundation; Imparsial, the Community Advocacy Studies Institute; the Indonesian Legal Aid Union; the Association of Human Rights and Democracy Study Centers; the Setara Community Association; and Desantara Foundation.
Professor Durham testified about relevant international norms, comparative experience, and why striking down Law No 1/PNPS/1965 on Abuse and/or Defilement of Religions would help promote social stability. This law prohibits heresy and blasphemy: it prevents individuals from public expressions or “religious based activities” that “resemble the religious activities of the religion in question, where such interpretation and activities are in deviation of the basic teachings of the religion.” He responded to questions from the Constitutional Court justices, representatives of the Indonesian government, and the Ulema Council, Indonesia’s leading Muslim clerical body. “It was a great honor and a privilege for me to be able to address the Court,” said Professor Durham.
Testimony in the case continued through the end of March, with a decision expected in mid April.
April 2010 – Provo, Oslo, Moscow, Kyiv
The International Center for Law and Religion Studies at Brigham Young University and has sponsored the Russian translation and publication of two important reference works in the field of law and religion: a religion and belief deskbook and a text by Gerhard Robbers. Both works will provide significant resources for comparative understanding of issues affecting religious believers and groups for the Russian-speaking world.
The Russian translation of “Facilitating Freedom of Religion or Belief: A Deskbook,” co-sponsored by the Oslo Coalition on Freedom of Religion and Belief will be published in May 2010 by the Russian Institute for Law and Religion. It was originally produced in English through the collaboration of the Center and the Oslo Coalition, with the editorship of Center Director Cole Durham and associate editorship of Center Associate Director Elizabeth Sewell, among others. The Russian translation of the Deskbook includes key chapters on international systems for protecting religious freedom, ones addressing issues that arise in national systems such as registration, and a new chapter on state and religion in Russia by noted Russian lawyer and scholar Anatoly Ptchelintsev. Launches of the Deskbook will be held in Moscow, Almaty, Yerevan, and Kyiv.
Robbers’ book, “State and Church in the European Union,” includes chapters on each of the church-state systems of the E.U. countries and is a tremendous resource for study of law and religion in Europe. The Russian translation of the text was published in December by the Institute of Europe under the editorship of Anatoly Krasikov. Launch events, which were attended by scholars, journalists, Orthodox and other religious leaders, and government officials, were held in Moscow and Kyiv.
August 2010 – Christianity Today
Comments of ICLRS Associate Director Brett G. Scharffs concerning the May 2010 Canadian court ruling in Heintz v. Christian Horizons have been quoted in the 20 August 2010 online edition of Christianity Today. The case, from the Ontario Divisional Court, involved an employee who alleged discrimination by a Christian organization because she is a lesbian. Observers have noted that the court’s ruling was “jarring” in its confusing explanation that religious organizations in Canada can claim exemption to Canadian law that bars discriminatory hiring, “if they are primarily engaged in serving the interests of their religious community, where the restriction is reasonable and bona fide because of the nature of the employment.”
What was most troubling about…
The Student Research Fellows Program of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies provides an opportunity for law students to combine an international externship with significant research and writing in the area of freedom of religion or belief. The Center congratulates the outstanding students who have been selected this year and wishes them well in their summer 2010 assignments. We look forward to the contributions of these fine scholars to our ongoing work, worldwide and here at the J. Reuben Clark Law School….
The Student Research Fellows Program of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies provides an opportunity for law students to combine an international externship with significant research and writing in the area of freedom of religion or belief. The Center very much appreciates the outstanding students who have been selected this year, and we look forward to the continuing contributions of these fine scholars to our ongoing work, worldwide and here at the J. Reuben Clark Law…
The Center is grateful for the excellent work of the 2010 Summer Research Externs, who came to Provo from nine U.S. law schools. These outstanding students provided invaluable assistance this summer with our many research and writing projects. We are especially grateful for their extensive help with the complex work of updating the 3500-page Treatise, “Religious Organizations and the Law.”
The International Center for Law and Religion Studies is pleased to welcome the assistance of Marshall Morrise, who has been engaged by the Center to advise the technology team. On board since January 2010, Marshall brings expertise, experience, and dedication that are proving invaluable assets to the Center’s work. Marshall entered Brigham Young University as a freshman in 1974, and after serving an LDS mission to Pusan, Korea, he graduated from BYU with a B.S. in computer science and a minor in Asian languages. He began working at the BYU Law School as a student in January 1979. Upon graduation in 1980, he began working at the law school full time as a research associate under Professors…
The International Center for Law and Religion Studies announces the publication of the volume Religion and the Secular State / La Religion et l’État laïque: Interim Reports, prepared for and issued upon the occasion of The XVIIIth International Congress of Comparative Law, held 25 July – 1 August 2010 in Washington, D.C. The 832-page volume represents the work of the General Reporters for the Congress topic Religion and the Secular State, Professor W. Cole Durham, Jr. Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at Brigham Young University and member of the ICLRS Academic Advisory Board Professor Javier Martinez-Torró of the Law Faculty of Complutense University in Madrid. Reports were received from 58 reporters, representing 47 countries. After review, revision, and some additional translations, the reports will be published in final form in 2012.