The Center Thanks the 2013 Student Research Fellows

The International Center for Law and Religion Studies Student Research Fellows for 2013 have completed their summer’s work, traveling to and from assignments worldwide and working on research and writing projects both remotely and on campus in Provo. The Center expresses gratitude to these students and looks forward to their ongoing contributions to our work.

Each year the Center welcomes a group of outstanding scholars from the J. Reuben Clark Law School into the Research Fellows program, which involves a five-week summer visiting externship, this year in Salt Lake City and in eleven other locations worldwide,…

Visitors to the Center in 2013

The Center was pleased to welcome a number of distinguished visitors in 2013. 

  • Researchers from China: Jinsong Wu, Doctor of Judicial Science (Jan 2013–Jan 2014); Liang Liang, PhD Candidate (Jan–Apr 2013); Zhang Zheng, PhD Candidate (Jan–Apr 2013)
  • Delegation from Vietnam (Jun 2013): from the University of Social Sciences and Humanities at the Vietnam National University (USSH/VNA): Hung/Do Quang; Thanh/Pham Quoc; Nguyen Van Hieu; Lam Minh Chau; Nguyen Van Khanh; from the Ministry of Public Security: Nguyen Hung Manh; from Brigham Young University: Sandra Rogers, International Vice President; Erlend ‘Pete’ Peterson

2013 Retrospective

Newsletter 21 December 2013 

Dear Friends,

On behalf of all of us working at the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at BYU, I want to extend our warmest personal holiday greetings. We approach the conclusion of another year of endeavor with gratitude for new friendships made and longtime friendships strengthened and renewed.

Reviewing the events of the past year while preparing our 2013 Annual Report has reminded me of the remarkable opportunities we have had to collaborate with others. This year we held our 20th Annual International Law and Religion Symposium, devoted to discussions about “Religion and Human Rights.”…

Center Hosts Panel Discussion Following Special Rapporteur UN Report

Report by Lawrence Richard Peterson Jr.

Between October 28 and 30, 2013, Professor Cole Durham of the J. Reuben Clark Law School’s International Center for Law and Religion Studies was involved in events featuring Heiner Bielefeldt, the UN Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Religion or Belief.

On Monday, October 28th, the Canadian Mission to the United Nations hosted a side event on the UN campus moderated by Andrew Bennett, Canada’s Ambassador for Religious Freedom. On Tuesday, Professor Durham attended the UN Committee on Human Rights where Professor Bielefeldt presented his report.  

On Wednesday the International Center for Law and Religion Studies co-hosted with the NGO Committee on Freedom of Religion or Belief a luncheon and panel discussion featuring Professor Bielefeldt. Other panelists were Laksmi Puri, deputy executive director of UN Women, Gulalai Ismail, founder and chairperson of Aware Girls, Margareta Grape, representative to the UN of the World…

Dr. John Graz Receives Religious Liberty Award in Washington DC, 10 October 2013

The International Center for Law and Religion Studies and the J. Reuben Clark Law Society were honored to present to Dr. John Graz, Secretary-General of the International Religious Liberty Association (IRLA), the 2013 Religious Liberty Award. The award was presented at an Awards Dinner held October 10, 2013 in Washington, D.C.  Those in attendance were also privileged to hear remarks from former senator Gordon Smith, who spoke on the unique link between American history and religious freedom.

Also honored at the dinner were the winners of the 2013 Religious Liberty Essay Contest. Eric Baxter, Chair of the D.C. Mid-Atlantic Chapter for the J. Reuben Clark Law Society presented awards to James Cleith Phillips, Ethan Blevins, Landes Taylor, and Spencer R. Nelson for their essays treating aspects of religious freedom in law, jurisprudence, and legal scholarship….

Hannah Clayson Smith Gives 2013 Honored Alumni Lecture, 29 August 2013

BYU Law School alumnus Hannah Clayson Smith delivered the 2013 Honored Alumni Lecture – titled “Religious Freedom: Preserving the First Freedom”– on Thursday, August 29 at 1 p.m. at Brigham Young University’s J. Reuben Clark Law School.

Hannah graduated from the J. Reuben Clark Law School in 2001 with honors, having served as executive editor of the BYU Law Review. During law school, she also served as a research assistant for the BYU International Center for Law and Religion Studies and as president of the BYU Federalist Society.

Hannah filled two clerkships at the U.S. Supreme Court, for Justices…

ICLRS Thanks Website Development Manager Marshall Morrise

With deep gratitude for his dedication to furthering its mission and enhancing its work, the International Center for Law and Religion Studies bids farewell to Website Development Manager Marshall Morrise, who for three-and-a-half years has applied his invaluable expertise, experience, and creativity to many of the Center’s projects, but particularly to the functionality and capacity of its three websites.

Marshall and his wife, Susan Lorraine Hall Morrise, have now (June 2013) left for a three-year assignment in South Korea, where Marshall serves as President of the newly created Korea Seoul South Mission of The Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS).

Marshall entered Brigham Young University as a freshman in 1974, and after serving an LDS mission to Pusan, Korea, he graduated…

ICLRS Advisory Board Member Rik Torfs Elected Rector of Catholic University of Leuven

The International Center for Law and Religion Studies congratulates Professor Rik Torfs, a member of the Center’s Academic Advisory Board, on his election on 17 May 2013 as Rector of Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium). Professor Torfs’ four-year mandate will take effect on 1 August 2013.

Professor Torfs holds licentiate degrees from KU Leuven in law (1979), notary sciences (1980), and canon law (1981). In 1987, he successfully defended a doctorate in canon law. He was appointed lecturer of canon law at KU Leuven in 1988 and was promoted to full professor in 1996. He was Dean of the KU Leuven Faculty of Canon Law from 1994-2003. He has in addition been since 2000 visiting professor at both the University of Strasbourg (France) and the University of Stellenbosch (South Africa).

ICLRS Presents Awards to Outstanding Law Students

The J. Reuben Clark Law School held its annual Barrister’s Ball & Awards Banquet at the Provo City Library on 28 March 2013. Among the awards received by students were service awards presented by The International Center for Law and Religion Studies. M. Brandon Bastian and Cecily Elizabeth Couture each received the Center’s Meritorious Service Award, given to graduating law students who render extraordinary service to the Center during their three years of law school. 

The Center was also pleased to present Joshua Clark Bishop, Justin Caplin, and Rachel Snow with awards for…

Professor Brett Scharffs Appointed JRCLS Associate Dean of Academic Affairs

J. Reuben Clark Law School Dean James R. Rasband has announced the appointment of Brett G. Scharffs as Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, effective July 1, 2013. Professor Scharffs, Francis R. Kirkham Professor of Law, joined the BYU Law School in 1997. He has been the Associate Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies for the past four years. His scholarly interests include comparative law and religion, philosophy of law, and international business law.

Professor Scharffs is a graduate of Georgetown University, where he received a B.S.B.A in international business and an M.A. in philosophy. He was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, where he earned a B.Phil in philosophy. He received his J. D. from Yale Law School…

Cole Durham Receives Honorary Doctorate from Ovidius University, Romania

On June 14, 2013, W. Cole Durham, Jr., in recognition of his contributions as a renowned specialist in constitutional law and religious rights, was awarded its highest honor, Doctor Honoris Causa, from the Faculty of Theology of Ovidius University in Constanta, Romania. Professor Durham is Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies (ICLRS, Brigham Young University) as well as current President of the International Consortium for Law and Religion Studies (ICLARS, Milan). In making the award, the Faculty of Theology noted Professor Durham’s extensive contributions in recruiting teams for drafting texts of many constitutions in the post-Soviet-bloc world, and his influence in the United States, Europe, and in many other parts of the world to the protection of the legal rights to freedom of religion. Noted as well were his tireless advocacy as a member of the International Committee for the Defense of Religious Liberty and his contributions as a member of the Scientific Committee of Dionysian Review, published by the Faculty of Theology’s Center for Research and Juridical-Canonical Study and Research of the Three Monotheistic Religions.

Gerhard Robbers, 34th President of the Deutscher Evangelischer Kirchentag

As President of the Deutscher Evangelischer Kirchentag (German Protestant Church), Professor Gerhard Robbers presided over the 34th Annual Protestant Church Conference held May 1-5, 2013 in Hamburg, Germany.  Some 160,000 people — including a number of high-profile politicians — met to pray, celebrate, and discuss together in the event, whose theme was “Soviel du brauchst” (“As much as you need”).

The 650-page program of the Congress listed 2500 events, from the opening service on Wednesday afternoon to the “vast closing Eurcharist” on Wednesday evening. The text for the closing eucharist was from Micah: “They shall all sit under their own vines, and under their own fig trees, and no one shall make them afraid.” The Bishop of Bradford, the Rt Revd…

Center Signs MOU Concerning Religious Freedom with Vietnamese Delegation and IGE

Washington, D.C. – (June 27, 2013) For over 10 years, the Institute for Global Engagement (IGE), in partnership with its Vietnamese country partners have convened government and religious leaders to build consensus about how to best make religious freedom viable and sustainable in Vietnam. Through IGE’s work with government officials and religious organizations,  IGE has catalyzed and contributed to sustainable change in the country, developing trusted networks of partners with which to inculcate policies that ensure that people of all faiths and none have full freedom of…

Religious Liberty Leader Elder Dallin H. Oaks Awarded Becket Fund’s Highest Honor

From the Becket Fund website:

New York City, NY  (16 May 2013) –  Tonight Elder Dallin H. Oaks received the highest honor awarded by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the nation’s premier religious liberty law firm, at the 18th anniversary Canterbury Medal Dinner at the Pierre in New York City, NY.

The Canterbury Medal, the Becket Fund award, is given to a person who has “most resolutely refused to render to Caesar that which is God’s.” This year’s medalist, Elder Oaks, Apostle for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, received the award in recognition of his work defending religious liberty, as a Chicago Law professor, Utah Supreme Court Justice, and Church…

Tahir Mahmood – Commemorating the Author’s 50th Year of Academic Pursuits

On Friday, 12 April 2013 in New Dehli, the Vice-President of India, Janab M. Hamid Ansari, launched a new book by Professor Tahir Mahmood commemorating the author’s 50th year of academic pursuits: Religion, Law & Society across the Globe. Friends and colleagues worldwide were invited to attend the event, which was chaired by Dr. Ashok K. Chauhan, Founder-President of Amity chain of Universities.

Professor Mahmood is a renowned jurist, well-known in India and abroad for his expertise in religion and the law, human rights and civil liberties, especially the law relating…

The Oxford Journal of Law and Religion

The Oxford Journal of Law and Religion was introduced to the Oxford Journals collection in 2012. The first issue appeared in print on 1 April 2012, followed by the second issue on 1 October. These issues, along with advance access to the third issue, to appear in early 2013, are available free of charge on the Journal’s website

The new journal was developed “in response to the recent proliferation of research and writing on the interaction of law and religion cutting across many disciplines.” The launch of the Journal was marked by Oxford Journal of Law and Religion Colloquium, hosted by the Religion and International Relations Programme of the Centre for Christianity and Culture and held 19 April 2012 at Regent’s Park College, Oxford…

Linda Nearon Donates “Majesty of the Bridge” Painting to the Center

At a meeting of the International Advisory Council (IAC) of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies held in Salt Lake City in April 2013, artist Linda Nearon, a member of the IAC Executive Committee, presented her painting, “The Majesty of the Golden Gate Bridge” to Cole Durham, Center Director. Linda and her husband, David, are longtime friends and supporters of the Center, and we are most grateful for this gift, and for others of Linda’s beautiful paintings that are hung in the office in the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University. The inspiration for this most-recent of Linda’s paintings was a idea of Director Durham’s about the work of those who are devoted to the cause of religious freedom, who sometimes walk “out onto the bridge,” as if through mists…

Center Thanks and Honors Scott and Christine Cameron for Devoted Service

In an emotional tribute at a meeting held in conjunction with the 20th Annual International Law and Religion Symposium in Provo in October 2013, Director Cole Durham of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies expressed the Center’s heartfelt thanks to Dean Scott Cameron and his wife, Christine, for extraordinarily devoted service over many years, to the Center and to the cause of religious freedom. “I just have to say that Scott has been, in many ways, the heart of the Law school,” said Professor Durham. “I don’t think there’s anyone who has taken a more holistic view of law students and of the legal community.” 

Scott Cameron most recently served the Law School…

Brett Scharffs at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, 2-4 November 2013

ICLRS Associate Director Brett Scharffs participated in the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) Institute of World Religions China Social Sciences Forum – World Religions and the Dialogue of Civilizations – held in Beijing on November 2-4, 2013. Professor Scharffs addressed the question, “Can Public Reason Accommodate Conscience?” 

Scharffs noted that public reason as a framework for political dialogue has come to have a force in American and European political thought that might have come as a surprise even to its most articulate contemporary defender, John Rawls. But as religious and other minority or dissenting voices are increasingly pushed to the margins of public discourse a serious philosophical, political and practical question has arisen about the extent to which public reason can accommodate claims of conscience. The basic problem, Scharffs said, can be presented starkly: if public reason rules inadmissible reasons that are not publicly accessible, is there any reason to respect conscience at all, since by its very nature the claims of conscience may be private and only partially accessible or explicable. If public reason reigns supreme as a model of public discourse, Scharffs asks, are claims of conscience doomed?

An abstract of his article was published in the Conference Handbook, and the full paper will be published in a book of papers from the conference. To view the accompanying PowerPoint presentation in English and Chinese, click the links below.

Brett Scharffs Presents on Moving Beyond Balancing at International Symposium on Freedom and Security, Istanbul, 30-31 October 2013

J. Reuben Clark Law School Associate Dean Brett Scharffs presented a paper, Freedom and Security: Beyond the Balancing Metaphor at an International Symposium in Istanbul, Turkey on October 30-31, 2013. The symposium focused on the balance between freedom and security in fighting against terrorism and was sponsored by the Justice Academy of Turkey, and included scholars, journalists, judges, and government officials from around the world. In his paper, Dean Scharffs noted that when freedom and security come into conflict we instinctively turn to metaphors involving balancing to guide our discussions…