Regional Conferences in Oceania / Pacific

Scharffs and Rochow at FoRB Conference in Adelaide

From 14 to 16 February 2018, Professor Brett Scharffs, Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, and Center Senior Fellow, Neville Rochow SC, participated in a major conference in Sydney and Adelaide Australia. The conference featured leading academics and experts from Australia, the Pacific, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the European Union, addressing the conference theme: ‘Freedom of Religion or Belief: Creating the Constitutional Space for Other Fundamental Freedoms’.

The Center partnered in the conference with the University of Adelaide Law and Religion Project, Research Unit for the Study of Society, Ethics and Law and University of Notre Dame of Australia, Sydney School of Law. Its key organisers were Neville Rochow SC and Professor Paul Babie of the University of Adelaide. The first two days of the conference were held at the Sydney campus of the University of Notre Dame of Australia. The last day was held in the Moot Courtroom of the Adelaide Law School.

The timing of the conference came at a critical point in Australia’s constitutional history: the Australian Prime Minister has recently appointed an expert panel to report on whether and how Australia should change its laws to better allow for freedom of religion or belief. That Panel is due to report in early April 2018. The Panel approached the conference organisers to have a roundtable session on the subject with leading academics and other experts who were present at the conference. Both Professor Brett Scharffs; and Senior Fellow and Neville Rochow SC from the Center were among those specifically asked to make oral submissions to the Panel during the roundtable session. Neville Rochow was asked to make the first oral submissions at the roundtable session. Subsequently, one of the Panel members approached separately him to inquire about his experiences in the European Union with Article 17 of the Lisbon Treaty. The Panel was particularly interested in Professor Scharffs’ experience in the United States and asked him to expand upon the politicisation of freedom of religion that had occurred there.

Soon after the conference, the organisers received an invitation from the European Parliament to express interest in a research project with the European Parliament and to consider the possibility of participating with the Parliament in a conference in Brussels.

International Forum on Law and Religion, University of the Philippines – 3 August 2017

An International Forum on Law and Religion: The Secular State and Religious Freedoms was held at the University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City on August 3, 2017, sponsored by the International Center for Law and Religion Studies of Brigham Young University, the University of the Philippines College of Law, the J. Reuben Clark Law Society, and the Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy. The purpose of the event was to raise awareness of the international importance of protecting freedom of religion, form alliances and relationships among government leaders, judges, attorneys, scholars, prominent individuals, and leaders and members of faith-based groups in order to strengthen religious freedom in the Philippines, and encourage legal and scholarly efforts to defend and protect freedom of religion.

Among the approximately 200 people in attendance were prominent interfaith leaders; an ambassador and representatives from embassies of Argentina, US, Britain, Austria, Switzerland, and Netherlands; lawyers, justices, and judges, including former and current justices of the Philippine Supreme Court and a judge of the International Criminal Court; law students and faculty from several participating law schools; media personnel, and members and staff from the Philippine Senate and Congress.

G20 Interfaith Forum in Australia: Economic Development and Religious Freedom

G20 Interfaith Forum:  “Economic Development and Religious Freedom,” November 16-18, 2014, Gold Coast, Australia

The First G20 Interfaith Forum brought scholars, lawyers, political office holders, and other opinion leaders together with faith and interfaith leaders from around the world for three days of discussion and dialogue as a substantial contribution to the G20 Economic Summit. This was the first of a major series of annual conferences in which the Center is engaged with other major partners in G20 side events.  Given the number of attendees, this conference was almost double the size of the Center’s annual International Symposium in Provo. 

The conference showcased the scholarly and societal contributions of various faith traditions and philosophies from around the world. This conference also created opportunities for communication and relationship building…

Symposium 2014: Australia

Reported by Jordan Pendergrass

On Monday, 6 October 2014, an entire session of the International Law and Religion Symposium was dedicated to Australia.  Two points during the breakout session became very clear: change in Australia is happening and religious freedom is becoming an increasingly important right. In a session moderated by Arthur L. Edgson, the experts who delivered remarks during this session were Neil Foster, Professor, Newcastle Law School; Neville Rochow, Barrister/Board Member, University of Adelaide Research Unit for Society, Law, and Religion; and Nigel Zimmermann, Private Secretary to Most Reverend

Scharffs at Roundtable on Law and Religion in Australia, 21-22 June 2012

A Roundtable on Law and Religion in Australia was held at Australian National University College of Law, Sydney, with a Public Lecture by Professor Brett G. Scharffs, Accommodating Conscience: The Problems Arising from General and Neutral Laws, at ANU College of Law, 21 June 2012. [Event Flyer]

Managing Religious & Cultural Diversity in the Pacific – Conference in Samoa

30 April & 1 May 2012 – Law & Religion Conference: Apia, Samoa

Theme:  How best to manage religious diversity so as to create an environment that fosters harmonious relationships between different religious and cultural groups, lessens religious and cultural tensions, and recognizes the human right to religion, and religious freedom, within national, local and traditional contexts.

Held at the National University of Samoa. Sponsored by National University of Samoa, Victoria University (New Zealand), International Center for Law and Religion Studies (Utah, USA), UNESCO.&nbsp…

Center Co-sponsors “Cultural and Religious Freedom under a Bill of Rights,” Canberra, Australia, 13-15 August 2009

As the government of Australia ponders the introduction of an Australian charter or bill of rights, the Center, led by Associate Director Brett G. Scharffs, participated in a conference held 13-15 August 2009 at the Old Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, discussing “Cultural and Religious Freedom under a Bill of Rights.” The Center joined in sponsoring the conference with the University of Adelaide Research Unit for the Study of Society, Law and Religion (RUSSLR), Dr. Paul Babie, director.  “RUSSLR,” notes Professor Scharffs, “is the first center or institute in Australia to study the relationship between society, law and religion – putting it at the leading edge in Australia of what is already a major research area worldwide. RUSSLR’s primary objective is directed at understanding the place and role of religion and law in contemporary society.”  Other sponsors…

Australia Conference Papers Feature Kirkham and Scharffs

Papers by Dr. David M. Kirkham, Senior Fellow for Comparative Law and International Policy at the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, and Professor Brett G. Scharffs, Center Associate Director, appear as chapters in Freedom of Religion under Bills of Rights, published January 2012 by the University of Adelaide Press.

Dr. Kirkham’s chapter is titled “Political Culture and Freedom of Conscience: A Case Study of Austria.” Professor Scharffs contributed “Protecting Religious Freedom: Two Counterintuitive Dialectics in US Free Exercise Jurisprudence.” The papers were originally delivered as part of a Center co-sponsored conference “Cultural and Religious Freedom under a Bill of Rights,”