Senior Fellows

Orrin G. Hatch

The International Center for Law and Religion studies is honored to announce that Sentator Orrin Hatch has joined the Center as a Senior Fellow. Senator Hatch represented the State of Utah in the Senate for 42 years.  First elected in 1976, Senator Hatch was at the time of his retirement in 2019 the longest-serving Republican U.S. Senator in history. He served as either the Chair or ranking minority member of the Senate Judiciary Committee from 1993 to 2005. He chaired the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions from 1981 to 1987. Hatch also served as Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. On January 3, 2015, after the 114th United States Congress was sworn in, Hatch became President pro tempore of the Senate. On January 2, 2018, he announced that he would retire from the Senate. Notable among the achievements of his tenure was his commitment to religious freedom. He co-sponsored the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the most important religious freedom legislation in the history of the United States,  passed by a nearly unanimous Congress in 1993.  More …

Scott E. Isaacson

A shaping force behind the conception and formation of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, Scott E. Isaacson at present serves the Center as Regional Advisor for Latin America. He is a Member of the Latin American Consortium for Religious Liberty (Consorcio Latinoamericano de Libertad Religiosa) and a shareholder in the Law Firm of Kirton & McConkie, where he is a member of the International Law Section with a practice focusing on international commercial transactions and international law for not-for-profit organizations. From 1998 through 2004 he served as International Legal Counsel, Office of General Counsel, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, supervising all Church legal work in South America, managing international real estate acquisitions and construction, complex litigation and international arbitration, international tax compliance for not-for-profit organizations,  More …

Michael L. Jensen

Michael L. Jensen is Regional Legal Counsel, Office of General Counsel, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He previously served as Area Legal Counsel for the Europe Area, headquartered in Frankfurt Germany.  He served from 2007-2009 as Area Legal Counsel in Hong Kong, and from 2001-2005 in the same role in Moscow, in which capacities he supervised corporate, tax, employment, real estate and construction, litigation, government relations, religious liberty and related legal issues for the Church in 26 countries in Asia and in 16 countries in Eastern Europe, respectively. Intermittent with these assignments he has been a member Of Counsel of the International Law Section and Employment Law Section of the law firm Kirton & McConkie, with a practice … More …

David M. Kirkham

David Kirkham is Academic Director and professor at the Brigham Young University London Centre. He has served ICLRS as Senior Fellow for Comparative Law and International Policy and Advisor for Europe since July 2007 and continues in this role in an advisory and representational capacity now from London. David first came to the Law School from the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, where he served as Associate Dean and Professor of International Politics and Democratic Studies. He has also been an Associate Professor of History, Director of International History, and Director of International Plans and Programs at the United States Air Force Academy and currently holds an associate professorship in the BYU Department of Political Science. For several years he conducted international negotiations and diplomatic activities for the US …  More …

Denise Posse-Blanco Lindberg

Denise Lindberg, Senior District Judge (ret.), Third Judicial District Court, State of Utah, joined the Center  in 2017 as a Senior Fellow for Latin America. In 2018, she and her husband, attorney Neil Lindberg, accepted an assignment as Co-Directors of an ICLRS initiative to the Organization of American States in Washington, DC.  Lindberg was born in Cuba, and educated in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the United States. In 1963, her family came to the US, settling in New Rochelle, New York. Lindberg attended Brigham Young University, where she received a bachelor’s degree in Communications, and the University of Utah where she received a master’s degree in Educational Psychology in 1973, a master’s degree in Social Work in 1978, and a Ph.D in Health Sciences in 1980. During—and following—her graduate schooling at the University of Utah, she worked for various State of Utah agencies. As part of her work, … More …

Neil A. Lindberg

Neil Lindberg has joined the International Center for Law and Religion Studies (ICLRS) at Brigham Young University as Senior Fellow. He and his wife, Senior District Judge Denise Lindberg (ret.), have been named Co-Directors of an ICLRS initiative to the Organization of American States in Washington, DC. After receiving a Bachelors degree in Sociology from Brigham Young University, Mr. Lindberg, a Southern California native, joined the city planning staff of the City of Norwalk, California. He later joined the Community Development Department of Provo City, then the second largest city in Utah. During his 14-year tenure with Provo Mr. Lindberg rose from Senior Planner to Assistant Department Director and earned a Masters in Public Administration (MPA) degree. Looking to expand his horizons, Mr. Lindberg returned to law school, receiving his Juris Doctor degree from the J. Reuben Clark Law School in 1990. More …

Adesina J. Olukanni

Adesina J. Olukanni joined the Center as a Senior Fellow for Africa upon his retirement in late 2016 after nearly a decade of service in Public Affairs for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Africa. He has served in numerous Church positions, including high counsellor, branch president, district president’s counsellor, district president, mission president’s counsellor, stake president, Area Seventy, and counsellor in the Africa West Area Presidency. He was the Country Director in Nigeria for Church Education Systems of the Church between April 2004 and March 2007. He came into Public Affairs in April of 2007 as the Director of Public Affairs for the Church in the Africa West Area and the Africa South East Area. He served as Director in the Afrfica West Area … More …

Erlend “Pete” Peterson

Erlend “Pete” Peterson is currently serving as a Senior Fellow for the Middle East in the BYU International Center for Law and Religious Studies. Prior to accepting this invitation, Pete retired from Brigham Young University having completed fifty years of full-time employment. At the time of Pete’s retirement, he had served as BYU’s Associate International Vice President for fifteen years. Prior to that, he served in several professional positions in Admissions and Records—with twenty-seven years as Assistant Dean, Associate Dean and Dean.  Pete became involved in Brigham Young University’s international efforts in 1973 when he was named assistant dean of the Division of Admissions and Records and given responsibility for Brigham Young University’s special international… More …

Ruth Lybbert Renlund

Salt Lake City Attorney Ruth Lybbert Renlund is former president of the law firm Dewsnup, King & Olsen, a firm she helped form and where she practiced plaintiff civil litigation for 20 years. Before this, she was for three years assistant attorney general of the State of Utah and served on the board of directors for the Deseret News, Murdock Travel, and the Workers Compensation Fund of Utah. She was a member of the Utah Supreme Court’s Committee on Professionalism and chair of the Judicial Conduct Commission for the State of Utah. She was the first female president of the Utah Trial Lawyers Association.  After receiving a bachelor’s degree in history and a teaching certificate from the University of Utah, Ruth taught high school English and debate in Utah for a time, before earning a juris doctorate from the University of Maryland … More …

Neville Rochow

Neville Rochow SC is a distinguished Australian Barrister and legal educator. At present (2018) he works with Professor Paul Babie on the Law and Religion Project of the Research Unit for the Study of Society, Ethics and Law, The University of Adelaide. He holds adjunct professorships at the law schools of Notre Dame Australia and the University of Adelaide. His research interests include jurisprudence, human rights, and freedom of religion or belief. In his practice as a Silk from Howard Zelling Chambers, he had a national practice in corporate, commercial, competition, and constitutional law. He has appeared in the High Court of Australia, the Federal Court, the Supreme Court of various States and other federal, territorial, and state jurisdictions.  From 2015 to 2017, Neville and his wife, Penny, served as Government Relations Representatives at the European Union Office of … More …

Gene Schaerr

The International Center for Law and Religion Studies is honored to add Gene Schaerr to its distinguished group of Senior Fellows.  Mr. Schaerr specializes in handling—and usually winning—civil appeals, writ proceedings and similar matters, both in appellate courts and in the law-focused proceedings at the trial-court or agency level that often determine success or failure on appeal.  He has argued and won dozens of cases in a variety of forums—including the U.S. Supreme Court (where he has argued six cases), every federal circuit, and numerous federal district courts and state appellate courts.  His win rate in the dozens of federal appeals he has argued in the past six years is over 75 percent. He was a coordinator of Sidley Austin’s appellate practice from 1993 until 2005, and from 2005 until 2014 was the chair of the nationwide appellate practice at Winston & Strawn—a practice he led to numerous recognitions in such publications as the Appellate Hot List. His personal practice successes have won him repeated recognition … More …

Hannah Clayson Smith

J. Reuben Clark Law School alumna Hannah Clayson Smith has joined the International Center for Law and Religion Studies (ICLRS) as a Senior Fellow, following two clerkships at the US Supreme Court, for Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito, Jr., and a distinguished decade of service as Senior Counsel at Becket Law. Hannah brings to ICLRS an unparalleled interest in and record of service to religious liberty in the United States. She was a member of the legal teams that secured victories in key U.S. Supreme Court religious liberty cases, including Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC, Holt v. Hobbs, Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, and Zubik v. Burwell (the “Little Sisters of the Poor” case). During her time at Becket, she contributed to 25 Supreme Court briefs and represented more than 13 major faith groups including Anglicans, Assemblies of God, Baptists, Catholics… More …

Gordon H. Smith

The International Center for Law and Religion Studies is honored announce that former United States Senator Gordon H. Smith has agreed to join the work of the Center as a Senior Fellow.  Before his election to the U.S. Senate in 1996, Senator Smith was elected to the Oregon State Senate, rising to the position of president of that body after only three years. Senator Smith served the State of Oregon in the US Senate from January 3, 1997, to January 3, 2009.  He was the first individual to run for a state’s two United States Senate seats in one calendar year.  He served on the Special Committee on Aging  in the One Hundred Ninth Congress. During his Senate tenure Sentor Smith’s committee assignments included the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, the panel that oversees all broadcast-related legislation. He also served on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, the Senate Finance … More …

Patrick J. Thurston

A longtime associate and supporter of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, Patrick Thurston is an attorney with the law firm Kirton & McConkie, where his practice covers a broad range of international matters, including corporate legal structure issues, not-for-profit matters, real estate sales and acquisitions, and other international transactions. He also assists clients with a variety of domestic business and corporate matters. Since July 2008, Patrick has worked in the Dominican Republic, supervising a client’s legal matters in the Caribbean area, including corporate work, legal compliance, employment, immigration, real estate acquisition, construction, and legal compliance issues. Before joining Kirton & McConkie in 2006, Mr. Thurston practiced law in the… More …