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Law and Religion: International Headline News
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The International Center for Law and Religion Studies maintains a Headlines News service covering news about freedom of religion or belief internationally, sent to subscribers daily (Monday - Saturday). All interested may subscribe to this service, free of charge, here.    

A searchable archive of Law and Religion Headlines, in three categories, may be found at the following links: [International News] [Europe News]  [U.S. News] 

Please note that the headlines posted do not necessarily reflect opinions or attitudes of members of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies. We strive for balance in presenting issues of potential interest to our readers. 

Image for G20 Interfaith Summit in Istanbul: Religion, Harmony, and Sustainable Development

A Message from the Conference Conveners 

Conference Program (English)  (Turkish)

Conference Participants / Presentations

Conference Summary (Turkish)

Religion plays a major role in global events, touching issues from medical ethics to cross-border conflicts to macroeconomic trends. However, religion can be misunderstood or even overlooked as a factor in world events and, thus, the contributions faith and religion make to social well-being and policies, which impact national and international communities, are often not recognized.

The 2015 G20 Interfaith Summit, held in Istanbul, Turkey, 16-18 November, brought together opinion leaders, including scholars, lawyers and political leaders, with faith and interfaith leaders from around the world for three days of discussion and dialogue as a substantial contribution to the G20 Economic Forum.

The gathering was designed to showcase the scholarly and societal contributions of various faith traditions and philosophies from around the world, and will create opportunities for communication and relationship building and raise the profile of participating communities, groups, and organizations.... more

Image for Rights Cherished or Freedoms Perished? Symposium in London, 9 November 2015

The International Center for Law and Religion Studies and the Brigham Young University London Centre were among sponsors of a breakfast symposium held Monday 9 November 2015 at the Inns of Court in London, entitled "Rights Cherished or Freedoms Perished? Perspectives on the future of freedom of conscience, religion and belief and freedom of expression."  

Mark Hill QC hosted the event at the Francis Taylor Building, Inner Temple. Speakers were Tim Wilson, Australian Human Rights Commissioner, and Brendan O’Neill, editor of Spiked Online, Britain’s first on-line only current affairs magazine, and a columnist for the Big Issue in London, the Australian in Sydney and a blogger for the Daily Telegraph. Wilson and O’Neill... more

Image for UN Side Event: Annual Report of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief

A series of events under the theme Comparative and International Perspectives against the Background of the Annual Report of the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief was held in New York City on October 22 and 23 in connection with the delivery the Annual Report at the United Nations by Special Rapporteur Heiner Bielefeldt.

Following the delivery on Thursday of the Report entitled "The Rights of the Child and His or Her Parents in the Area of Freedom of Religion or Belief", a reception was held honoring Heiner Bielefeldt and discussing the report.

The following day, a panel discussion convened in the morning to discuss Professor Bielefeldt's 2014 report to the UN: "Preventing Violence Committed in the Name of Religion", and another panel in the afternoon discussed the Rapporteur's 2015 report on the rights of the child... more

Image for ICLRS at the 2015 Parliament of the World's Religions

The International Center for Law and Religion Studies participated in three sessions of the 2015 Parliament of the World's Religions in Salt Lake City. W. Cole Durham, Jr., Center Director, and Brett Scharffs, Associate Director, organized these sessions to discuss religious freedom issues highlighted by Parliament organizers.

Durham moderated the panel Religion, Religious Freedom and Development, featuring

  • Rosalind I.J. Hackett, Professor and Head of Religious Studies and adjunct in Anthropology at the University of Tennessee, 
... more
Image for Archbishop William E. Lori Receives 2015 International Religious Liberty Award

The J. Reuben Clark Law Society and the International Center for Law and Religion Studies are honored to announce that the Most Reverend William Edward Lori, in presented with the International Religious Liberty Award for 2015. 

Archbishop Lori is Archbishop of the Baltimore Archdiocese and head of the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. He has played a leading role in gathering an interfaith coalition to promote the freedom to exercise one’s faith in both private and public life. 

Religious liberty "is not merely a privilege that the government grants us and so may take away at will, Archbishop Lori observed in an address before Congress in 2011. Religions liberty, rather, "is inherent in our very humanity, hard-wired into each and every one... more

Image for Elder Rasband speaks on 'religious freedom and fairness for all' in student body address

Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Presidency of the Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints called for “religious freedom and fairness for all” in an address to the student body at Brigham Young University on Tuesday, September 15, 2015. 

Elder Rasband acknowledged that many students may associate the term “religious freedom” with the term “freedom to discriminate”. However, Elder Rasband reminded the audience that the Church has consistently taken a stand for freedom of choice and conscience. He noted the historic compromise reached earlier this year in Utah, benefitting both the LGBT and the religious communities. He stated, “No doctrinal or religious principles were sacrificed.... more

Image for Advancing Freedom of Religion or Belief for All: Experts gather at Halki
From the website of the Conference of European Churches

Press Release No: 15/34 - September 2015 - Istanbul/Heybeliada

From September 7 to 9 more than 40 human rights experts from across Europe journeyed to the hilltop theological school of Halki on the Turkish island of Heybeliada. Once the heart of theological education for the Orthodox world, the school closed in 1971 as a result of a ban on private higher education in Turkey. Arriving by plane, train, and even by foot, participants discussed and debated approaches to advancing freedom of religion or belief.

Participants were drawn from CEC Member Churches, civil society, academia, and the European Institutions. Topics covered included the need for religious literacy, the role of religion in the public and political spheres, the need for greater internal and external coherence of... more

Image for Advancing Freedom of Religion or Belief for All: Cole Durham Joins Experts in Turkey
From the Facebook page of the Conference of European Churches

Professor Cole Durham, Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies (Brigham Young University, USA), and President of the International Consortium for Law and Religion Studies (Milan, Italy) was amoung the Experts gathered at the Theological School Halki in Istanbul/Heybeliada, Turkey, from 6-9 September to discuss "Advancing Freedom of Religion or Belief for All". The conference convened under the auspices of The Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Conference of European Churches (CEC), as Churches Together for Human Rights. For an account of the conference, see CEC Press Release No: 15/34... more

Image for Highlighting the Peace-Making Power of Religion, Despite its Mixed Track Record
Photo credit: Barry Bussey

The 17th annual "Meeting of Experts," organized by the International Religious Liberty Association (IRLA) met August 10-14, 2015, at Pepperdine University in Malibu, CA. A diverse panel of scholars, representing universities and organizations from seven countries, examined the role of religion in current global conflicts while also focusing on ways that faith can forge peace. Presenters included Robert A Seiple, current IRLA president, and Professor Cole Durham, acting in his role as President of the International Consortium for Law and Religion Studies. You may read more about the meeting at the link below. 

Image for Professor Scharffs Participates in Two Indonesian Programs on Sharia and Human Rights

In June 2015 Professor Brett Scharffs participated in two teaching programs designed to create bridges between Islamic Law and Human Rights. One program was held at a leading secular university in Yogyakarta, Gadja Mada University, and the other was at an Islamic University in Malang, Muhammadiyah University. The programs bring together experts on Human Rights and on Islamic Law with students of law, Islamic Law, sociology and history, as well as practitioners from a range of NGOs. Professor Scharffs made presentations on the history and drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and freedom of religion from a human rights perspective. The papers from the courses are being compiled into a textbook that will be published in both English and Bahasa in Indonesia next year. John Lowe, who just completed his first year at BYU Law School, also participated in the program, providing informal translation support and helping with logistics.

Image for Brett Scharffs at Symposium in Beijing on Marxist Theories of Religion

Dean Brett G. Scharffs, Associate Dean for Faculty and Curriculum, Francis R. Kirkham Professor of Law, and Associate Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, participated in a Symposium on Marxist Theories of Religion sponsored by the Institute of World Religions, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences on May 30-31, 2015, in Beijing. Professor Scharffs' presentation was titled, "The Relationship of Religion and the State: The Surprising Similarities and Important Differences in the Political Philosophy of Marx and Locke." The paper, which will be... more

Image for BYU conference explores what's next for religious freedom
Michael Purdy, Sen. Stuart Adams, Prof. Robin Fretwell Wilson. Photo by Tom Smart, Deseret News

From Deseret News, Monday July 6 2015 6:40 pm MDT, updated July 7 12:45 am

PROVO — Utah lawmakers struck a compromise between anti-discrimination and religious freedom earlier this year, but left the sticky matter of public accommodations for another day. 

It is one of many issues that could arise in the near future as the tension between often competing rights continues to mount in Utah and across the country.

Cole Durham, director of the BYU International Center for Law and Religious Studies, said he would be surprised if the state didn't address whether businesses can discriminate or refuse service based on sexual orientation, such as bakers, florists and photographers... more

Image for Elder Holland speaks on Faith, Family, and Religious Freedom at Chapman University


Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints discussed the issues of faith, family and religious freedom on the campus of Chapman University on Thursday, February 26, 2015. Elder Holland was on the southern California campus when the Fish Interfaith Center was launched a decade ago, and he returned this week to help the center celebrate its 10th anniversary.

 –  From Mormon Newsroom (see link below).


Image for <em>Religion and the Secular State: National Reports</em> now available in final form

Professor Javier Martínez-Torrón of the Law Faculty of Complutense University in Madrid, and Professor W. Cole Durham, Jr., Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at Brigham Young University, General Reporters for the topic "Religion and the Secular State" for The 18th Congress of the International Academy of Comparative Law, along with Donlu Thayer, project editor, are pleased to announce the publication in final form of the National Reports prepared on this topic.

The Congress is the once-every-four-years meeting of the experts of the International Academy of Comparative Law. The 18th Congress, held in Washington, DC, in July 2010, was the first Congress of this 90-year-old Academy to be held in the United States. The Reports prepared on the the topic... more

Image for Archbishop Charles J. Chaput Speaks at BYU, Visits the Center

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput visited Brigham Young University on January 23, 2015, where he spoke to students, faculty, and guests on the topic "The Great Charter at 800" as part of BYU's "Faith, Family and Society" lecture series. Afterwards he met with leaders of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at the BYU Law School.

Archbishop Chaput was born in 1944 in Concordia, Kansas.  He joined the Capuchin Franciscan order in 1965 and was ordained a priest in1970.  He holds master’s degrees in theology and religious education, and served... more

Image for Report: Launch Event for the ODIHR/Venice Commission Guidelines on the Legal Personality of Religious or Belief Communities - 2015

Report from Cole Durham at the European Parliament

On February 4, 2015, the European Parliamentary Intergroup on Freedom of Religion or Belief and Religious Tolerance hosted, at the European Parliament in Brussels, a launch event for the newly published ODIHR/Venice Commission Guidelines on the Legal Personality of Religious or Belief Communities.

The event was chaired by MEP Dennis de Jong, Co-President of the Intergroup on Freedom of Religion or Belief and Religious Tolerance of the EU Parliament, and featured introductory remarks by Snježana Bokulić, Head of the Human Rights Department, OSCE/ODIHR; a presentation of the Guidelines by Finola Flanagan, Former Member of the European Commission for Democracy Through Law (The Venice Commission) and Engy Abdelkader, Member of the OSCE/ODIHR Advisory Panel on Freedom of Religion or Belief; and comments by John Kinahan, of Forum 18.  After formal presentations... more

Image for The Year in Review 2014

Newsletter 24 December 2014 

Dear Friends,

As 2014 comes to a close, we at the International Center for Law and Religion Studies look back on a busy and productive year. We are constantly conscious of how much of our success depends on collaboration with others, particularly those receiving this newsletter, and for that collaboration we express our gratitude. We are working on an annual report for 2014, which will provide a more comprehensive review of activities, but we did not want to let the Christmas and New Year’s season pass without sharing greetings and appreciation.

Most notable as we look back is the impressive series of conferences in which the Center has participated, often as a co-sponsor. In addition to our annual International Law and Religion Symposium in Provo, we participated in or co-organized more than twenty-five other conferences this year. These included conferences held on every continent except Antarctica. Particularly significant... more

Image for Symposium 2014: Senator Hatch Receives Distinguished Service Award

The 21st Annual International Law and Religion Symposium opened on Sunday evening, October 5, 2014, in the Moot Court Room of the J. Reuben Clark Law School on the campus of Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. Those in attendance and listening in via live webinar were welcomed by Law School Dean James R. Rasband and Brigham Young University President Kevin J Worthen. Professor W. Cole Durham, Jr., Director of  the Symposium's sponsoring organization, the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, presented the Center's Distinguished Service Award to Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who... more

Image for The Center in Latin America 2014: Mark-up Session in the Dominican Republic

Professor Gary Doxey, Associate Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, along with the Center's long-time colleague and Academic Advisory Board Member from Argentina, Juan Navarro Floria, were invited as outside experts to attend a mark-up session of a comprehensive new bill regarding religious organizations that is before the National Congress of the Dominican Republic.

Also in 2014, the Center assisted with legislation in Costa Rica and Bolivia and provided research for a brief submitted to the Constitutional Court of Colombia.

Image for Freedom of Religion Is Topic of UN Side Event, October 2014
Heiner Beilefeldt in NYC, 2014
Photo by Laurie Williams Sowby

Report by Laurie Williams Sowby, Deseret News, October 31

It began with a Jewish piano teacher who was dismissed from her job at a European music conservatory because she refused to give exams on Saturdays, the day she honored as the Sabbath. When he heard of the case, Professor Heiner Bielefeldt knew religious freedom in the workplace was an issue he wanted to pursue. Dr. Bielefeldt, human rights professor at the University of Erlangen-Nürnburg in Germany, was appointed as U.N. Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief in 2010 with a three-year renewal of his appointment in 2013. He presented his report at the United Nations Oct. 23 and headed panels on the topic Oct. 23 and 24 in New York. 

The U.N. side event on Oct. 24, co-hosted by the United Kingdom and BYU’s International Center for Law and Religion Studies, featured several noted authorities in the field. The session was attended by 60 people, including diplomats from missions to the U.N. and representatives from... more

Image for Intensive Master Level Course in Yogyakarta : Sharia and Human Rights: Scholarly Background and Cases of Controversy in Contemporary Indonesia

Professor Brett G. Scharffs, Associate Dean for Faculty and Curriculum, Francis R. Kirkham Professor of Law, and Associate Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at BYU Law School, participated in an Intensive Master Level Course on Sharia and Human Rights: Scholarly Background and Cases of Controversy in Contemporary Indonesia, held in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, 2-6 June 2014. The event was co-sponsored by the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, the Oslo Coalition on Freedom of Religion or Belief, and the  Faculty of Law, Universitas Gadjah Mada... more