Please note that the opinions expressed in articles on this page, or biases reflected in the items on Headline News Page, do not necessarily reflect opinions or attitudes of members of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, who maintain this news summary. We strive for balance in presenting issues of potential interest to our readers.
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... more
A new Pew Research Center survey of Muslims in 39 countries around the globe finds that most adherents of the world’s second-largest religion are deeply committed to their faith and want its teachings to shape not only their personal lives but also their societies and politics. While many Muslims favor making sharia official law in their country, the report finds that there also is widespread support for democracy and religious freedom.... more
Pew Research Center Report, April 30, 2013. A new Pew Research Center survey of Muslims around the globe finds that most adherents of the world’s second-largest religion are deeply committed to their faith and want its teachings to shape not only their personal lives but also their societies and politics. In all but a handful of the 39 countries surveyed, a majority of Muslims say that Islam is the one true faith leading to eternal life in heaven and that belief in God is necessary to be a moral person. Many also think that their religious leaders should have... more
Pew Research Center Report, updated April 23, 2013. The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life has updated a report first issued on 8 February 2103 concerning gay marriage worldwide. A growing number of governments around the world are considering whether to grant legal recognition to same-sex marriages. About a dozen countries currently have national laws allowing gays and lesbians to marry, mostly in Europe and the Americas. In three other countries, including the United States, some jurisdictions allow same-sex couples to wed, while others... more
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... more
Reported by Don and Ellen Holsinger in Geneva
GENEVA (22 March 2013) – In its concluding day, the 22nd Session of the Human Rights Council passed resolution A/HRC/22/L.9 on Freedom of Religion or Belief. The resolution was adopted by consensus, meaning without vote, even though one Ambassador spoke against it. Following the intervention of the US ambassador, who made repeated and accusatory remarks about Iran’s failure to respect freedom of religion and to protect religious minorities... more
OIC Coat of Arms
Reported by Don and Ellen Holsinger in Geneva
GENEVA (22 March 2013) - ARTICLE 19 and Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) welcome the new resolution on combating religious intolerance, which was adopted by consensus on 22 March 2013 at the 22nd Session of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC). We call on all States to continue to engage in dialogue in good faith to protect the mutually reinforcing rights to freedom of expression, freedom of religion and belief and non-discrimination, including... more
High Commissioner for Human Rights Navy Pillay addresses the 22nd session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.
UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré
25 February 2013 – As the main United Nations human rights body began its work today, senior UN officials stressed the importance of strengthening international processes that will monitor and prevent rights violations around the world as well as hold perpetrators accountable for their crimes.
Addressing the opening of the 22nd session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said that despite significant progress over the past two decades on issues such as the elimination of violence against women and tackling impunity for international crimes, there continue to be systematic human rights violations around the world.
“The promise of respecting all human rights for all people is still a dream for too many,” Ms. Pillay said. “Hundreds of thousands of people have died in genocides in Rwanda and Bosnia and Herzegovina... more
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... more
Worldwide, more than eight-in-ten people identify with a religious group. A comprehensive demographic study of more than 230 countries and territories conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life estimates that there are 5.8 billion religiously affiliated adults and children around the globe, representing 84% of the 2010 world population of 6.9 billion.... more
Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief Heiner Bielefeldt. UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras
25 October 2012 – A United Nations independent expert today urged the international community to consistently respect, protect and promote the human right to freedom of religion or belief in the area of conversion.
“The right of conversion and the right not to be forced to convert or reconvert belong to the internal dimension of a person’s religious or belief-related conviction, which is unconditionally protected under international human rights law,” the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Heiner Bielefeldt, said in a news release, issued as he presented a report on his work to the UN General Assembly.
In his report, Mr. Bielefeldt analyses the patterns of abuses that are perpetrated in the name of religious or ideological truth claims in the interest of promoting national identity or protecting... more
(L-r) Professor W. Cole Durham, a member of ODIHR’s Advisory Panel of Experts on Freedom of Religion or Belief; Robert-Jan Uhl, ODIHR’s Adviser on Freedom of Religion or Belief, and Floriane Hohenberg, the Head of ODIHR’s Tolerance and Non-Discrimination
Religious and belief communities should be granted quick, simple and non-discriminatory access to legal personality, said participants at a meeting on the margins of the OSCE's annual human rights conference in Warsaw on 2 October 2012.
Representatives of civil society and religious communities at the meeting noted that in the 1975 Helsinki Document, all participating States committed themselves to "recognize and respect the freedom of the individual to profess and practice, alone or in community with others, religion or belief".
"Although this means that religious or belief communities are not obliged to seek official recognition for their activities, they do often need recognition of their legal personality as a practical matter: to be able to open bank accounts, enter into contractual obligations and purchase real estate, for example," said Robert-Jan Uhl, ODIHR's Adviser on Freedom... more
The First Freedom Center has published a "major report monitoring freedom of religion and conscience," its second Minority Religious Communities at Risk. Authors of the report were experts / practitioners who were asked to give their views on "factors which most affected the lives and fortunes of members of minority religious communities during 2011." The authors are Ambassador Akbar Ahmed (Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University), Ambassador Randolph Bell (President of the First Freedom Center), Commissioner Felice Gaer (U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom), Daniel S. Mariaschin (Executive Vice President of B'nai B'rith International), Tad Stahnke (Director of Policies and Programs at Human Rights First), and the Rev. Canon Dr. Andrew White (vicar of St. George's Anglican Church in Baghdad).... more
(ENInews)—President Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan on 11 August set up a three-member Senate committee to look into reports that nearly 250 Hindus have migrated to India in two days. The panel is meant "to instill a sense of security" in the Muslim-majority country's Hindu minority. According to reports, Hindus from troubled Balochistan and Sindh provinces traveled to India on 30-day pilgrim visas granted by the Indian government. But even before entire Hindu families reached the Indian border by train, Pakistani media were reporting that Hindus were leaving to escape... more
(ENInews)—About 40 representatives of educators and Lutheran churches in Latin America and the Caribbean gathered in Bogota, Colombia, to discuss current efforts, needs, and challenges in the formation of leaders for mission and ministry. The "New Wine-New Wineskins" Consultation, which took place 7-10 August, was sponsored by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). It grew out of the need that ELCA companion churches in Latin America and the Caribbean have been expressing for new models of leadership development to shape the kinds of lay and ordained... more
Pew Research Center Report, August 9, 2012. The world’s 1.6 billion Muslims are united in their belief in God and the Prophet Muhammad and are bound together by such religious practices as fasting during the holy month of Ramadan and almsgiving to assist people in need. But they have widely differing views about many other aspects of their faith, including how important religion is to their lives, who counts as a Muslim and what practices are acceptable in Islam, according to a worldwide survey by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public... more
Nairobi, Kenya (ENInews)—Roman Catholic nuns in Kenya and elsewhere in Africa are receiving support from an American philanthropic trust because of their "special projects that improve the lives of the poor." Through a program named Sisters Leadership Development Initiative, the Hilton Foundation, a nonprofit organization based in Los Angeles and Reno, Nevada, is funding training for the women to improve their management and leadership skills. [438 words, ENI-12-0454]
Jerusalem (ENInews)--The small Christian community of Gaza is in a state of uproar and has held an uncommon public protest against the Islamic Hamas government over what they say are forced conversions of two Christians in recent weeks. Led by Gaza's Greek Orthodox Archbishop Alexious, the protesters gathered on 21 July in front of the Greek Orthodox Church of St. Perfidious in Gaza City. They said they felt growing pressure from Gaza Muslims to convert, although there is no official Hamas policy for the conversion of Christians. "We are afraid more young people will be... more
(ENInews)—Looking toward local elections in early 2013, the Baptist church in the Indian state of Nagaland has launched a "clean election" campaign, circulating a booklet and pledge card and urging voters not to undertake any unethical practices during the elections. "Our goal is to help the people make a good personal choice in the elections and desist from any unethical practices," the Rev L. Anjo Keikung, general secretary of the Nagaland Baptist Church Council (NBCC) told ENInews. Keikung, who is based in Nagaland's capital of Kohima, was commenting on the church... more
East Rutherford, New Jersey (ENInews)—It has been described as a spiritual calling, a labor of love, a rich opportunity to connect with thousands of years of Jewish history and religion. It has also been called a relentless endeavor and a marathon of study. There are no vacations, no shortcuts, Religion News Service reports. For 7 1/2 years, day in and day out, Jews around the world have studied a new double-sided page of the Talmud, the biblical commentary that, written over centuries, serves as a guide to spirituality and practical life. On the evening of 1 August... more
New Delhi (ENInews)—Amid heavy rain, more than 5,000 Christians and church leaders marched in New Delhi on 1 August and staged a five-hour sit-in near the Parliament building, demanding an end to the decades-old discrimination against Christian dalits. The protest was organized by the National Council of Dalit Christians, supported by the Catholic church and the National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) that groups 30 Orthodox and Protestant churches. "The government is crucifying us," said dalit Roman Catholic archbishop Malayappan Chinnappa, who flew in from... more
(ENInews)—An alliance of youth from varied faith groups in Brazil has formed with the goals of ending racial and religious intolerance, promoting social and environmental justice using art and theater, while increasing their political clout. The group, the Ecumenical Youth Network (REJU) began in 2007, according to Brazilian national youth facilitator Daniel Souza. "REJU is made up of people that embrace the youth cause, not by churches or organizations. It is an eclectic group, with persons of different ages, places and formations," Souza told the Latin America... more
"Religious freedom provides a cornerstone for every healthy society. It empowers faith-based service. It fosters tolerance and respect among different communities. And it allows nations that uphold it to become more stable, secure and prosperous.” – Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton
The annual Report to Congress on International Religious Freedom – the International Religious Freedom Report – describes the status of religious freedom in every country. The report... more
"Religious freedom is a fundamental human right, and is essential for a stable, peaceful, and thriving society. ... Freedom of religion is not just an American right, but the right of all people. It goes hand-in-hand with freedom of expression, freedom of speech and assembly. And when religious freedom is restricted, all these rights are at risk. And for this reason, religious freedom is often the bellweather for other human rights; it's the canary in the coal mine.... more
"Where religious freedom exists, so do the others." – Secretary Hillary Clinton
Religious freedom is under attack around the world, from religious extremists who consider any deviation from their own beliefs as sufficient justification for violence to governments who fall short of their obligations to protect the rights of all their citizens. In the face of these threats, the United States and others face the challenge of how best to protect and promote religious liberty around the world. This task is particularly important at a time when many countries in... more
State Department unveils upgrades for 2011 International Religious Freedom Reports
Media Note, Office of the Spokesperson, Washington, DC, 30 July 30, 2012
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has transmitted the 2011 International Religious Freedom Report to Congress and released it to the public. This report is a valuable tool for interested citizens, students, researchers, nongovernmental organizations, and governments. The report focuses special attention on key trends such as the impact of political and demographic transitions on religious minorities; the effects... more
Hong Kong (ENInews) — Some 90,000 Hong Kong people took to the streets on 29 July to urge the government to withdraw a new education curriculum said to be biased in favor of China's Communist party. About 150 Christian schools said they would refuse to use the course in the new school year. Many demonstrators marched with their children for three to four hours in very hot weather carrying banners and wearing badges that read "no brainwashing." An adjunct professor of history at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Willy Wo-Lap Lam, said the textbooks to be used in... more
Nairobi, Kenya (ENInews)--Roman Catholic bishops in Kenya have cautioned the government against joining a global push for birth control, citing concerns about its effect on society and family values. The bishops spoke following reports the country had agreed to a new global campaign on family planning that was announced at a population summit in London in mid-July. Attendees, which included nearly 150 leaders from both government and private sector organizations, agreed to an effort to provide contraceptives for at least 120 million women and girls in developing countries... more
(ENInews)--Lutheran World Federation (LWF) General Secretary Rev. Martin Junge called the installation of Bishop Agnes M. Siguroardottir, Iceland's first female bishop, an affirmation of the leadership role women play in the church, according to an LWF news release. "We celebrate your ordination as a bishop in the memory of Jesus' commissioning women disciples to become his followers and partaking in God's mission to the world," said Junge in a congratulatory greeting conveyed on behalf of the LWF by Bishop Jana Jeruma-Grinberga, Lutheran Church in Great Britain, on 24... more
Seoul, South Korea (ENInews)--Christians should embrace and embody God's hospitality, the seventh Congress of Asian Theologians declared following a meeting in Seoul, South Korea, from 1-6 July. "We affirm our belief that God is the ultimate host of the whole creation, and we are the recipients and agents of God's hospitality through Jesus Christ, churches, religions and creation," said the participants, including 26 women and 46 men. Their message, they said, related particularly to Asia but also beyond, especially in view of the tenth Assembly of the World Council of... more
COMECE Press Release, July 2012: The future of the European cohesion policy is presently under discussion in the European Council and the European Parliament. Regional policy is an expression of solidarity within the European Union. For Christians, solidarity is a natural expression of their faith. The Churches are convinced that, particularly at a time when the European unification process is facing a severe test, the European regional policy is of great importance for the cohesion envisaged in the EU Treaty. Therefore, the COMECE Secretariat... more
(ENInews)-- After a 19-year court battle over charges of mismanagement that had divided a Philippine Protestant church, opposing parties are now hopeful of seeing an end to the conflict, a development which is welcome in ecumenical circles here and overseas.
The Algemeiner as well as the Jewish Press report that a district court in Cologne, Germany ruled this week in an appeal from a trial court's decision that parents do not have the right to decide on religious circumcision for their sons. The court said that non-medically necessary circumcision causes "serious and irreversible interference in the integrity of the human body." The court went on to hold that circumcision "contravenes the interests of the child to decide later on his religious beliefs." It held that the parents' rights to provide for their children and their... more
After a decision of the members of the Spiritualist Council of Rio de Janeiro, schools will no longer teach students about Spiritualism. The council based its decision on the fact that teachers are paid to teach religion classes in schools which violates the spiritualist principle that the learning of the religion should be free and open to everybody. The city of Rio de Janeiro has already laid off 10 teachers initially hired to teach Spiritualism to fourth grade students (ages 9-10).
by Randa Vieira
Howard Friedman, Religion Clause
Yesterday [20 June 2012], the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security, chaired by Rep. Peter King, held hearings on The American Muslim Response to Hearings on Radicalization within their Community. The committee's website makes available a video of the hearing plus transcripts of all the witnesses' statements. This was the fifth in a series of controversial hearing chaired by Rep. King, and the committee yesterday also released a report (full text) on its findings from the first four hearings. Here is an excerpt... more
Howard Friedman, Religion Clause
Radio Netherlands Worldwide and JTA, the Dutch Senate on Tuesday voted not to ratify a law that would have banned Jewish and Muslim ritual slaughter. While the bill passed the House of Representatives in Parliament last year by a large majority (see prior posting), 51 out of 75 Senators voted against it after a compromise agreement was reached between the Deputy Minister of Agriculture on the one hand, and Jewish and Muslim groups on the other. The agreement (Radio Netherlands Worldwide and Chabad.org ... more
(ENInews) A Jerusalem city councilwoman said she will work towards creating a forum of women under the city's auspices that would cut across religious lines in order to fight growing religious extremism.
Howard Friedman, Religion Clause
In Williams v. Commonwealth of Australia, (Australia High Ct., June 20, 2912), Australia's highest appeals court held that the country's National School Chaplaincy Program which provides grants for chaplaincy services in public and private schools (see prior posting) does not violate Section 116 of Australia's Constitution. Section 116 prohibits any religious test as a qualification for office. However the Court invalidated the program on the ground that it exceeds the government's executive powers. Here is the Sydney Morning Herald's summary... more
Howard Friedman, Religion Clause
Last Friday, the Catholic Health Association (CHA), which represents more than 2000 Catholic health care organizations and facilities, submitted a comment letter (full text) to the Department of Health and Human Services taking issue with the Obama administration's proposed compromise to deal with objections of religious organizations to the mandate that health insurance policies cover contraceptive services. CHA's letter has attracted a good deal of press attention (Washington Post; National Catholic Register) because CHA's support was... more
Howard Friedman, Religion Clause
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops announced last week that at its Spring meeting which ended Friday, the National Review Board (NRB), a lay group advising it on handling of the sexual abuse of minors by clergy, issued "A Ten Year Progress Report" (full text of June 1, 2012 report). Here are excerpts from the Report:
In 2002, the bishops of the United States approved the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. Ten years later, there has been striking improvement in the Church’s response to and treatment of... more
Howard Friedman, Religlion Clause
A study published in the June/July issue of Free Inquiry magazine titled How Secular Humanists (and Everyone Else) Subsidize Religion in the United States estimates that federal, state and local governments, through tax deductions, exemptions and direct expenditures, subsidize religion in the United States in an amount equal to at least $71 billion per year. Yesterday's Washington Post reports on the study.
Howard Friedman, Religion Clause
Baptist Press reports on a June 11 letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius from over 140 leaders of Christian churches, educational institutions and other Christian organizations protesting the "two-class concept of religious organizations" that has been created by attempts to accommodate faith-based objections to the Obama administration's mandate on contraceptive coverage in health insurance policies. (Full text of letter.) The letter says in part:
[W]e are united in opposition to the creation in federal... more
Howard Friedman, Religion Clause
Xinhua reports today [12 June 2012] that China's State Council Information Office has published the National Human Rights Action Plan of China (2012-2015). The Plan, which deals with a broad range of human rights, proclaims as to freedom of religious belief:
China upholds the principle of freedom of religious belief stipulated in the Constitution and strictly implements the Regulations on Religious Affairs to guarantee citizens' freedom of religious belief.
- Protecting citizens from being
(ENInews)--The British government's 12-week consultation on gay marriage, which concluded on 14 June, aroused strong opinions, with faith groups expressing views both "for" and "against." Opposition came from the (Anglican) Church in Wales and the established Church of England, which foresaw a conflict between the church's and the state's definition of marriage. However, during the consultation, a YouGov poll of more than 2,000 people found that 58 percent of people with a religious faith back same-sex marriage. The poll also showed that 70 percent of the public support... more
Howard Friedman, Religion Clause
On Tuesday [14 June 2012], the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions held a hearing on "Equality At Work: The Employment Non-Discrimination Act" (full text of witness statements and video of full hearing). The bill, S. 811, would bar employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. In connection with the hearing, 37 faith groups released a letter they had sent to each member of the Committee urging passage of the bill, saying "we cannot tolerate arbitrary discrimination against... more
Howard Friedman, Religion Clause
Voters in North Dakota yesterday soundly defeated Initiated Constitutional Measure No. 3 that would have placed a broad version of state religious freedom restoration laws in the state's constitution. With all votes counted, the results were 107,680 (64.04%) No; and 60,465 (35.96%) Yes. (Official results).
The proposed constitutional amendment... more
BELGA (07.06.2012) - Jurors in the court of assizes of Belgium found four of the defendants, Xavier Meert, Mourad Mazouj the husband of the victim, Jamila Zian, and Fatima Zekhnini, guilty of aggravating circumstances for having caused the death of the victim.
Latifa Hachmi submitted to sessions of Roquia, a Muslim rite of "unbewitching," mainly in her home, Waelhem Street, in Schaerbeek, between the end of June and the beginning of August in 2004. Two exorcists, Abdelkrim Aznagui (60) and Xavier Meert (34) conducted the ritual. The victim's husband, Mourad Mazouj (34)... more
Howard Friedman, Religion Clause
On June 6, a subcommittee of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs held hearings on a series of bills, one of which was HR 2720 (full text) which is designed to clarify the VA's role in military funerals. Witnesses on Panel 3 and the submission of Rep. Poe at the focus on this bill, which was prompted by a dispute last year over rules at the National Cemetery in Houston, including allegations that the Department of Veterans Affairs restricted religious content at ceremonies. (See prior posting.) The government claimed... more
Howard Friedman, Religion Clause
On May 24, the State Department released the 2011 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices in a new streamlined format that includes a country-specific executive summary and examples of the significant human rights problems reported in each country. The report can be accessed for each country, or a customized report across any number of countries by human rights topic can be created online. A report by CNS News this week illustrates, however, that the new format has become part of the partisan... more
Photo by Vefader Melikov
Makhachkala, May 28, 2012
by Vefader Melikov
On May 26 in Moscow, the hotel "Ritz-Carlton" hosted the first in the Russian history International Theological Conference "Islamic doctrine against radicalism". Following the two-day work the Conference participant - the leading Muslim scholars of the Islamic world and the spiritual leaders of Russian Muslims adopted Moscow Theological Declaration of Muslim scholars on jihad, the application of Sharia and the caliphate.
This theological document combines the contents of several fatwas - the theological conclusions that condemn radicalism... more
WASHINGTON, DC – Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on May 23, 2012 announced his appointment of Mary Ann Glendon to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).
"USCIRF welcomes Mary Ann Glendon," said Ambassador Jackie Wolcott, Executive Director of USCIRF. "Given her remarkable depth of knowledge, experience, and commitment, I am confident that she will be a great asset to our Commission and its mandate, helping us advance the cherished right of freedom of religion or belief around the world and support its integration into our country’s foreign policy... more
Government officials, religious leaders and public policy experts from across the nation met to discuss a host of topics including the new Health and Human Services mandate requiring religious organizations to provide health care coverage for contraceptives. The day-long event featured discussions on issues ranging from contraceptive coverage under the Affordable Care Act to state laws requiring health care providers to perform procedures or provide services that are... more
New York City, NY – The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty is proud to announce its highest honor, the Canterbury Medal, was awarded to their founder and President Emeritus, Kevin J. "Seamus" Hasson, last night in Manhattan, for his pioneering leadership and tireless sacrifices in the cause of religious freedom.
Thanks to the visionary work of Mr. Hasson, this one-room organization grew into a “powerhouse law firm” (Associated Press) achieving “the greatest religious liberty case in half a century” (WSJ) and winning praise from a diverse group of thinkers including Pope John Paul II... more
Photo by Gage Skidmore
On May 15, 2012, Speaker of the House John Boehner announced his appointment of Elliott Abrams to USCIRF. Mr. Abrams was a Commission member for three years beginning in 1999, serving as chair from 2000 to 2001. Elliott Abrams is a lawyer and foreign policy expert who served in the administrations of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. From 2005 to 2009 Mr. Abrams served President Bush as Deputy National Security Advisor for Global Democracy Strategy. Mr. Abrams has held many senior positions in the White House and at the Department of State.... more
On May 11, 2012, President Obama announced his appointment of the Reverend William J. Shaw to his second term on USCIRF. President Obama appointed Reverend Shaw on June 2010 to serve his first term. Reverend Shaw has served as Pastor of the White Rock Baptist Church in Philadelphia since 1956. Reverend Shaw served as President of the National Baptist Convention, USA Inc. from 1999 to 2009. He currently sits on the Board of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and has served as President of The Baptist Ministers’ Conference of Philadelphia and Vicinity... more
Fernández-Martínez v. Spain (no. 56030/07) - Chamber Judgment 15 May 2012. [Excerpts from the Court's press release:] The case concerned the decision not to renew of the contract of a priest, who was married with five children, to teach Catholic religion and morals, following the publication of an article disclosing his membership of the "Movement for Optional Celibacy".
The applicant, Mr José Antonio Fernández Martínez, is a Spanish national who was ordained as a priest in 1961. In 1984 he applied to the Vatican for... more
En su Asamblea Ordinaria celebrada el pasado 18 de abril, el Consejo Argentino para la Libertad Religiosa (CALIR) eligió a las nuevas autoridades de la institución para el período 2012-2014, de acuerdo al detalle que abajo se consigna. El CALIR tiene su origen en el Consejo Asesor de la Secretaría de Culto, convocado por Norberto Padilla durante su gestión al frente de dicha cartera (1999/2001). Ya desde el ámbito privado, la asociación viene trabajando desde el año 2002 en la promoción de la libertad religiosa en todas sus dimensiones, procurando mejorar la legislación, educar para la convivencia y la paz, y contribuir desde la valoración positiva del hecho religioso al ejercicio de las responsabilidades sociales y al aprecio de la cultura nacional en su pluralidad, sin discriminaciones. La Comisión Directiva para el período 2012-2014 quedó conformada del modo que sigue: Presidente: Octavio Lo Prete; Vicepresidente 1º: Waldo L.Villalpando; Vicepresidente 2º: Mario Burman; Secretario: Ricardo Docampo; Tesorero: David A. Frol; Vocales: Susana E. El Kadri de Hallar; Darío M. Bruno; Luis D. Mendiola; Juan G. Navarro Floria; Norberto Padilla; Horacio R. Bermúdez y Raúl J. Scialabba; Revisores de Cuentas: Gustavo A. Grancharoff e Hilario H. Wynarczyk. Más información: http://www.calir.org.ar/. Twitter: @InfoCalir. Buenos aires, abril de 2012.
Organised by the United Kingdom in the context of its Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, the Brighton Conference on the future of the European Court of Human Rights took place in Brighton, UK, on 19-20 April 2012. The Conference aimed to achieve agreement on a political declaration on a package of reforms of the Court, between Ministers of the 47 member States of the Council of Europe.
At previous High-Level conferences held in Interlaken (2010) and Izmir (2011), the member States of the Council of Europe, while recognising the extraordinary contribution of the Court to the protection of human rights in Europe, agreed unanimously that reform of the Court is needed in order to... more
L-R: Julian Rivers, Malcolm Evans, Cole Durham, Silvio Ferrari, Gerhard Robbers, Peter Petkoff
The Oxford Journal of Law and Religion Colloquium, held on the occasion of the publication of the first issue of the Journal, convened on Thursday, 19 April 2012, at Regent's Park College, Oxford, UK, hosted by the Religion Law and International Relations Programme of the Centre for Christianity and Culture.
Session I of the Colloquium featured a Welcome and Introduction, "Harmony in Dissonance — Directions of the Law and Religion Studies," by Peter Petkoff, Director of Religion, Law and International Relations Programme, Regent's Park College, and Managing Editor of the Oxford Journal of Law and Religion.... more
The first of the Oxford Journal of Law and Religion Seminars was held 20 April 2012 in the Old Common Room of Balliol College, Oxford, UK. The event was co-sponsored by the Oxford Society for Law and Religion; FORBFocus; the International Consortium for Law and Religion Studies (ICLARS, Milan); Brunel Law and Religion Research Group; Centre for the Study of Religion in Public Life, Kellogg College, Oxford; Religion, Law and International Relations Program, Regents Park College, Oxford; the International Center for Law and Religion Studies (ICLRS), Brigham Young University, United States; and the Strasbourg Consortium. ... more
Islam, Europe and Emerging Legal Issues
Edited by W. Cole Durham Jr., Rik Torfs, David M. Kirkham, and Christine Scott
Ashgate Publishers 2012
Islam, Europe and Emerging Legal Issues brings together vital analysis of the challenges that Europe poses for an expanding Islam and that Islam poses for Europe, within their ever-evolving religious, legal, and social environments. This book gathers some of the best thinking on Islam and the law affecting current and contested issues that can no longer be... more
The 34th book by renowned Muslim scholar Dr. Tahir Mahmood has just been published by the Universal Law Publishing Co. The work, Muslim Law in India and Abroad, is co-authored by Dr. Mahmood's son, Dr. Saif Mahmood, Advocate, Supreme Court of India. Earlier versions of this book have been extensively cited in many Supreme Court and High Court judgments, and the work is considered as the most reliable contemporary authority on the Muslim Law of India.
The book was launched on Tuesday, 27 March 2012, at the Indian Law Institute, New Delhi by Hon'ble Mr. Justice Altamas Kabir, Chief Justice of India-designate, at a function jointly organized by the the Association of Scholars of Religion and Law and the publishers. Hon'ble Mr. Justice Badar Durrez Ahmad, Judge, High Court of Delhi spoke on the book... more
Two articles on escalating threats to religious freedom and U.S. efforts to control those threats appeared in the Deseret News on 24 and 25 March 2012. Part 1, "Religious freedom as a core human right: A three-sided, global debate," discusses the current problems and competing values at home and abroad that make effective action in area difficult. Part 2, "International religious-freedom efforts split on policies and structures," explores U.S. policy responses since 1998, which include a contentious governmental structure and strategic divisions among religious religious liberty... more
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has on 20 March released it 2012 Annual Report. The 2012 report documents religious freedom abuses and violations in 25 countries around the world. As reported by USCIRF Chair Leonard Leo, the Annual Report:
- Recommends that the Secretary of State designate the following eight additional "countries of particular concern," or CPCs, under IRFA for egregious violations of religious freedom: Egypt, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and Vietnam.
The U.S. Congress has appointed the Honorable Sam Gejdenson to serve as a Commissioner on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) recommended Mr. Gejdenson.
"USCIRF welcomes Representative Gejdenson as our newest incoming Commissioner," said Leonard Leo, USCIRF chair. He will make significant contributions to our work on behalf of the cherished right of freedom of religion or belief and its fuller integration into U.S. foreign policy and national security." ... more
The Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice is pleased to announce that Katrina Lantos Swett has been appointed to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). The appointment was made on Monday, March 26th, 2012 by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
The USCIRF was created by Congress as part of the International... more
The U.S. Congress has appointed two individuals, Dr. Robert P. George and Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, to serve as Commissioners on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). Comprised of nine commissioners, USCIRF monitors and advocates for religious freedom abroad wherever that right is being abused. USCIRF also offers policy solutions to improve conditions... more
GENEVA (8 March 2012) – On International Women’s Day, the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Rashida Manjoo, calls on States to promote, in particular, the social, cultural, and economic rights of rural women:
"Violence against women results from a complex interplay of individual, family, community and social factors. I have emphasised the need for a holistic approach that does not treat all women homogenously, but recognizes that discrimination and violence affect women in different ways depending on how they are... more
Day of Commemoration in the Memory of Victims of the Holocaust. UN Photo/JC McIlwaine
27 January 2012. UN event marks Annual International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust. The event is observed annually on the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp. This year's theme was "Chidlren and the Holocaust."
26 January 2012. European Parliament marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day. (David Peterson, Brussels)
Pew Research Forum / Project for Excellence in Journalism
Joint Release – 23 February 2012
The biggest religion stories of 2011 involved tensions over Islam and questions about faith in presidential politics, especially Mormonism, according to an annual review of religion in the news by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ) and the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion &... more
The International Center for Law and Religion Studies joins the international religious freedom community in mourning the death on 2 January 2012 of Tunisian human rights advocate Professor Abdelfattah Amor. Professor Amor served from 1993 to 2004 as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief. At the time of his death, Dr. Amor was a member of the UN Human Rights Committee, and had recently been appointed as president of Tunisia’s National Commission for the Investigation of Corruption and Bribery.... more
"This is a huge win for religious liberty. The court has unanimously confirmed the right of churches to select their own ministers and religious leaders. It has unanimously held that the plaintiff in this case was a minister for purposes of the rule. It has unanimously held that the courts cannot inquire into whether the church had religious reasons for its decisions concerning a minister. The longstanding unanimity in the lower courts has now been confirmed by unanimity in the Supreme Court." – Douglas Laycock, Counsel for the Petitioner
23 November 2011. Though admitting that the law "does infringe on religious freedom," a British Columbia Supreme Court has upheld Canada's polygamy laws. In a 335-page decision released on Wednesday, Chief Justice Robert Bauman ruled in favour of the section of the Criminal Code outlawing polygamous unions. In his ruling, Bauman said that the law is justified given the harm polygamy causes to children, women, and "the institution of monogamous marriage." However, suggested Justice Bauman, the law should not be used to criminalize minors who find themselves married into polygamous unions.
25 November 2011. Canada has "as many double standards on polygamy as Solomon had wives. (Tabatha Southey, The Globe and Mail via Worldwide Religious News)
Friday, 4 November 2011, marked significant events for the European Court of Human Rights. On that day the judge elected in respect of France, Mr. André Potocki, was sworn in by the new Court President Sir Nicolas Bratza, whose term of office also began on the same day.
4 May 2012. Ghent seminar on empirical face veil research (May 9). (Saïla Ouald Chaib, Strasbourg Observers)
10 February 2012. Banning the burqa and the European identity crisis. (Mauits Berger, Jurist)
31 January 2012. EU: Dutch government implements ban on face-covering clothing. (eGov Monitor)
28 October 2011. Breaking the law by just stepping out. (Angelique Chrisafis -Guardian News & Media Ltd, Gulf News)
18 October 2011. Embrace secularism; keep religion out of politics. (Ronald A. Lindsay, The Washington Post)
18 October 2011. Secularism and its discontents. Interview with José Casanova. (McGill Daily [Canada])
10 September 2011. Tolerance and Secularism (II) (Salman Arshad, The International Herald Tribune)
10 September 2011. Secularism: The religious touchstone in vogue. (Rümatho Nyusou, The Morung Express)
7 September 2011. Secularism doesn't equal tolerance. (Daniyal Noorani, The International Herald Tribune)
BYU Law School Reporter
South Africa’s Justice Zakeria Mohammed Yacoob was the keynote speaker in the opening session of the 18th Annual International Center for Law and Religion Studies Symposium, "Religious Freedom in a Pluralistic Age: Trends, Challenges and Practices.' Justice Yacoob called listeners to action, stating that all people have the potential to add value in this critical fight for religious freedom.
"Religion, conscience, thought and belief should, I believe, be regarded as the core of our humanity as a crucial component of our humanness," Justice Yacoob said. “They are indeed so crucial and so essential that I doubt whether we would be able to call... more
13 September 2011 - Washington, DC
The U.S. Department of State has released the International Religious Freedom Report for July-December 2010. Comments here are excerpted from the State Department website:
This International Religious Freedom Report documents major developments with respect to religious freedom in 198 countries and territories from July-December 2010. The report reflects a broad understanding of universal religious freedom, one that includes the rights to hold private beliefs, including agnosticism or atheism, as well as the right to communal religious expression and education.
The International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (IRF Act) defines five types of violations of... more
17 May 2011 - Washington, D.C.
Dr. Suzan Johnson Cook, a Baptist New York City pastor, is the new U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom. Cook will advise the President and Secretary of State on worldwide efforts to promote religious liberty. She will also head... more
March 2011 - India
James Cleith Phillips
Fourteen recent converts to Christianity were arrested Tuesday, 29 March 2011, in the Indian state of Orissa for unlawful religious conversion. They were charged with violating Section 4 of the Orissa Religious Freedom Act of 1967, which states that no one can "convert or attempt to convert, either directly or otherwise, any person from one religious faith to another by the use of force or by inducement or by any fraudulent means."
Police are looking for the pastor deemed responsible for the conversions, which apparently took place over a several week period without authorities' cognizance. It is not clear whether any type of force, inducement or fraudulent methods were used to convert the 14 that were arrested.
To view the story as first reported in the Hindustan Times, click here.