Image for Elizabeth Clark discusses the Johnson Amendment on BYU Radio

Top of Mind with Julie Rose, a BYU radio show focused on current events, interviewed Associate Director Elizabeth Clark in regards to recent religious freedom issues under President Trump. Professor Clark shared her insights on the Johnson Amendment and the President's threats to repeal it, concerns surrounding the potential loss of tax exempt status for various churches and ancillary organizations associated with churches, the perception that religious freedom implies discrimination, and the recent travel ban.

While discussing the clash between those who believe that... more

Image for Center Welcomes Ján Figeľ to the Academic Advisory Board

The International Center for Law and Religion Studies of the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University is honored to announce that Dr. Ján Figeľ, the European Commission's first Special Envoy for promotion of freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) outside the European Union, has accepted the invitation to join the Center's Academic Advisory Board. The fourteen members of this distinguished group of globally recognized scholars make outstanding contributions to illuminating the intricacies of religious freedom principles and promoting enlightened discussion of those principles, significantly advancing the Center's mission and the cause of religious freedom throughout the world. Since his appointment as Special Envoy in May 2016, Dr. Figeľ has worked tirelessly throughout the world to fulfill his mission, and in the process has enriched a great many of the Center's endeavors... more

Image for Brett Scharffs named to Religious Freedom Institute's Board of Advisors

Professor Brett Scharffs, Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at BYU Law School, has been named to the Board of Advisors of the newly organized Religious Freedom Institute (RFI) based in Washington, DC. RFI is an outgrowth of the Religious Freedom Project (RFP) at Georgetown University's Berkeley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs. Formation of the new entity, which is "committed to achieving broad acceptance of religious liberty as a fundamental human right, the cornerstone of a successful society, and a source of national and international security," was spearheaded by RFP partners Thomas Farr, Timothy Shah, Byron Johnson, and Kent Hill. Professor Scharffs is an alumnus of Georgetown University, where he earned a BSBA in international business and an MA in philosophy.... more

Image for The Center Welcomes Adesina J. Olukanni in the Role of Senior Fellow for Africa

The International Center for Law and Religion Studies at Brigham Young University Law School is pleased to announce that Adesina J. Olukanni, recently retired as the Director of Public Affairs for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for Africa West Area, has accepted an invitaition to serve as the Center's Senior Fellow for Africa. He was the Country Director in Nigeria for Church Education Systems 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.

Adesina has served in numerous Church positions, including high counsellor, branch president, district president’s counsellor, district president, mission president’s counsellor, stake president... more

Image for Erlend 'Pete' Peterson Named as Center Senior Fellow for the Middle East

The International Center for Law and Religion Studies at BYU Law School is pleased to announced that Erlend "Pete" Peterson, recently retired from service as Brigham Young University's Associate International Vice President, has accepted a position as Center Senior Fellow for the Middle East.

During his fifty years of full-time employment at BYU, Pete served in several professional positions in Admissions and Records (35 years), as Assistant Dean, Associate Dean, and Dean of Admissions and Records (25 years). For the past 15 years he was Associate International Vice President, which included many international roles and hosting, including a close working relationship with the International Center for Law and Religion... more

Image for Scharffs' paper 'Why Religious Freedom? Why the Religiously Committed, the Religiously Indifferent, and Those Hostile to Religion Should Care' — Top 10 on SSRN

Center Director Brett Scharffs paper, "Why Religious Freedom? Why the Religiously Committed, the Religiously Indifferent and Those Hostile to Religion Should Care" has been listed on Social Science Research Network's (SSRN) Top Ten download list in four categories: "Human Rights, Justice for Nonhuman Animals, Ecologies, Environments"; "Race, Ethnicity & Identity Politics";  Political Behavior eJournals"; and "U.S. Constitutional Law: Rights & Liberties eJournals".

The paper is available for download on SSRN at this link. The abstract for the paper is below:

Religious freedom: Is it the grandparent of human rights, or the neglected stepchild? As with... more

Image for EU, UK, Commonwealth FoRB Conference, January 2017 in Brussels

On Wednesday 25th January 2017, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) European Union Office and Andrew Lewer MBE MEP hosted a conference entitled "European Union, United Kingdom, and Commonwealth cooperation in the promotion of freedom of religion or belief" ('FoRB'). The event was organised in partnership with the European Parliament Intergroup on FoRB & Religious Tolerance. Keynote addresses were delivered by Ján Figel’, Special Envoy for Promotion of Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) outside the European Union, and David Rutley MP, UK. Other speakers included event organizers Franceso Di Lillo, Head of LDS EU Office, and Professor Neville Rochow CS, European Union Government Relations Representative and Barrister (Australia), as well as Brian J. Grim, President of the International Religious Freedom & Business Association, Simon McCrossan, Head of Public Policy for the Evangelical Alliance UK, and Pasquale Annicchino... more

Image for Hannah Clayton Smith Delivers 2017 Durham Lecture: 'Religious Liberty: The Promise of American Religious Pluralism'

Hannah C. Smith, Senior Counsel for Becket Law, Washington, DC, delivered the 2017 G. Homer Durham Lecture at the J. Reuben Clark Law School on 26 January at the J. Reuben Clark Law School. She spoke on the topic "Religious Liberty: The Promise of American Religious Pluralism."

Smith began the lecture by looking at religious freedom through the doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She quoted several religious leaders and established four primary doctrinal themes: the conflict between religious and secularist voices; the growing intolerance towards... more

Image for South Asia Consortium for Religion and Law Studies (SACRALS) Established in India

At a meeting of international religious scholars in New Delhi in January 2017 a new entity was launched, an academic, apolitical and non-governmental regional association to be known as the South Asia Consortium for Religion and Law Studies [SACRALS]. with Professor Tahir Mahmood as its first president. Professor Brett Scharffs and Professor Cole Durham, the Director and Founding Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies (ICLRS) at Brigham Young University, along with members of the Center's International Advisory Council, attended the launch.

Religion and Law Studies – encompassing theoretical and empirical studies and research on the relationship between state, law, and religion in a human rights perspective – is a fast-growing academic discipline being pursued in many leading universities across the globe. The International Center for Religion... more

Image for Lectures from the Restoring Religious Freedom Conference Available on YouTube
Cole Durham, Mark Goldfeder, Ján Figel’

By Patti Ghezzi, Emory Law, 7 Dec 2016: Restoring Religious Freedom Conference: Law, Religion, Equality, and Dignity

Sunday, Nov. 6
A Century of Genocides: Is Better Accommodation of Conscience an Answer?

  • A Conversation between Ján Figel’, EU Special Envoy on Freedom of Religion or Belief, and 
  • W. Cole Durham, Founding Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies
  • Moderator: Mark Goldfeder, Senior Lecturer, Emory University School of Law; Spruill Family Fellow in Law and Religion, Center for the Study of Law and Religion,
... more
Image for Vietnam Government Committee for Religious Affairs Receives Delegation of US lawyers

GCRA Press Release — GCRA receives US lawyers delegation

Prof. Cole Durham, Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies under Brigham Young University led a delegation to visit the Government Committee for Religious Committee (GCRA) on January 20, 2016.

Joining the US delegation included First Secretary of the United States Embassy in Hanoi David V. Muehlke, Political Officer of US Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh city Garret Harkin.

Welcoming the delegation were Vice Chairman of the GCRA Bùi Thanh Hà, representatives from the National Assembly Committee for Culture, Education, Youth, Adolescents and Children, the Government Office, the Ministry of Justice and the GCRA Departments for International... more

Image for Managing Director Robert T. Smith to Serve as a Mission President in Argentina

With many thanks for his hard work and dedication, the International Center for Law and Religion Studies announces the departure of Robert T. Smith, who has served the Center as Managing Director since 2006. Beginning June 22, 2016, Bob will begin a three-year term of service as President of the Argentina Buenos Aires North Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"For the past decade Bob has served the Center with grace and patience," said ICLRS Director Brett Scharffs, "often performing tasks of uncertain and almost limitless... more

Image for First-of-its-kind Master’s Degree in Sharia and Human Rights Announced - May 2016

ICLRS Director Brett Scharffs participated in the announcement of the creation of the first-of-its-kind Master’s Degree Program on Sharia and Human Rights at Muhammadiyah University in Malang, Indonesia. The announcement came on May 30, 2016, at the opening of the fifth annual Master’s Level Course on Sharia and Human Rights held at the University, which Scharffs has helped organize and teach. The Masters’ level Course (MLC), which began five years ago as a special side-course, has now been approved as an official for-credit course in the University’s curriculum. And now a full Master’s Degree focusing on Sharia and Human Rights will build upon the curriculum used in the MLC.... more

Image for Brett Scharffs at Third Yogyakarta Short Course on Sharia and Human Rights - May 2016

Center Director Brett Scharffs participated in a Short Course on "Sharia and Human Rights: Scholarly Background and Cases of Controversy in Contemporary Indonesia," held at Universitas Gadjah Mada, one of Indonesia’s leading state universities, in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, from May 23-27, 2016. This was the third year Professor Scharffs helped organize and teach in this program. 

The Short Course, which was modeled on a similar course at Muhammadiyah University that was taught for the fifth time the following week, is designed to find networks of discourse between two very different types of legal systems – International Human Rights law and Islamic Law. The course brings together leading experts from Indonesia and beyond on... more

Image for Symposium on International Religious Freedom, St. John's College, Oxford UK - June 2016
Baroness Elizabeth Berridge, Professor Robert George, Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Professor Cole Durham (Photo LDS Church)

International religious freedom experts participating in a Symposium on International Religious Freedom at St. John's College, Oxford on 9 June 2016 were Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Member of the Quorum of the Twelve of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; Baroness Elizabeth Berridge of the Vale of Catmose, Member of the United Kingdom House of Lords and Founder/Co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group; Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University and formerly member and chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom; W. Cole Durham, Jr., Susa Young Gates University Professor of Law at Brigham Young University, Founding Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, and President of the International... more

Image for Freedom of Religion or Belief: Round Table Discussion in the UK House of Lords - June 2016
L-R: Mark Hill QC, Sir Malcolm Evans, Professor Robert George, Dr. Peter Petkoff, Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Professor Cole Durham (Photo LDS Church)

A Round Table Discussion, Freedom of Religion or Belief – Emerging Trends, Challenges and Agendas for Change, took place Wednesday, 8th June 2016, at the House of Lords in London. Participating in the two-hour discussion were Prof Sir Malcolm Evans OBE (Bristol University UK), Prof Mark Hill QC (Cardiff University UK), Prof Robert P. George (Princeton University USA), Elder Dallin H. Oaks (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), Prof W. Cole Durham, Jr. (Brigham Young University USA), and Dr Peter Petkoff (Brunel and Regent’s Park College, Oxford UK). The participants were welcomed to Parliament by Baroness Elizabeth Berridge of the Vale of Catmose, Member of the House of Lords and Founder/Co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group.... more

Image for Center Contributions: The Brill Encyclopedia of Law and Religion

The publishers have announced the release of the Brill Encyclopedia of Law and Religion. General Editors of this five-volume work are Gerhard Robbers, Professor Emeritus at the University of Trier and formerly Minister of Justice and for Consumer Protection of Rhineland-Palatinate (Germany), and W. Cole Durham, Jr,. Susa Young Gates University Professor of Law at Brigham Young University and Founding Director of BYU Law School's International Center for Law and Religion Studies. Associate Editor is Donlu Thayer, the Center's Senior Editor, who is also an Associate Editor of the Oxford Journal of Law and Religion

The editors acknowledge with deep gratitude the contribution of Ashley Isaacson Woolley, whose editorial expertise, applied to essentially every article, contributed immeasurably and essentially to the completion of the work. A number of people associated with the International Center for Law and Religion Studies... more

Image for Work Edited by Durham and Thayer Launches ICLARS Series on Law and Religion

The publishers have announced the June 2016 release of Religion and Equality: Law in Conflict, edited by International Center of Law and Religions Studies (ICLRS) Founding Director W. Cole Durham, Jr. and ICLRS Senior Editor Donlu D. Thayer. This long-awaited book is first title in the new ICLARS Series in Law and Religion, published by Routledge, an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group. Professor Durham, in addition to his role at ICLRS, is second and current President of ICLARS, the International Consortium for Law and Religion Studies, headquartered in Milan, Italy. The ICLARS Series will officially launch at the Fourth ICLARS Conference, to be held in Oxford, UK, in September 2016. 

Religion and Equality is the first of two books with origins in the Third ICLARS Conference, held in Virginia in August 2013. A second volume from this conference, ... more

Image for Elder Lance Wickman & President Matthew Holland at Religious Freedom Annual Review

Elder Lance B. Wickman, General Counsel, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Emeritus General Authority, and Matthew S. Holland, President, Utah Valley University, are confirmed as keynote speakers for the 2016 Religious Freedom Annual Review. Hosted by the BYU International Center for Law and Religion Studies of the J. Reuben Clark Law School, this two-day conference is open to the public and will include sessions and workshops focusing on political trends and religious freedom, understanding media coverage of religion, protecting religion in the workplace, and the role of interfaith cooperation in protecting religious freedom.... more

Image for Brett G. Scharffs Appointed Director of International Center for Law and Religion Studies

Outgoing BYU Law School Dean James R. Rasband announced the appointment, effective May 1, 2016, of Brett G. Scharffs as the new Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies.

The Center, since its beginning on January 1, 2000, has played an internationally significant role in the work of the Law School. With a mission to help secure the blessings of freedom of religion and belief for all people, Center faculty and staff, aided by hundreds of BYU law students, have worked to disseminate knowledge and expertise regarding the interrelationship of law and religion, through scholarship, network building, participation in law-reform processes, and organization and sponsorship of hundreds of conferences, at BYU and throughout the world.... more

Image for Professor Scharffs Lectures on Hate Speech at the University of Padua - May 2016

On May 6th, 2016 Professor Brett Scharffs, Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, spoke at a conference on Comparative Perspectives on Hate Speech, at the Treviso Campus of the University of Padua. The conference included students studying comparative public law and economic and social rights. In his speech, "Beyond Juris Centric Approaches to Hate Speech," Professor Scharffs addressed the role that audiences play in the phenomenology of hate speech. He noted that usually hate speech does not result in direct physical harm to either the speaker or the victim of hate speech, but audiences are often provoked to violence. But it is noteworthy that often there is a significant passage of time between the initial hate speech and the violent reaction that the hate speech... more

Image for Professor Scharffs Presents on Religious Majorities and Religious Freedom - May 2016

At a recent gathering of a select group of university professors, businesspeople, NGO organizations, and students in Padua, Italy on 6 May 2016, Professor Brett Scharffs made a dinner presentation and led a discussion on the topic of the role that religious majorities play in either promoting or limiting religious freedom. The presentation was organized by the Associazone Culturale Antonio Rosmini, Padova. 

In his presentation, Professor Scharffs noted that in most countries where there is a dominant religious group representing more than 70% of the population, social science research finds there is usually high or very high legal... more

Image for Professors Durham and Scharffs Teach Comparative Freedom of Religion at CEU - 2016

Professor Brett Scharffs and Professor Cole Durham, Director and Founding Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at Brigham Young University, have concluded their annual course, Comparative Freedom of Religion, in the Department of Legal Studies at Central European University (CEU) in Budapest, Hungary. The class, begun by Professor Durham in April and concluded by Professor Scharffs on May 5, 2016, included 26 students from 18 different countries, and addressed law and religion issues regarding both individual freedom of religion and belief and institutional arrangements between religion and the state from an international law and comparative law perspective.... more

Image for Professor Durham speaks at Freedom of Religion Symposium in Denver, 12 March 2016

On the 12th of March 2016, Professor Cole Durham participated in a Freedom of Religion Symposium at the University of Denver Law School, Denver, CO. Professor Durham was part of a panel of religious liberty experts and practitioners discussing the fundamentals of religious liberty law, emerging conflicts, and steps individuals can take to promote religious freedom at the state and local community level. Steven T. Collis, an attorney at Holland & Hart, chaired the event. Other panelists were Luke Goodrich, Deputy General Counsel, Becket Fund for Religious Liberty; Timothy M. Tymkovich, Chief Judge, US Court of Appeal for the Tenth Circuit; Qusair Mohamedbhai, Partner, Rathod/Mohamedbhair, LLC, and Adjunct Professor of Law, University of Denver; and Jennifer Kraska, Executive Director, Colorado Catholic Conference. The primary sponsor of the event was Holland and Hart, with the J. Reuben Clark Law Society, Chipman/Glasser, and Hall Render providing additional sponsorship.

Program/Speaker Recordings

Image for Brett Scharffs and BYU Law Students in Venice for Conference and Moot Court Competition
Photo credit: Fondazione Marcianum

Professor Brett Scharffs, Center Associate Director and Law School Associate Dean for Faculty and Curriculum, participated at the conference "The Legitimate Scope of Religious Establishment", held March 7-9, 2016 in Venice, Italy.  The conference was sponsored by the Fondazione Studium Generale Marcianum (Fondazione Marcianum), and features prominent academics from throughout the world, assembled to discuss such questions as "What are the essential features of establishment regimes? Should any limits be set to the establishment of religion? Are there any means of support that should be ruled out? May a decent state grant preferential treatment to one religion over other religions (or some of them)? If so, on which basis could... more

Image for Sharing Religious Liberty in 30 Seconds: Winners of the Clark Society Contest

The Religious Liberty Committee of the J. Reuben Clark Law Society has announced the winners of their 2015 contest, "Sharing Religious Liberty in 30 Seconds." More than 150 entries were submitted. See the winning entries here.  And more submissions here.   

Image for Delegation from France visits the Center

On Friday, 4 March 2016, a delegation from France, invited to the United States under the auspices of the Department of State's International Visitor Leadership Program, and arranged by the Utah Council for Citizen Diplomacy, visited the International Center for Law and Religion Studies as part of their time at Brigham Young University. The three French visitors, Ali Dahmani, Director, ACSECE, Capelette Mosque, Marseille; Frederique Neau-Dufour, PhD, Director, European Center of Deported Resistance Members; and Emmanuel Valency, Rabbi of Bordeaux and Southwestern France, met with Cole Durham, Center Director, and Gary Doxey, Associate Director. The meeting included an overview of the Center and its mission, as well as a comparison between the... more