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Series: (Un)friendly Algorithm: Religious Freedom and Digital Technologies

By Neville Rochow, Yulia Razmetaeva, and Sohail Wahedi

This blog series explores some threats that digital technologies can create to freedom of religion or belief and other civil rights. It starts with Neville Rochow’s elaboration on the potential harmfulness of algorithm-based decision-making if the program does not take account of religious beliefs. Rochow emphasizes that the predictable and (in many ways) helpful expansion of AI’s role in everyday life must be accompanied by companies’ greater corporate accountability and obedience to the law.

Yulia Razmetaeva explains why AI technology may be non-neutral and have a significant influence on freedom of thought pointing at it as a source of fake information  that calls for violence.

Finally, Sohail Wahedi discusses how social media  has affected religious self-expression and what we should do to successfully navigate between the Scylla of censorship and the Charybdis of religious hate speech.

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Series: Judges and Their Religions

By Jeremy Patrick, David G. Campbell, Andrea Pin, Christine Venter, David Kenny, and Adelaide Madera

In this series, we provide different perspectives on religion and judging. Five contributors, academics and a U.S. federal judge explore religious diversity and the judiciary, interplays between religious convictions and judicial ethics, and the role of religion and religious beliefs in professional and personal biographies of judges.

The series starts with Jeremy Patrick’s elaboration on interplays between religious diversity and the composition of the High Court of Australia. David G. Campbell discusses public concerns about possible tensions between religious adherence and the judiciary oath and argues that religious devotion can be consistent with good judging. Based on the examples of Israel and Egypt, Andrea Pin demonstrates how judges’ religious law-illiteracy can give a secular push to legal systems with the religious component.

Based on the example of the South African Supreme Court’s Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, Christine Venter addresses the obligation of judges to separate their personal religious convictions and the legal reasoning they provide in their decisions. David Kenny explores the biography of Brian Walsh, a prominent Irish justice and a judge of the Strasbourg Court, and the role his Catholic background plays in his jurisprudence.

Finally, Adelaide Madera returns to the composition of the judicial branch in religiously pluralist societies and explains why, in her view, a more inclusive judiciary would contribute to the social acceptability of judicial reasoning.

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The 28th Annual Law and Religion Symposium, sponsored by the International Center for Law and Religion Studies and BYU Law School, was centered on “A Time to Heal: Peace among Cultures; Understanding between Religions.”

Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints began the 28th Annual Law and Religion Symposium Sunday, October 3, 2021, with a discussion about healing and equal privileges of belief among all people. From a pre-recording at the G20 Interfaith Summit in Bologna, Italy, held in September,  panelists included Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Sister Sharon Eubank, first counselor in the Relief Society general presidency and president of Latter-day Saint Charities, and Elder Jack N. Gerard, a General Authority Seventy. Brett G. Scharffs, a professor at BYU Law School and director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, moderated the discussion. This was the second time the symposium was hosted virtually because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The International Criminal Court is in somewhat of a bind in the situation regarding Myanmar and has developed an interesting solution. Prosecuting people for genocide in Myanmar is impossible without a Security Council referral, which is very unlikely, even if the US and UK were to accuse Myanmar of genocide. The possibility of prosecuting people from Myanmar for crimes against humanity that were partially committed within the territory of Bangladesh provides a potential route to some criminal accountability. This route, however, has already been pursued without countries needing to publicly accuse Myanmar of genocide. Accusations from the US and UK would not help the International Criminal Court gain jurisdiction over the case, and therefore the Court would still be unable to prosecute people in Myanmar for genocide in this situation.

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Human Dignity Initiative

Celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with an invitation to a global conversation about preserving and protecting human dignity for everyone everywhere.

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