Blog series on current law and religion topics

Following our previous series on (un)friendly algorithms and human rights, this series traces the historical roots of using machines for spiritual purposes and elaborates on AI’s influence on religious expression in the contemporary world (Panin); discusses the phenomenon of the sacralization of AI as a new “omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent” deity (Razmetaeva); argues that AI encourages the commodification of religious experiences, turning believers into consumers of “superior religious services” (Eddebo); and asserts that “tech giants and their algorithms” are the latest iteration of destructive monsters that have oppressed human freedom and rights since early modern times (Rochow).

Stanislav Panin. Challenges and Promises of Artificial Intelligence in Religion

Yulia Razmetaeva. Sacralization of AI

Johan Eddebo. AI and Commodification of Religion

Neville Rochow. Another Case of Déjà-Vu: The Sacrifice of Conscience to Monsters


In March 2022, after Russia’s full-scale attack on Ukraine had begun, we published a series exploring the role of religion in the war. In that series, we argued that the religious component of the conflict has manifested itself in a variety of aspects: from religious justification and rhetoric employed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, to the perception of the war by Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox churches, to threats to religious freedom in territories under Russian control. Commemorating the first-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion, we provide an update on these topics.

Jerry G. Pankhurst. Both Symptom and Cause: Four Problems in Eastern Orthodoxy Reflected in the Ukraine War

Robert C. Blitt. Russia’s Constitutionalized Civilizational Identity and the Moscow Patriarchate’s War on Ukraine

Alar Kilp. The Role of the ROC in the Sacralization of Secular Imperial Nationalism

Regina Elsner. No End to the Dead End? The Difficult Relationship Between the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and the Moscow Patriarchate

Catherine Wanner. The Effects of War and Collaboration on Trust in Ukraine

Andriy Fert. Between Scylla and Charybdis: The Ukrainian Orthodox Parish During the War

Stanislav Panin. Russian Alternative Spiritualities During the First Year of the War

Dmytro Vovk. Not My Church: Ukraine’s New Draft Law Dealing with the Ukraine Orthodox Church of (not) the Moscow Patriarchate

Michelle Coleman. The War and Religion in Ukraine: The Role of NGOs in Evidence Collection for Future International Trials

The ICLRS held its 29th Annual International Law and Religion Symposium, “Religion’s Roles in Peacebuilding,” 1–5 October 2022. While the Covid pandemic restricted Symposia to online meetings in 2020 and 2021, this year’s Symposium gathered more than 80 delegates from 40 countries for sessions and related events at the J. Reuben Clark Law School, Brigham Young University, and in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. The following select presentations are illustrative of the depth and breadth of the Symposium’s 90-plus presentations.

Daniel Philpott. Religion and Peace

Sharon EubankReligion’s Roles in Peacebuilding: Religion and Interfaith Engagement in Times of Conflict and Disaster

James Christie. Understanding Religion’s Roles in Peacebuilding

Asma Redi BalekerReligion’s Roles in Peacebuilding in Ethiopia: Religion and Interfaith Engagement in Times of Conflict and Disaster

Elizabeth A. Clark. Enemies and Brothers

Andrew Teal. Fidei Defensor

Carlos Bernal PulidoThe Role of Religious Groups in the 2016 Colombian Plebiscite for Peace and Implementation of the Peace Agreement

Rakesh NaidooA New Zealand Police Perspective on Religions’ Roles in Peacebuilding

Andrew MethvenThe AMAR Foundation: Remedies to Religious Persecution, Lessons in Peacebuilding

Jennifer G. WoodsPeacebuilding and the Seventh-day Adventist Church

Muhammadou M.O. KahReligions’ Roles in Peacebuilding in The Gambia

The 2022 Religious Freedom Annual Review, held on 16 June at Brigham Young University, focused on the theme “Living Peaceably: Religious Freedom as a Foundation for Religious Harmony.” Panelists in the opening plenary session shared personal reflections on “Why Religious Freedom Matters to Me.” Edited summaries of their presentations are available below:

Reverend Marian Edmonds-Allen. Why Religious Freedom Matters to Me

Simran Jeet Singh.Why Religious Freedom Matters to Me

Chris Seiple. Why Religious Freedom Matters to Me


In September 2022 The Review of Faith & International Affairs published an issue dedicated to freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) and women’s rights across the OSCE region. The issue brought together a broad and rich variety of papers focusing on international law issues; the role religions and religious freedom play in the promotion of gender equality, as well as in religion-related reservations and political opposition to relevant international law; and tensions between religious organizations and human rights defenders working in this sphere. In this series, we continue exploring this multifaceted topic.

Interview: Nazila Ghanea on Freedom of Religion or Belief and Gender Equality as Non-Clashing Rights

Marie Juul PetersenReligion, Gender, and Sexuality: Three Points on Freedom of Religion or Belief

Montserrat Gas AixendriHow to Make Progress on Gender Equality Without Decreasing Religious Freedom: The OSCE Context

Regina ElsnerUkrainian Churches and the Implementation of the Istanbul Convention in Ukraine: Being European Without Accepting “Gender”


In 2022, the ICLRS cosponsored two conferences as part of The AMAR International Charitable Foundation’s Windsor Dialogue series. The following posts, summarizing conference presentations, are representative of just some of the expertise and viewpoints shared during the 2022 Windsor Dialogue conferences.

Bishop Alastair Redfern. Fostering Frameworks that Set People Free

Sharon Eubank. Eight Years, Three Steps

Alastair AgerA Faith‑Sensitive Approach in Humanitarian Response

Maryanne LoughryThe Promotion of Music, Mental Health, and Preservation of Culture and Religion to International Agencies

Fitzroy Morrissey. Islamic Views on Music

Erin Bailey. Impact of Music Participation on the Psychological Wellbeing of Refugees

Aldo Zammit BordaWhy Iraq Should Enact Laws Criminalizing Genocide

The First Brazilian Symposium on Religious Freedom was held in Rio de Janeiro, 23–25 March 2022. The symposium was organized by the Brazilian Center of Studies in Law and Religion and the International Center for Law and Religion Studies of the J. Reuben Clark Law School, Brigham Young University. Participants included dozens of leaders from religious organizations, academic institutions, government entities, and nongovernmental and civil society organizations—from Brazil and other Latin American countries, the United States, and Europe. The following summaries provide a small glimpse into ideas exchanged at this first-of-its-kind event

Edna Vasconcelos Zilli. Panorama of Religious Coexistence in Brazil

Marcio Henrique Pereira PonzilacquaLaw, Religion, and Society: Sociology’s View of Law and Religion

Ruth Junginger de AndradeThoughts on Law, Religion, and Society

Carmen Asiaín PereiraThe Reception of the Right to Religious Freedom in Latin America

Carmen Asiaín PereiraLa Recepción del Derecho de Libertad Religiosa en América Latina


The religious component of the Russian-Ukrainian war has manifested itself in a variety of aspects: from religious justification and rhetoric employed by Russian president Vladimir Putin, to the perception of the war by Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox churches, to the dramatic situation with religious freedom in the territories under Russia and its proxies’ control. These and other issues are discussed in this series.


The series contains tributes to Archbishop Desmond Tutu who recently passed away. The posts commemorate Tutu’s life-long efforts to promote peace, reconciliation, and human dignity and reflect on his legacy as a theologian and human rights advocate


The First Annual Forum on Law and Religion of the Southern Cone, “Human Dignity and Religious Freedom,” was held in Santiago, Chile, 28–29 October 2021. The forum was sponsored by BYU’s International Center for Law and Religion Studies, the Chilean government’s National Office of Religious Affairs, and the Center for Law and Religion at Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. Below are links to select forum remarks, available in both Spanish and English


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 International Center for Law and Religion Studies speakers at the 2021 G20 Interfaith Forum Summit in Bologna, Italy along with leaders from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Summit Theme is “A Time to Heal.”

In June 2021 the ICLRS Blog, “Talk About: Law and Religion,” hosted a webinar on advancing religious freedom in different political regimes. The panelists (Brett G. Scharffs, Seng Mai Aung, Ján Figeľ, Mine Yildirim, Knox Thames, and Elizabeth A. Clark) talked about their personal experiences in Iraq, Myanmar, Pakistan, Turkey, and Uzbekistan focusing on challenges and restrictions religious and belief communities face in these countries and other parts of the world.

This series offers a set of essays written from various perspectives—Catholic, Orthodox, and secular—and with different outcomes—more positive and supportive, and more critical—concerning both ideas and approaches articulated in the 2019 Declaration and its political implications.

Rohingya Muslims Flee Violence In Myanmar

In this series we discuss the conception “grievous religious persecution” developed by Werner Nicolaas Nel in his recently published book.

In this series, we look at the individualization of religious beliefs through lenses of social philosophy, religious studies, and law.

This series develops the theme we were discussing in one of our previous conversations: the normative, political, and symbolic role of mentioning God in the Australian Constitutions.

This series explores the normative, interpretative, political, and symbolic role of mentioning God, the Trinity, and other sacraments in secular constitutions. The contributors consider the German, Greek, Irish, Polish, and Russian cases.

In October 2020, Fratelli tutti, Pope Francis’s new encyclical was released. This 287-paragraph document provides a Catholic perspective on a variety of questions from human dignity and political integration from the lack of public trust and peacemaking to the death penalty and fake news. Talk About: Law and Religion posts a series of theological and philosophical reflections on Fratelli tutti.

Developed from contributions to an international Webinar held 16 April 2010, Episode 2 of the Webinar Series COVID-19 and Freedom of Religion or Belief. Hear panelist addressing: How is this global emergency affecting our concept of human dignity? How can we ensure that restrictions to civil liberties that we accept for our collective safety respect human dignity and human rights?

Scholars from Israel, the United Kingdom, and Ukraine discuss a landmark case, believed to be the first time the criminal justice system in the UK has been used on behalf of an agunah – a “chained” woman left unable to remarry according to Jewish law because her husband denies her a religious divorce.’ Evoked in this case are issues not only of Jewish and British law, but of family law, religious autonomy, and women’s rights, with ”wide implications within the Orthodox Jewish community and potentially in other communities, when religious laws are abused .’