Registration and Deregistration of Religious or Belief Communities and Security

Elizabeth A. Clark is Associate Director, International Center for Law and Religion Studies and Regional Advisor for Europe at the J. Reuben Clark Law School, Brigham Young University

Presentation at the Ministerial to Advance Freedom of Religion or Belief (November 16, 2020, Warsaw, Poland)

In working with government officials and others around the world, I often hear arguments along these lines: religion and religious extremists pose an existential threat to our country. Freedom of religion or belief is a luxury we cannot afford [1]. We have a responsibility to our people to screen out religious groups that are extremist or a danger to the community. We need to have laws limiting registration and banning extremist groups. Our national security depends on it.

Although this has a certain logic, empirical research shows that this argument turns out to have it backward.  Using registration as a means of screening out new, unknown, or potentially threatening religious groups has been shown to undermine security and increase the likelihood of religion-related violence.


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2020 ICLRS Symposium: Renata Uitz’s Speech

Renáta Uitz is Professor and Chair (Director) of the Comparative Constitutional Law at the Central European University

In addition to the theme of “Rights and Responsibilities,” the 2020 ICLRS Symposium gave tribute to W. Cole Durham, Jr., founder of ICLRS. Professor Uitz’s remarks were part of that tribute.

I have known Cole Durham for almost two decades. First, I met him in the classroom at Central European University that was still in Budapest. Over the years, we spent a lot of time together at conferences and workshops. And I also had the utmost privilege of seeing him interact with national and international civil servants who were preparing to draft or redraft legislation on church/state relations. I learned a lot from Cole over these years. More importantly, I learned an equally great deal from watching him interact with civil servants, activists, church leaders, and especially watch him when his audience did not want to hear what he said. The lessons I take away from these experiences are applicable amidst crises and across divides. They are, of course, relevant for issues of law and religion, but they are especially instructive for any work on resilience and resistance strategies at an age when illiberal and populist political actors are steadily on the rise. These political actors very often instrumentalize religion to sow the seeds of distrust and discord against minorities, and they use the law very often to demonize and stigmatize others, including religious minorities. Cole’s work allows us to study the law and the workings of the law in comparative perspectives. His work teaches us that we should focus not on a single event, no matter how dramatic or spectacular, but put legal rules into a broader context making sure that we understand the larger trends.


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2020 ICLRS Symposium: President Eyring’s Welcoming Remarks

President Henry B. Eyring

On behalf of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I extend a warm welcome to all who are participating in the 27th Annual International Law and Religion Symposium sponsored by the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at BYU Law School. This symposium is the world’s premier conference where religious leaders and leading scholars and government authorities come together to discuss global religious freedom issues. Deeper appreciation and understanding of the values of religious freedom for the peoples of the world will be the fruits of this symposium. This year’s topic, Religious Freedom: Rights and Responsibilities, reflects well our faith’s beliefs in the importance of both religious freedom and responsibility in respecting the rights and needs of everyone.


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