J. Reuben Clark Law Society

2014 Religious Freedom Conference: A Galactic Battle

"Just because you turned to the dark side...." Yes, even allusions to Star Wars were included in the BYU International Center for Law and Religion Studies' Religious Freedom Conference held July 7-9.  Panelists exchanged these pleasantries as they played out the arguments from the Supreme Courts' recent decision in Hobby Lobby.

Turning from the galactic battle over the Hobby Lobby case, the Conference got down to "Business."  Religious freedom and business became the Conference's focus as participants discussed cutting-edge research showing the benefits of religious freedom to the business community.  A subsequent panel of professors from across the country discussed the implications of same-sex marriage for religious freedom.

After covering these "cutting-edge" topics, speakers covered the nuts and bolts of religious freedom. Two panels covered the establishment and free exercise clauses. Subsequent speakers then delved into the religious freedom implications of taxation, land use, RFRA, and education. The final day of the conference focused on international religious freedom protections.

In a luncheon on the final day of the Conference, Bill Atkin, Associate General Counsel for the Church, laid down a passionate challenge that we all do something to promote and protect religious freedom. He explained that with the array of topics covered in the Conference, and so many topics not covered by the Conference, it doesn't matter where we start. We just need to start somewhere.

Information about the Law Society's current religious freedom efforts is available here: http://www.jrcls.org/chapters/religion.php Video recordings of the conference are available for purchase at http://ce.byu.edu/cw/iclrs/ The Center plans to hold another conference in July 2015. Additional details to follow.

By Robert Snyder

Posted: September 5, 2014