J. Reuben Clark Law Society

Mormon Studies Program at Claremont University
Hosts Religious Freedom Conference

On March 25-26, 2016, the Mormon Studies program at Claremont Graduate University held a conference entitled "Religious Freedom in the 21st Century.” The program was co-sponsored by the Howard W. Hunter Foundation and the Drs. Oi-Lin and Tei-Fu Chen Family.  

Elder Dallin Oaks

The keynote address of this two-day conference was from Elder Dallin H. Oaks, who spoke on the subject of "Religious Freedom in a Pluralistic Society.” In his address, Elder Oaks urged for a "cease-fire" in the culture wars that are dividing our society, and stressed that understanding and civility are indispensable ingredients to bringing an end to such culture wars.

Sister Kristin Oaks

Elder Oaks further encouraged both sides to remember that our shared humanity is greater than our disagreements, and stated: "[Our] differences must not be allowed to obscure the undeniable reality that we are fellow citizens who need each other and who can resolve our differences through mutual respect, mutual understanding, and, where necessary by compromise or by the rule of law.”

Sister Kristen Oaks, wife of Elder Oaks, was also a featured speaker at the conference, and spoke on the topic of "Women for All Seasons.” She reminded us that "[God] expects us not to simply face the future, he expects us to embrace and shape the future—to love it, rejoice in it and delight in our opportunities.”

Other keynote addresses were given by Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett, former chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, and Judge Thomas B. Griffith, from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Dr. Swett spoke about the current challenges to religious freedom arising on a global scale and concerning the many complexities and issues being faced by a vast number of the world's population. Judge Griffith focused on the U.S. Supreme Court's recent Obergefell decision and the challenges to religious liberty that have arisen since that decision.

A fascinating round table panel of contrasting religious liberty viewpoints was moderated by Doug Fabrizio, host of KUER's RadioWest program. The diverse group of panelists featured Kathleen Flake, Chair of Mormon Studies at the University of Virginia with an LDS viewpoint; Monica A. Miller, Senior Counsel for the American Humanist Association with an atheist viewpoint; Reverend Steve Pieters from the Metropolitan Community Church in Los Angeles with an LGBT viewpoint; and Professor Michael Uhlmann from Claremont Graduate University with an evangelical viewpoint.    

Dr. Patrick Q. Mason, the Howard W. Hunter chair of Mormon Studies, was both a speaker and significant contributor to the conference, and attorney Stephen Bradford supervised the organization of the conference. Additional notable speakers at the conference included W. Cole Durham, Jr., Alexander Dushku, Frederick M. Gedicks, Steven K. Green, Sherman A. Jackson, Amjad Mahmood Khan, Andrew Koppelman, Hans Noot, A. Rashied Omar, Brent N. Rushforth, Najeeba Syeed, and Tisa J. Wenger. To view speakers’ addresses, go to http://claremontmormonstudies.org/events/religious-freedom-in-the-21st-century-mormon-studies-conference-2016/.

By:  Jeff Shields, Chair, Religious Freedom Committee of Law Society


Posted: July 29, 2016