News Release

BYU, UP Hold First International Forum on Law and Religion


Brigham Young University (BYU) and University of the Philippines Diliman (UP) sponsored the first International Forum on Law and Religion on 3 August 2017 at the University of the Philippines Law Center. The speakers addressed many facets of the intersection between the secular state and religious freedom in a pluralistic society.  

The Philippines, like many other countries, is addressing issues in their secular society that can impact people's religious beliefs. For example, marriage dissolution, reproductive health and the death penalty. Over 200 people attended the forum. The reaction has been very positive with attendees indicating they want more opportunities to address these type of current and relevant issues.


Professor Cole Durham, Jr., the founding director for the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at the BYU Law School, emphasized that "we need to understand religion to understand the world." He also cited a recent study that indicated that "79% of the world's population resided in countries with high or very high levels of government restrictions or social hostilities toward religion." He congratulated the Philippines because they were one of the countries with the least restrictions and hostilities. 


Hon. Raul C. Pangalangan, International Criminal Court Judge, reminded the audience that the Philippines has a separation of church and state. However, he cited numerous examples where that did not seem to be the case in practice, such as government buildings with areas for religious worship and prayers to start meetings. One humorous comment he made was, "In Europe the churches are empty and the jails are half full, but in the Philippines the churches are full and the jails are more than full."


Other major speakers included Professor Zachary Calo, Ph.D., a full professor at the Hamad bin Khalifa University Law School and a research scholar in Law and Religion at Valparaiso University, and Justice Mario Victor F. Leonen, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines.

The event was sponsored by the Brigham University Law School - International Center for Law and Religion Studies, and the University of the Philippines Law Center in cooperation with the J. Reuben Clark Law Society, and the Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy. Participating academic institutions included Ateneo de Manila University, De la Salle University College of Law, Far Eastern University, Lyceum of the Philippines, New Era University and the University of Asia and the Pacific. Participating organizations included the Catholic Bishop's Conference of the Philippines, Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Lawyers Without Borders, Legal Management Council of the Philippines, Philippine Bar Association, United Church of Christ in the Philippines and the National Ulama Conference of the Philippines.

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