News Release

BYU, UP Host 2nd Annual International Forum on Law and Religion


The Brigham Young University Law School and the University of the Philippines College of Law, in cooperation with the Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy, held the second annual International Forum on Law and Religion (IFLR) on Thursday, 14 June 2018, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm at the University of the Philippines Bonifacio Global City Campus, Taguig, Metro Manila.

Legal experts and legal scholars were selected to speak at the forum with the theme Religious Freedom: Rights, Trends and Opportunities.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, gave the keynote address in the first plenary session. A lawyer by profession before his call to serve as one of the worldwide leaders of the Church, Elder Christofferson addressed the audience with the topic Religious Freedom: The Foundation of the Rule of Law.

“Religious Freedom undergirds and is inseparably connected to all other freedom we cherish. It is the core right,” he said in his opening speech. In his 60-minute speech, Elder Christofferson explained how religious freedom plays a critical role in protecting all rights and other liberties, such as freedom of speech, expression and individual liberty.

Dr. Brian J. Grim, Ph.D., the president of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, addressed the audience in the second plenary with the topic Is Religion Good for Business? A leading scholar on international religious demography and the socio-economic impact of religious freedom, Dr. Grim shared insights, videos and examples about how religion contributes to the business industry. He explained that highly religious people are more likely to volunteer at least once a week in their community as well as donate to poor people versus those who don’t consider religion as very important. While there are still non-religious people who contribute to society, Dr. Grim reiterated that religious people contribute more in bolstering economic activities, providing employment opportunities, and opening doors to help individuals become self-reliant.

The third and final plenary speaker, Prof. Rüdiger Lohlker who is a professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Vienna in Austria, discussed about the Rise of Populism and Conservatism: Increasing Vulnerabilities of Minorities.

In between the three plenary sessions, the IFLR conducted six breakout sessions with speakers touching on different topics.

In the first morning breakout session, Prof. Rüdiger Lohlker spoke about Migration Policies and Internal Displacement: Seeds for Violent Extremism? while Hon. Amina Rasul Bernardo, president of the Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy discussed about the topic From Ramadi to Marawi: Weakening of Communities’ Resiliency to Violent Extremism—A Failure of Law or Faith?

Meanwhile in the second morning breakout session, Atty. Cheryl L. Daytec-Yango, assistant secretary of the Department of Justice, talked about the Legal Pluralism in the Philippines. Atty. Nasser Marohomsalic, former commissioner of the Commission on Human Rights, discussed about the BBL: Balancing the Interests of the Non-Moro Minority and the Moro Majority. Atty. Neri Javier Colmenares, president of the National Union of People’s Lawyers talked about the Religious Intolerance or Compelling State Interest: The Case of Sister Patricia Fox.

In the third morning breakout session, Prof. Ma. Soledad D. Mawis, Dean of the College of Law of the Lyceum of the Philippines University touched points on the topic Proposed Divorce and Annulment Legislation in the Philippines. In the same third breakout session, Atty. Jeffrey Lon Adams, attorney-at-law in the State of California, USA, discussed about the Church Annulment of Marriages in the Philippines.

In the afternoon breakout sessions, Dr. Brian J. Grim, Ph.D., president of Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, talked about Religious Freedom and Business. Following Dr. Grim’s discussion, Atty. Jemy Gatdulay, a professor at the University of Asia and the Pacific discussed about The Persistence of Religion.

In the second afternoon breakout session, Hon. Maria Rowena Amelia V. Guanzon, commissioner of the Commission on Elections, gave a lecture on Enhancing Political Participation of Women from Minority Constituencies. Dir. Hannah Marquez, Mindanao State University, then discussed about the Exercise of Political Rights and Religious Freedom in the Academe, following Commissioner Guanzon. The last speaker of the second afternoon breakout session was Atty. Jo Aurea Imbong, a lecturer at the University of Asia and the Pacific, who led in the discussion on the Limitations to Freedom of Expression: Criminalizing Religious Insult.

Atty. Jeffrey Lon Adams, attorney-at-law from California, USA, talked about The Utah Compromise and LGBTQ Rights in the U.S. while Prof. Pablito Baybado, Jr., a professor at the University of Santo Tomas, discussed about and The SOGIE Equality Bill in the Philippines during the third afternoon breakout session.

The conduct of the 2018 International Forum on Law and Religion was to bring about knowledge and expertise from legal experts and scholars to help bridge the gap between secular and religion in order to create a cohesive society wherein everyone can enjoy equal rights as well as freedom of religion.

Academic Institutions and organizations that participated in the 2ndannual IFLR were the Lyceum of the Philippines University, University of Santo Tomas, University of Asia and the Pacific, Mindanao State University, University of Vienna, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, Legal Management of the Philippines, Philippine Bar Association, Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, UP Women Lawyers’ Circle, Center for Legislative Development, and the Legal Network for Truthful Elections. Moreover, government agencies such as the Commission on Human Rights Philippines, Department of Justice, National Commission on Muslim Filipino NCR and the Commission on Elections participated in the event. Furthermore, the Embassy of Austria in the Manila supported the IFLR.

Last year, the first International Forum on Law and Religion was held at the University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City. Over 250 participants were present at the event.

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