ICLARS - N° 2  October 2017
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Two Law and Religion Panels at the European Academy of Religion (Bologna, 5-7 March 2018)
Upcoming Conferences Around the World

Observing rapid transformations in Indian society, the Scottish writer William Dalrymple asks:

“What does it actually mean to be a holy man or a Jain nun, a mystic or a tantric seeking salvation on the roads of modern India, as the Tata trucks thunder past? Why does one individual embrace armed resistance as a sacred calling, while another devoutly practices ahimsa, or non-violence? Why does one think he can create a god, while another thinks that god can inhabit him? How is each specific religious path surviving the changes India is currently undergoing? What changes and what remains the same? Does India still offer any sort of real spiritual alternative to materialism, or is it now just another fast developing satrap of the wider capitalist world?”
(W. Dalrymple, Nine Lives: In Search of the Sacred in Modern India, 2011)

This degree of diversity might not be the rule in all parts of the world, but it is quite evident that not only did religion not disappear in the 21st century as predicted, now there is even more religious diversity than in the past. Or, at least, we are more aware of the diversity.

The current dynamic often places religious diversity as a threat to a peaceful coexistence. It seems evident that efforts should be made to develop successful legal strategies to address such matters, and learn from them. New approaches that have a historical background, as well as local context, affect the path already initiated by granting freedom of religion or belief through national and international norms. In some places, case law has created concepts such as vivre ensemble (living together), which is country-specific. Sometimes less legislation and no judicial decisions increase collaborative initiatives that provide diversity in a sort of spontaneous experience. In addition, various kinds of agreements promote cooperation between the government and religious organizations.

Sometimes diversity is taken for granted or deliberately disregarded. It can be tempting not to make an issue of it, trying to keep hidden all sorts of differences. In this way everyone pretends that there is no diversity or, at least some existing variants remain at a kind of cultural level without being addressed as social elements. However, this sort of attitude has resulted in historical situations where military conflicts, migration, and other issues have arisen without an understanding of underlying factors that could help in knowing how to deal with the problems. Religion becomes an ambivalent, contributing factor, a threat to instead cohesion, instead of something that can help members of diverse societies live together. In other contexts, societal divisions in societies are presented as irreversible constructs that affect even family structures through, for example, denying the possibility of mixed religious marriages, or job opportunities, or even the citizenship status. In some jurisdictions transitions from a majority religious domination towards flourishing of minority beliefs has become a peaceful process. In such an inclusive societies religion is not part of the problem.

The International Consortium for Law and Religion Studies (ICLARS) is a scholarly platform where more than 300 experts from almost 70 countries engage in dialogue about such issues. The Fifth ICLARS Conference (to be held Sept. 12-14, 2018) will explore focus on such topics as majorities and minorities; private and public life; religious freedom; and approaches at structural and institutional levels. In each of topics there are challenges to discuss, and the Fifth Conference will be an excellent place to promote an academic exchange highlighting strategies – either inclusive or restrictive – that come from Law and Religion studies.

Brazil will be an excellent venue for this conference. “Living together” is part of daily life in this country with a population of almost 200.000.000 inhabitants. Brazil’s demographics include ethnic groups with indigenous and tribal beliefs, migrants from Europe and other places with all sorts of faiths, as well as nonbelievers – all sharing a place in society. This setting will help us listen to each other, as legal, cultural, and religious backgrounds inspire the discussion. This type of exchange is a part of the core of ICLARS.

Moreover, this conference will give us the opportunity to celebrate the 70th birthdays and pay tributes to professors Cole Durham and Silvio Ferrari, Founders and Past Presidents of ICLARS, acknowledging their lifetime contribution to the study of Law and Religion. 

Please read the Save the Date letter, Concept Paper and Call for Papers at and don't miss the chance to participate in this next ICLARS Conference. You can also visit our new blog site where all communications are going to be updated:

Professor Ana María Celis
Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
L'affiliation religieuse en Europe
Coercion and Responsibility in Islam. A Study in Ethics and Law
Social Compass


The Future of Freedom of Religion: International Perspectives

Religious liberty has found expression in various ways over time and across continents. It is now seen as an essential component of the inalienable birthright of citizens of the world, both in its individual and collective forms. In the second half of the last century, and the first decades of the present century, frequent recourse has been had to freedom of religion in socio-political terms on national, regional and global levels. The focus for this panel, however, will not be on the achievements of history but the challenges for the future. A distinguished array of speakers will seek to address the direction and speed of travel for freedom of religion from their individual perspectives.

The panel will include:  Mark Hill (Cardiff University); Javier Martínez Torrón (Universidad Complutense de Madrid); Juan Navarro Floria (Pontificia Universidad Católica Buenos Aires); Brett Scharffs (Brigham Young University); Francoise Tulkens (Human Rights Advisory Panel of the United Nations Mission in Kosovo – former Vice-President of the ECHR: to be confirmed)

With particular reference to the defining issues in their particular part of the world, the contributions will be incisive, reflective and, perhaps also, prophetic.


International Moot Court Competition
An International Moot Court competition in Law & Religion is being organized (from March 6 to March 7 2018) in collaboration with the International Consortium for Law & Religion Studies and International Center for Law & Religion Studies.

Teams from within and outside Europe will argue a case before either/both the European Court of Human Rights and the Supreme Court of the United States. Pre-eminent scholars and actual judges from both jurisdictions will sit as judges of the two Courts.


The Impact of Religion Challenges for Society, Law and Democracy
Uppsala University, (Sweden) April 24-26th 2018

The Impact of Religion conference offers an interdisciplinary forum for sharing recent research on the role of religion in both the public and the private sphere – locally, nationally and internationally. We expect contributions from lawyers, human rights experts, social scientists, specialists in social policy, health and welfare, philosophers and scientists, as well as those engaged directly in theology and religious studies.


Law, Religion, and Human Flourishing,  Abuja (Nigeria), May 20-22nd 2018 -  African Consortium for Law and Religious Studies

The conference will focus on this topic by exploring the relationship between religious ideas and sustainable conceptions of human flourishing in Africa.


Religious pluralism and social diversity: religions in the European public space, Nantes (France), October 3-5th October 2018- IPRA-Alliance Europa

This conference will explore some of the ways in which cultural and religious pluralism has always been a central element of European society and how it continues to be so today.

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Newsletter editor: Cristiana Cianitto.

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