The International Center for Law and Religion Studies will host the Religious Freedom Annual Review from June 20 to 21 on the BYU campus. This year’s conference will explore the theme of religious freedom and the common good.
“All are invited to attend the Religious Freedom Annual Review,” said Taylor Shaw, member of the International Law and Religion Symposium Executive Committee at the J. Reuben Clark Law School. “While many who come have a background in media, legal or religious fields, all are welcome and can benefit from the conference.”
The conference offers BYU-Idaho students an opportunity to develop their skills as disciple-leaders and prepare to become representatives of good in their future communities and career fields.
“Students who attend can expect to gain insight into the ever-changing world of religious freedom,” Shaw said. “They can gain the skills of logical analysis and reasoning as well as effective communication about religious freedom topics.”
Students can gain a greater understanding of these topics as they participate in workshops, listen to experts and network with other participants.
“Attendees will hear media, legal and religious leaders from around the country speak on topics such as why religious freedom matters, how we can find common ground with LGBTQ rights, religious freedom in the media, and how to be a leader in promoting religious freedom in your community,” according to the conference’s official website.
This year’s conference will feature speakers from diverse backgrounds. Dr. Ossama Bahloul, former Imam of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, will discuss religious freedom issues within the Muslim community. Rev. Eugene Rivers III, activist and political advisor, will discuss faith-based initiatives. Neill F. Marriott, former member of the Young Women General Presidency, will discuss how to promote religious freedom close to home.
Casey Ann Hurley, professor of the Issues in Social Sciences: Religious Freedom course at BYU-I, said students should make religious freedom a priority.
“One of the most obvious reasons is that our prophets have been continually calling on us to get more educated about religious freedom,” Hurley said. “From a more practical standpoint, it matters to us as members of the Church in our ability to practice our own religion.”
Hurley said students should protect all people’s agency by promoting the freedoms of other religious communities as well.
“Around 70 percent of people in this world live in countries that have very little religious freedom,” Hurley said. “The doctrine of agency tells us that, that’s not acceptable, that in order for people to accept and live the gospel, they have to have the agency to do it.”
Hurley said students can become leaders of religious freedom by taking advantage of all the opportunities available to them.
“The first thing they should do is get informed,” Hurley said. “The conference in Provo is outstanding. It’s one of the best conferences I’ve been to.”
Shaw said the first step in promoting religious freedom is becoming informed.
“Promoting religious freedom in your future careers can be as easy as educating yourself about the various issues facing religious freedoms and sharing that knowledge with others,” said Shaw.
Hurley said students do not need to wait to become leaders. They can begin advocating for religious freedom in the BYU-I community by raising awareness of local issues and reaching out to community members who need support.
“Pay attention to what’s going on in your community,” Hurley said. “Connect with people of other religious groups. Be active on social media, defending religion and religious freedom.”
The conference offers a discount to students, reducing registration to $20. Visit religiousfreedom.byu.edu for more information.