Event Tonight: Religious Liberty and the Supreme Court

Just a reminder that the Center will host a panel discussion in midtown Manhattan tonight on religious liberty at the US Supreme Court. The discussants will be myself and Judge Richard Sullivan of the Southern District of New York. Details and RSVP info are here. CLR Forum readers, please stop by and say hello!

Conference: “ISIS, War and the Threat to Cultural Heritage in Iraq and Syria” (New York)

The International Foundation for Art Research will host a panel next month at the Scandinavia House in Manhattan on ISIS’ destruction of art and monuments in Syria and Iraq:

We have seen the disturbing and often horrific images emanating from the battle-torn regions of Iraq and Syria and heard the news of damage to monuments and archaeological sites and the looting of cultural objects in this ancient and archaeologically important region. But the news is rapidly changing and often conflicting, and the timing and substance of some of the stories appear to have been manipulated by ISIS. What is happening to the art and monuments of the region? What has been safe-guarded? What has been destroyed?  What is most at-risk, whether of destruction or looting? Where are the looted objects going? Are they coming into the United States?

Please join IFAR’s specialists, several of whom have on-site experience and knowledge, for a fascinating and topical discussion of these and other issues.

Note: Q& A and Informal Reception Follow the Talks

The event will take place in Manhattan on August 11. Details are here.

Panel: “Religious Exemptions After Hobby Lobby: Where Do We Go From Here?” (New York, May 14)

The New York City Bar will host a panel discussion, “Religious Exemptions After Hobby Lobby: Where Do We Go From Here?” on Thursday, May 14, 2015.

This panel presentation will review the legal and policy implications of the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision in the areas of religious accommodations generally, reproductive rights, health care, and employment law.

The event will run from about 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM, and attendance is free. Visit here to register.

Panel: “Pope Francis and the Vocation of the Lawyer” (April 29)

On Wednesday, April 29, 2015, from 6:30–8:30 p.m., Fordham Law School’s Institute on Religion, Law, and Lawyer’s Work will host a panel discussion on “Pope Francis and the Vocation of the Lawyer.” CLR Advisory Board member Judge Richard Sullivan will be among the panelists:

Pope Francis has spoken about the obligation of those whose work involves the law, administration of justice, and the setting of public policy.

He recently mentioned, at a meeting with Filipino authorities, “…the challenge of building on solid foundations a modern society—a society respectful of authentic human values, protective of our God-given human dignity and rights, and ready to confront new and complex political and ethical questions.”

And on a letter to the participants of the 19th International Conference of the International Association of Penal Law, he wrote: “… the Church recommends a justice that is humanizing, genuinely reconciling,… that leads the offenders, though an educational way and through inspiring penance, to complete their rehabilitation and reintegration into the community.”

This panel will explore how Pope Francis and the Catholic Social Teachings of the Church impact the practice of law and the lives of lawyers.

Register here.

Discussion on “The Gathering Storm: Religious Persecution and Legislative Responses” (Georgetown University, April 15)

On April 15, the Religious Freedom Project, in cooperation with Baylor University’s Institute for Studies of Religion, will host a discussion “The Gathering Storm: Religious Persecution and Legislative Responses:”

Two of the most prominent advocates for advancing religious freedom in foreign policy, Baroness Elizabeth Berridge and former Congressman Frank Wolf, will discuss how Western democracies can advance international religious freedom. They will also explore how internal disarray over the meaning and reach of religious liberty affects the ability of nations to advance religious freedom in their foreign policies. The Berkley Center’s Tom Farr will moderate.

Find more information and RSVP here.

St. John’s Hosts Panel on Mideast Christians

L-R: Michael LaCivita, Mark Wasef, MLM

This past Wednesday, the Center for Law and Religion co-sponsored a panel, “Threat to Justice: Middle Eastern Christians and the ISIS Crisis,” at the St. John’s Law School campus in Queens. The Catholic Law Students Association, and, especially, this year’s energetic president, Eugene Ubawike ’15, took the lead in organizing the event, which was also endorsed by the Law School’s Center for International and Comparative Law. I served as moderator.

Eugene introduced the panel by referring to the martyrdom of 21 Coptic Christians at the hands of ISIS operatives in Libya last weekend. The martyrdom of Christians is not something one reads about only in history books, he said–persecution is happening right now. In my introduction, I followed up on Eugene’s comments by reminding the audience of what Pope Francis said at our conference in Rome this past summer: there are more Christian martyrs today than in the first centuries of the Church, since before the time of Constantine, 1700 years ago.

Michael LaCivita, the Chief Communications Officer of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, explained the mission of his organization and helpfully situated the discussion by giving a brief history of the Christians of the Middle East. Mark Wasef, an attorney and member of the board of United for a New Egypt, provided an overview of the situation Christians face in contemporary Egypt. He spoke movingly of the troubles Copts have faced in recent years, but also of the possibility of peaceful relations between Christians and Muslims, and his hopes for the future. A robust question and answer session touched on topics like the dhimma, the promise of the Sisi government in Egypt, Mideast Christians in American politics, and the legacy of the Crusades.

This is not the first panel on Mideast Christians that CLR has sponsored at the Law School, and, as at the event we sponsored in October 2010, turnout on Wednesday night was encouraging, a sign that the Law School community takes this issue seriously. Congratulations to Eugene and the Catholic Law Students Association for an important event in the life of St. John’s, and many thanks to our panelists.

Panel: “Threat to Justice: Middle Eastern Christians and the ISIS Crisis” (St. John’s, Feb. 18)

On February 18 at 5 p.m., CLR will co-host a panel, along with the St. John’s Catholic Law Students Association, on a very timely topic: “Threat to Justice: Middle Eastern Christians and the ISIS Crisis.”

The discussion will be moderated by CLR Director Mark Movsesian. Speakers will include Michael LaCivita (Catholic Near East Welfare Association), Edward Clancy (Aid to the Church in Need), and Mark Wasef (United for a New Egpyt).

For more information, please click here.

Panel on USCIRF Report this Friday

This Friday, June 27, the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington will host a panel on the 2014 Annual Report of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom:

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) recently released its 2014 Annual Report, entitled 15th Anniversary Retrospective: Renewing the Commitment. USCIRF is an independent U.S. government advisory body that monitors religious freedom worldwide and makes policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and the Congress. The report examines the past decade and a half of U.S. foreign policy as it relates to religious freedom promotion and provides recommendations for how the United States can more effectively advance this right in the 21st century. In addition, the report highlights the situation of religious freedom globally and identifies governments who are the most egregious violators.

Details are here.

Panel: The Coptic Question (April 10)

Fordham’s Institute on Religion, Law & Lawyer’s Work will host a panel discussion, “The Coptic Question: Protecting Minorities During Periods of Upheaval,” in New York on April 10:

Coptic Christians, who make up more than 10% of the Egyptian population, were partners with their Muslim fellow citizens in Tahrir Square and Arab Spring. However, since 2011, scores of Coptic churches, monasteries, shops, schools, clubs and orphanages had been plundered and burned, and over the past year more than 100,000 Christians have fled Egypt with their families, leaving everything they know behind.

This program will explore the experience of the Coptic Christians as religious minority in Egypt and consider the potential for protecting Christian minorities in majority Muslim countries.

Details are here.

Panel on International Religious Freedom in Washington (Feb 25)

The Berkley Center at Georgetown will host a panel discussion tomorrow, “Is International Religious Freedom Policy Becoming Respectable?”:

Some fifteen years after the establishment of the US Office of International Religious Freedom and the position of US ambassador at large (currently vacant), the government of Canada has become the first country to follow suit. In 2012, the Canadian government under Prime Minister Stephen Harper created the Office of Religious Freedom in Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development and in February 2013 appointed its first ambassador, Andrew Bennett. Meanwhile, a (sometimes controversial) mainstay of the US international religious freedom policy is the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, whose job is to sharpen and improve the policy implemented by the State Department. To what extent has the commission been successful? Can the American experience of success and failure help inform Canada’s new policy? What can the United States learn from its neighbor to the north?
Andrew Bennett, Canadian ambassador for religious freedom, and Katrina Lantos Swett, vice chair of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom will examine these questions. They will also discuss whether the two North American democracies encourage others to increase attention to international religious freedom. Join us as we discuss and debate these and other questions on February 25. Tom Farr, director of the Religious Freedom Project, will moderate.
For details, please click here.
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