Religious Freedom Annual Review to focus on rising generation

Attendees chat at the 2023 Religious Freedom Annual Review. The review began in 2014 and has featured speakers and panels from across the world. (Brad Slade)

The Religious Freedom Annual Review will be held by the International Center for Law and Religion Studies on Thursday, June 20 on BYU campus. The review will feature new sessions meant to help members of the rising generation “explore peacemaking through religious pluralism and freedom,” according to the ICLRS website.

The annual review first began in 2014, according to the ICLRS website. The rising generation track, new this year for people ages 18 to 35, is in conjunction with the new Rising Generation Initiative meant to involve more young adults in solving religious freedom challenges, Rising Generation Fellow Anna Bryner said.

“There’s often a perception that religious freedom is this legal issue or just for lawyers or something and we want to show no, it’s really relevant for everybody, including young adults,” Bryner said.

Breakout sessions as part of the event will include presentations and panels from legal professionals, religious scholars and public speakers from churches and religious freedom institutions across the United States and at BYU, according to the ICLRS website.

“The Center for Law and Religious Studies is at the law school, so we’re lawyers,” Elizabeth Clark, associate director or ICLRS, said. “But we recognize issues affecting religious freedom aren’t just legal; they’re cultural and social.”

Clark had helped to plan the event and will be moderating a discussion. The theme of the annual review is peacemaking, and sessions are meant to teach people about practical peacemaking and the role of religion in public life, she said.

“Our goal is to help bring enough information and examples and people who are engaged in these issues that those who come can feel more confidence in speaking on these issues,” Clark said.

Panels will include topics such as business, religious pluralism, peacemaking and civility. One session, titled “Faith, Hope, and Love,” will involve a dialogue with BYU students and doctoral students from Fuller Theological Seminary.

“I want people to take away from the conference that it’s okay if people don’t agree with you,” Greta Bennett, one of the Fuller Seminary doctoral students, said. “It’s okay if you don’t always see eye to eye, but then you still walk in love, being true to who God has called you to be.”

Online registration for the annual review is currently available on the ICLRS website. Registration for high school and college students, as well as BYU faculty and staff, is free.

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