News Release

Australian Religion Journalist Attends International Conference on Religious Freedom

Dr Rachael Kohn, pre-eminent ABC broadcaster on religious issues, was invited to present at the International Law and Religion Symposium held in October at the J. Reuben Clark Law School of Brigham Young University.

Click here to view Dr. Kohn's entire remarks.

Dr Kohn, speaking to more than 75 delegates representing 37 countries, addressed the symposium theme "Religious freedom in a Pluralistic Age: Trends, Challenges, and Practices". Her remarks included her assessment of Islam's place and influence in society and the resulting challenges.

Dr. Kohn is a long-standing ABC radio journalist working in the religion department of the organization. She presents "The Spirit of Things." A recent program entitled Religion in Malaysia stemmed from her interview with one of the ILRS guests. A second exposition emerged from the BYU conference and aired on 13, 15, and 16 November under the heading Religion Under Attack.

The International Law and Religion Symposium is now in its eighteenth year. Hosted by the BYU International Centre for Law and Religion Studies, the conference is devoted to the discussion of principles of religious liberty and ways of better implementing these principles in countries around the world.

The delegates work at the intersection of law, religion and academia and are invited to expound on the current situations in their nations.

To date, more than 850 key scholars, human rights workers, judges from constitutional and supreme courts, government ministers charged with handling religious affairs for their countries, and interested visitors have attended from 118 countries.

The three-day Symposium opened with an address by distinguished keynote speaker, Zakeria Mohammed Yacoob of the Constitutional Court of South Africa. Among this year's delegates were:

• Mariatu Bangura – Senior Executive, Gender and Children's Affairs, Ministry of Social Welfare, Sierra Leone;
• Justice Anthony Penrose Randerson – Justice, Court of Appeals, New Zealand;
• Eugenio Cedeño Areché – Deputy, National Congress, Chamber of Deputies, and President, Human Rights Commission, Dominican Republic;
• Jorge Horacio Gentile – Professor of Constitutional Law and Director, Universidad Católica Argentina; Argentine Council for Religious Liberty (CALIR).

Rachael Kohn addressed one of the conference plenary sessions. Born in Canada, she graduated with an MA and PhD in Religious Studies from McMaster University and was awarded the prestigious Leverhulme Postdoctoral Fellowship, which she took up at the University of Lancaster, England.

Before joining the ABC in 1992, she taught Religious Studies at Sydney University and in universities in England and Canada. Rachael has won three World Gold Medals from the New York Festivals International Radio Competition. She has produced documentaries for ABC TV's "Compass", including The Dead Sea Scrolls and Buddhism East and West.

The sessions concluded with remarks by ICLRS Director, Professor W. Cole Durham, Jr.

Dr Durham, a graduate of Harvard Law School, is currently the President of the International Consortium for Law and Religion Studies based in Milan, Italy, and a Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Oxford Journal of Law and Religion. The well-respected expert on religious legal issues plays an active role in advising governments throughout much of the former socialist bloc. He has helped organize technical assistance to law reform projects and comparative law conferences in countries around the world.

Read more at 2011 Internation Law and Religion Seminar Conference.



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