Law, Religion, and Coronavirus in the United States: A Six-Month Assessment

October 1, 2020

On Friday, October 2, 2020, the International Center for Law and Religion Studies (ICLRS) at Brigham Young University (BYU) Law School will hold a virtual event titled, “Law, Religion, and Coronavirus in the United States: A Six-Month Assessment.” Brett G. Scharffs, member of the Religious Freedom Institute’s Board of Advisors, is among of the event’s moderators. Three scholars with RFI’s Freedom of Religious Institutions in Society Project will be presenting: Kathleen Brady, Emory University School of Law; Cole Durham, Founding Director of ICLRS, BYU Law School; and Paul Marshall, Institute for Studies of Religion, Baylor University.

Professor Brady will speak to the constitutional implications of COVID-19 restrictions on religious services, to include circumstances in which similarly situated non-religious gatherings have been subjected to lower restrictions. Her remarks will also draw from an article she authored for Cornerstone Forum titled, “Demands to Treat Churches and Casinos Equally May Be Asking Too Much and Not Enough.” Professor Durham will address the intersection of coronavirus responses, compelling state interests in the area of public health, and the autonomy of religious institutions. Professor Marshall will comment on government restrictions on religious gatherings by exploring a long-standing Christian notion that religious bodies and governments are not sealed off entirely from one another, but rather have distinctive authorities that provide grounds, in limited circumstances, for entering into the other’s domain in particular ways.

Sponsoring this event with ICLRS are: the Center for the Study of Law and Religion, Emory University Law School; Notre Dame Program on Church, State & Society, Notre Dame Law School; Center for Law and Religion, St. Johns University School of Law; and Eleanor H. McCullen Center for Law, Religion and Public Policy, Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law.


Note: Canopy Forum on the Interactions of Law and Religion, a digital publication of the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University, subsequently published the essays and video from this virtual conference.