News Release

Leaders Come Together for Law and Religion Conference

The Second Conference on Law and Religion in Africa took place at Stellenbosch University, South Africa, on May 26-28, 2014. Some 60 scholars, legal professionals, and religious leaders from 15 countries participated in the meetings.

The purpose of the conference was to expand and disseminate knowledge and expertise regarding the relationships between law and religion and to contribute to legal reforms and religious freedom in Africa and throughout the world.

Among other organizations, this year’s annual conference was co-sponsored by Stellenbosch University and the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at the J. Reuben Clark Law School, which is part of Brigham Young University in Utah, United States. BYU is a private institution owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; it is the largest religious university and third-largest private university in the United States. 

Focusing on the theme “Law and Religion in Africa – The Quest for the Common Good in Pluralistic Societies,” distinguished presenters, including two educators from Ghana, addressed many topics of interest.

Kofi Quashigah, the Dean of Faculty of Law at the University of Ghana, presented a paper on “State Sanctioned Religious Discrimination in Africa.”

The head of the Department for the Study of Religions at the University of Ghana, Abanfo Ofari Atiemo, gave a presentation entitled “Religion and Customs are not the Same – Sacred Traditional States and Religious Human Rights in Contemporary Ghana.”

Elder LeGrand R. Curtis Jr., a senior leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in West Africa, took part in a religious leader’s panel, which included representatives of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, African Traditional and African Independent churches.

Stating the strong position of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in favor of freedom of religion and tolerance, Elder Curtis quoted Joseph Smith, the founder of the Church, who stated the following:

“The Saints can testify whether I am willing to lay down my life for my brethren.  If it has been demonstrated that I have been willing to die for a Mormon, I am bold to declare before Heaven that I am just as ready to die in defending the rights of a Presbyterian, a Baptist, or a good man of any other denomination; for the same principle which would trample upon the rights of the Latter-day Saints would trample upon the rights of the Roman Catholics, or of any other denomination who may be unpopular and too weak to defend themselves.  It is a love of liberty which inspires my soul – civil and religious liberty to the whole of the human race (History of the Church 5:498).”

Keynote speaker, the Honorable Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng of South Africa’s highest court, said infusing law with religion could help turn around crime, corruption, maladministration, lackadaisical effort by government functionaries, dishonesty and injustice.

Emphasizing the importance of morality, Judge Mogoeng Mogoeng said that “law and religion can help shape a peaceful and prosperous society.”


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