By Kelsey Flores and Cate Grantham
Earlier this month, eighteen fellows took planes, Lyfts, and public transit into Washington D.C. for the Fifth Annual JRCLS Religious Liberty Fellowship.
The schedule was busy with programming and activities. Fellows learned from the nation’s top religious liberty experts, soared across D.C. on the Museum of the Bible’s exciting new virtual ride, and explored the National Mall. One of the key features of the fellowship is for the creation and planning of workshops designed to bolster religious liberty in their local communities.
Let’s take a look at what the fellows have planned.
One of these plans promises to honor Hawaiian sacred sites and symbols—championed by our youngest three fellows from BYU-Hawaii, John Zenger, Gavin Cranney, and Valerie Agustin. Details of their plan include labeling totem poles with plaques explaining their religious significance and lobbying for natives’ access to sacred sites for worship.
Back on the mainland, multiple fellows hope to use media channels to promote religious freedom. Maren Cline, Associate, and Anna Hubbard, BYU Law ’24, plan to start podcasts about religious liberty. McKell McIntyre, BYU Law ’24, proposed an Instagram campaign showcasing interfaith stories. University of Chicago Law School 2L, Benjamin Ogilvie, plans to write an op-ed (geared to a general audience) breaking down the recent Supreme Court religious freedom cases, especially the COVID-era cases.
Legal scholarship will have the fingerprints of multiple fellows. For example, fellows plan to publish on an originalist view of church closure mandates, (Joseph Kline, Harvard Law ’25), Native American sacred site cases (Nate Bartholomew, Harvard Law ‘24), and the impact of affirmative action cases for universities and religious applicants (Zach Weaver, Harvard Law ’25). Jamie Zirker, New England Law-Boston ’24, plans to revise her law review article on the one-year anniversary of the Respect for Marriage Act and host an event on the RMA at her law school alongside other affinity groups at her university.
Outside of scholarship, fellows hope to leave a lasting effect on their law schools, too. For example, Kristen Clarke, UNLV Boyd School of Law ’25, with a budding chapter of JRCLS plans to host an end-of-year event with an interfaith panel of local attorneys. She also hopes to recruit students of different faiths to serve on the executive board of her school’s JRCLS chapter. University of Wyoming College of Law 2L, Warren Wood, has a number of proposals for his school including an interfaith mural, prayer and meditation space, or a JRCLS clothing and food drive for the homeless in Wyoming.
In Utah, Jorden Truman, BYU Law ’24, will host an interfaith walk between two churches in Provo. And, speaking of interfaith opportunities, Josh Buckner, BYU Law ’24, looks forward to creating a newsletter to spread awareness of ongoing interfaith events and activities.
Across the country, Reece Barker, Judicial Law Clerk, is excited to share the history of religious liberty in Delaware in local newspapers and in presentations to the Delaware State Bar. And in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Groff v. DeJoy, Miranda Cherkas Sherill, Associate, plans to inform and educate employees on their rights to observe their holy days without working.
Beyond their actions plans, fellows left downtown D.C. with new friends, mentors, and insights regarding religion in the workplace, higher education, and church organizations. Fellows heard from religious liberty experts, litigation clients, political advocates, and church leaders including:
- Robert Snyder, Chair, JRCLS Religious Freedom Committee; Attorney, Kirton McConkie
- Steve Collis, University of Texas at Austin School of Law, Bech-Loughlin First Amendment Center
- Kayla Toney, Associate Counsel, First Liberty Institute
- Ben Fleshman, Counsel, Becket
- Jennie Lichter, Deputy General Counsel, Catholic University of America
- Paul Lambert, Director, Wheatley Institute Religion Initiative
- Josh McDaniel, Director, Harvard Law School Religious Freedom Clinic
- Tim Schultz, President, First Amendment Partnership
- Tyler Deaton, President, Allegiance Strategies
- Bridger Jensen, Founder, Singularism
- Faiyaz Hussain, Senior Advisor for Strategy, Policy, and Programs, Muslim Public Affairs Council
- David Colton, Past Chair, International Advisory Council, International Center for Law and Religion Studies
The Fellowship aims to prepare law students and recent law graduates to strengthen religious freedom in their communities. For more information about the Fellowship, please email email@example.com.
This meaningful Fellowship is made possible by the Fellowship’s 2023 committee members:
- Annika Boone Barkdull, Attorney, Schaerr Jaffe
- Tanner Bean, Attorney, Fabian VanCott
- Cate Grantham, Chief Legal Officer, Shout
- Matt McGhie, Counsel, U.S. Senate
- Kelsey Flores, Judicial Law Clerk; Former Clinical Instructor of Harvard Law School Religious Freedom Clinic
- Anna Bryner, J. Reuben Clark Law School, Brigham Young University ‘24
and by the Fellowship’s supporters, including the J. Reuben Clark Law Society and the Bech-Loughlin First Amendment Center at the University of Texas at Austin School of Law. If you are interested in supporting the Fellowship, please reach out to our committee at firstname.lastname@example.org.