Robert F. Cochran Jr., Louis D. Brandeis Professor of Law and director of the Herbert and Elinor Nootbaar Institute on Law, Religion, and Ethics, participated in the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIF) conference on religious freedom on Oct. 7 in Juba, Sudan.
Cochran was invited by USCIRF to speak to a group of religious and government leaders of Southern Sudan about the American experience of religious freedom. This is particularly relevant to the region as Southern Sudan is scheduled to vote early next year on whether to become an independent country from Northern Sudan.
Cochran spoke on the U.S. Constitution and legal provisions for church-state relations. He was joined by USCIRF commissioners Reverend William Shaw, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Imam Talal Eid, of Boston, Massachusetts, during the panel presentation and the following question and answer session. Other speakers included Salva Kiir, president of the government of Southern Sudan, and Michael H. Posner, assistant secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor at the U.S. Department of State.
“I am hopeful that the experience of the United States might be of some benefit as Southern Sudan determines which direction to take,” says Cochran. “In my view, the idea of and framework for religious freedom is the greatest gift that the United States has given to the world.”
Cochran currently edits the Social Science Research Network's (SSRN's) "Law and Religion" ejournal and blogs at and moderates LawReligionEthics.net. He is the author or editor of eight books and more than 40 articles and book chapters, including Faith and Law: How Religious Traditions from Calvinism to Islam View American Law (NYU Press 2008).