Why Religiously Affiliated Law Schools Should be Deeply and Proactively Engaged with the #BlackLivesMatter Movement

The following blog post is written by CGJ student staff member Courtney Marasigan, who attended Regent Law's recent RALS Conference.

On September 30, 2016, Regent Law faculty hosted the biennial Conference of Religiously Affiliated Law Schools. As a student, it was a privilege to attend and hear professors grapple with contentious topics from a religious perspective. I found Dean Robert Vischer’s talk most enthralling. Dean Vischer, of St. Thomas University, presented about “Institutional Engagement & Institutional Mission – Why Religiously Affiliated Law Schools Should be Deeply and Proactively Engaged with the #BlackLivesMatter Movement” as part of the Pursuing Global Justice panel.

Dean Robert Vischer

He asserted that religiously affiliated law schools are best equipped—due to our theology and moral formation—to address the ongoing protests and racial unrest plaguing the nation. As powerful as this notion is, his responses during the Q&A following his presentation struck me even more. One attendee asked Dean Vischer how to handle conversations discussing racial injustice when the other person in the conversation brings up high profile cases that, based on a strictly rational view of the facts in that case alone, may not be legitimate.

Dean Vischer began his response by appealing to the tendency of our legal minds to jump to rational analyses in any given situation. It is true that it might not make sense to talk about individual landmark cases juxtaposed to smaller cases with completely different sets of facts. However, Dean Vischer reminded us that these events and the Black Lives Matter movement as a whole have a deeper, emotional level to them that surpasses mere reason. Thus, Dean Vischer exhorted attendees to remember that a person’s response to these events is not just about the events themselves. Instead, there’s a much “longer, broader, messier history” at play that underlies the Black Lives Matter movement that a large portion of America simply does not want to acknowledge or deal with.

In order to become involved in the movement, Dean Vischer explained that a 10,000-foot view cannot be our primary experience. Instead, we must make deliberate decisions to step outside of our comfort zones, “and stay out.” Even if we choose not to attend protests, we can simply reach out and listen to an individual’s story to better appreciate the underlying frustrations underlying the entire movement. Moreover, being cognizant of our rational tendencies will facilitate our ability to empathize on a one-on-one basis.

I am grateful that Dean Vischer tackled this topic and shared his personal experiences with us. If we, as one human race, are to affect any social change, we must first work to understand each other.

This post was written by a Center for Global Justice student staff member.  The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect those of Regent University, Regent Law School, or the Center for Global Justice. 


Banjul Report 2

Yesterday was the second day of the NGO Forum associated with the meeting of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights.  After some panel presentations in the morning, in the afternoon we broke into small working groups and were tasked with discussing specific types of human rights challenges and then presenting recommendations to the group (200 or so) as a whole.

I served as the presenter for the group on Prisons and Conditions of Detention in Africa. In our group were human rights defenders from Mozambique, The Gambia, Sudan, Mauritania, Guinea, Uganda, and Malawi. We began by discussing current challenges faced by one or more of these nations, of which there were many. These are just some examples: detention without cause; the mixing of men, women, and children in the general prison population; torture by prison authorities or other inmates; and poor sanitation and health conditions.

It was encouraging to hear, though, that some of these nations are making progress with their prison systems as well. Some are providing life skills training for inmates so that they can more easily integrate back into society after they serve their sentence. Others are being more intentional to allow inmates to see and interact with family members. Uganda is taking concrete steps to speed up the processing of cases and to shorten pre-trial detention for inmates (especially children). For example, Uganda now allows paralegals to assist minors with bail hearings and makes greater use of plea bargaining for minor offenses.

I was particularly encouraged about developments to reduce the length of pre-trial detention in Uganda, because Regent Center for Global Justice students and faithful partners (like Uganda Director of Public Prosecution Mike Chibita and Pepperdine Professor Jim Gash) have worked on this issue for many years. It is really a joy to see the Center's work bear fruit in concrete ways!


Report from Banjul

"The human rights situation is bleak on the African continent." Refugees from the civil war in South Sudan are "not living lives worthy of human beings." "Blood is flowing on our continent." These were some of the stark words spoken by African human rights advocates on day one of the NGO Forum associated with the meeting of the African Commission on Human and People's Rights.

I am in Banjul, The Gambia, participating in the NGO Forum and Commission meeting this week on behalf of Regent's Center for Global Justice, Human Rights, and the Rule of Law. Today produced an extreme range of emotions. On one hand, the reports of African human rights non-governmental organizations were indeed bleak. From corruption and the violent repression of political opposition to abuse of women and children, including forced marriages to little eleven year-old girls, the day confirmed that the forces of darkness are alive and well. On the other hand, it was a joy to get to know men and women who have dedicated themselves to protecting the lives and dignity of all human beings that we know come from God.

I am here to be an encouragement to these men and women and to see whether and how the Center for Global Justice and our students might grow our impact in Africa. Please pray for wisdom and divine appointments.

Jeffrey A. Brauch
Professor, Regent University School of Law
Executive Director, Center for Global Justice, Human Rights, and the Rule of Law


Helping Survivors Discover a Future by Doing Something Tangible

In the midst of global sexual trafficking, assault, and abuse, Regent University undergraduate students gathered Wednesday, Oct. 5 to give a gift of kindness and hope. For a third year, they partnered with Fear 2 Freedom, an organization that provides supplies and encouragement to sexual assault victims who seek treatment in a hospital.

"It's definitely important that people get involved, especially to spread awareness about this," said Daniel Powers '19 (College of Arts & Sciences).

Powers was one of dozens of Regent students who gathered in the library atrium to learn about the growing problem of sex trafficking around the world and sexual abuse that happens all too often in the local community.

"Some of the statistics were really surprising, just to hear four years old is the average age for male sexual abuse, which is crazy," said Powers.

While the statistics are shocking, so is the fact of what happens to survivors once they're released from the hospital.

"In our hospitals, they are walking out in paper scrubs, which just broke my heart,"' said Rosemary Trible, Fear 2 Freedom founder.

Trible didn't allow her own experience of sexual assault to keep her living in fear. Instead, she found freedom by starting Fear 2 Freedom, and using her story to raise awareness and encourage others to do something tangible to move survivors from a trap of fear to a place of freedom. Regent students helped assemble kits with sweatpants, underwear, toiletries, notes of encouragement, and a stuffed bear for survivors.

"The bear is a very important part of our comforting tool for this," said Trible. "The forensic nurse, or one of the partners would say, 'He's got some little papers. Take out one and write the name of who's hurt you, or stick figure, if you're a child, and you open up the heart of the bear, and you put that little piece of paper in the bear. As you get a little stronger, you take it out and you put it in water. It's dissolving paper, so at first, the words disappear, and then the whole paper disappears, and it's just a little symbol that they don't have to be stuck as a victim."

Once the kits leave Regent, they will go to Samaritan House, More to Life, and Destiny's Rescue, all organizations that rescue sex trafficking or assault survivors. Within the past three years, the organization has partnered with 18 universities to prepare and distribute 13,000 kits. Trible says she's seen the success of the program, recalling a family of five children under the age of 13 who were able to leave a hospital with clothing and care after a forensic exam.

"They got foster homes for all of those children, one home that took all five. As they walked out, the littlest one was only two, and she had her backpack on with a little bear sticking out of it. They said, 'All you could see was the little bear and her feet walking out', and that image has inspired me more than anything to believe that we can help them truly believe there's a future without this abuse in their lives," said Trible.

Regent students also learned more about how they can get involved with other organizations that fight sex trafficking, care for victims, and raise awareness.

By Brennan Smith


In The Right Place at The Right Time

The following blog post is from CGJ Natasha Delille, who interned this past summer with Gardner & Mendoza, PC on immigration and protection of children.

This summer, a classmate approached me in the library to ask whether Gardner & Mendoza would consider taking on an asylum case pro-bono. The case involved a Christian convert who feared returning to his home country which has apostasy laws. After preparing research and collecting evidence, I was able to successfully pitch the case to the firm’s Immigration partner. Could it be possible that this case is the reason I had to stay and intern in Virginia Beach as opposed to another country this summer?

Click here to view all of Natasha's previous internships >

Natasha with Attorney Mendoza

This post was written by a Center for Global Justice student staff member.  The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect those of Regent University, Regent Law School, or the Center for Global Justice.


Student Staff Projects for Fall 2016

To provide Regent Law students with practical experience in the legal protection of human rights, students volunteer with the center each semester for a minimum of 5 hours/week. Here is an overview of the projects that our student staff members are working on this semester:

IJM Uganda: International Justice Mission Uganda fights land grabbing, a terrible problem that affects thousands of widows and orphans in Uganda. In order to aid IJM's work, the Center is expanding a legal memo it drafted last semester on the legal doctrine of res judicata. The Center's memo will help IJM decide the best legal strategy to bring civil suits on behalf of widows whose land was stolen.

Kyampisi Childcare Ministries: KCM is a nonprofit organization in Uganda that fights child sacrifice. In order to aid KCM in its work of monitoring child sacrifice cases, as well as aid prosecutors, the Center is putting together a legal manual that outlines the steps involved in a child sacrifice case, applicable charges for the defendant, and various legal issues that will have to be addressed to have a successful prosecution.

Handong: The Center works in partnership with Handong International Law School to advance the rule of law and expand religious freedom in Mongolia.  This semester, the Center is drafting a legal memorandum relating to the implementation of homeschooling in Mongolia.

Shared Hope: Every semester the Center supports Shared Hope with the Protected Innocence Challenge (PIC).  The PIC is a 50-state survey designed to improve the laws of all 50 states as they relate to the sex trafficking of children. This semester, the Center is analyzing whether each state has vacatur laws that allow minor sex trafficking victims to have any convictions that resulted or related to their trafficking vacated rather than merely expunged.  When a sentence is vacated, it is completely erased from all existence, as opposed to expungement, which normally just seals the records of the conviction.  Vacation of a sentence thus offers greater protection to the victim.

Turkey Project: This semester the Center is planning on writing a short book that discusses the legal framework regarding secularism and religious freedom in Turkey.  Turkey is a very strategic country, situated between the west and the east, mostly Muslim but constitutionally secular, etc.  Recent events in Turkey, however, have the potential to upset this balance and make Turkey another Islamic state.  The booklet is thus intended to explain Turkey's constitutional commitment  to secularism and guarantee of the Free Exercise of Religion and (2) the illegality of many of the government's recent actions, including the ongoing state support of mosques. We intend to use the booklet as a means to educate those in Turkey about what Turkish law actually says and requires.

African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights: The African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR) is the body responsible for overseeing and implementing the major human rights treaty for Africa. The Center for Global Justice is currently praying about whether to become a certified non-profit organization (NGO) before the ACHPR, which hosts two sessions every year in order to address the status of human rights in the continent. Center Executive Director, Professor Jeffrey Brauch, will be attending the next session, which is to be held in The Gambia in October. We are drafting a legal memo on the ACPHR to help us identify if and how we can be involved and to better understand the major human rights issues that need to be addressed from a biblical perspective.

ADF International: As always, the Center is partnering with ADF International to monitor all cases before the European Court of Human Rights to ensure that we identify all cases on which ADF should intervene.

Jerusalem Institute of Justice: This semester the Center is continuing a project from last semester for JIJ on the Palestinian refugees. One of the primary points of disagreement between Israel and Palestine is what to do with the Palestinian refugees.  Palestine claims all refugees have a "right to return" to Israel. Israel claims that no such right exists.  We are analyzing the legal situation of the refugees, specifically looking at whether a future (or existing?) state of Palestine has an obligation under International Law to grant citizenship to the refugees.


Possibilities for Home Education in Mongolia

Retrieved from: Welcome to Mongolia. 2016.

Hello, Everyone!

My name is Maria Cabrera, and this is my first year with the Center for Global Justice, Human Rights, and the Rule of Law (CGJ). I am a first-year Masters in Law student with Regent University. My favorite part of the CGJ is learning about people and different cultures throughout the world. Currently, second-year law student Moriah Schmidt and I are investigating the possibilities for home education in Mongolia.

As I begin the journey of learning about Mongolia and her people for home education, my youngest daughter begins her senior year at a local high school. I home schooled my two girls for fifteen years, one of which is a home-educated graduate. While my youngest chose to finish her education in a local high school, I am thankful and will always treasure the time I had and will continue to have with each one of them. Many years ago, my pastor told me, “Make each year count!”

So where is Mongolia?
Mongolia is a landlocked sovereign nation in East Asia surrounded by China, North and South Korea, Russian Federation, and Kazakhstan. According to the website, Welcome to Mongolia, the beautiful capital Ulaanbaatar is the largest city in Mongolia with a population of approximately 1.2 million people. Ulaanbaatar is a major cultural, political, commercial, and industrial hub of Mongolia. Welcome to Mongolia says that the capital city continues to grow with families moving into Ulaanbaatar to work because steady jobs in the countryside have become hard to find.

Retrieved from: www.worldatlas.com

While Mongolia is the most scattered populated sovereign nation in the world, with a population of about 3 million people, 30 percent of the population is at least semi-nomadic. Grass-covered steppes cover much of Mongolia, making it difficult to farm the land. The parallel mountain ranges of Altay and Hangayn sweep from the northwest into the heart of Mongolia with the Gobi Desert rounding out the southern region of Mongolia.

Who are the people of Mongolia?
The World Population Review states that approximately “Fifty percent of Mongolia’s citizens are under the age of thirty.” Moreover, over one-fourth of that population is under the age of fourteen! In addition, forty-five percent (little over one million) of Mongolia’s population lives in the capital of Ulaanbaatar. Author and long time visitor of Mongolia comments on The Mongolia Travel Guide how the nomads dress in a traditional garb and the urbanites dress in hi-fashion attire, yet they go about their business side-by-side in Ulaanbaatar. Still, about one-half of the population travel throughout the beautiful grassy steppes and Gobi Desert of Mongolia. 

Retrieved from: www.mongolia-travel-guide.com

The website, Countries and their Cultures discuss Mongolians and their value of family, parents, and children. Large families help one generation grow into the next generation; however, today the family size is smaller than in times past. “All family members participate in the rearing and moral education of their children.”

What does teaching and learning in Mongolia look like?
A blog for UNICEF states that 98 percent of the adult population of Mongolia is literate. While Mongolia has done so much for making education accessible throughout their land, a nation can always improve learning. Home-education could be an additional option to the present educational system for the parents and children of Mongolia.

Whether families live in the city or the countryside, they can benefit from a tailored curriculum of the parent’s choice and provide a great education for their children.

International speaker and educator Dr. Brian D. Ray states on his website,
National Home Education Research Institute that the “home-educated student usually score 15-30 percentile points higher than their public school colleagues and colleges are actively recruiting home-educated seniors at an increasing rate.”

I hope Mongolia can achieve its twin interest of ensuring children in its territory will continue to thrive with an additional choice of home-education while promoting freedom and competition in the realm of education. Whether one lives out the nomadic life in the great steppes of Mongolia, or enjoying the bustling life of Ulaanbaatar, home-education offers another feature to making education engaging and fun!

#homeschooling #home-education #Asia #Mongolia