The sacred and secular blogs: Meet the team

Updated Monday, 22nd June 2015
The sacred and secular blogs will be supervised by a team of academics from the OU law school and guest academics joining the team from around the world. Here is some information about them...

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Rex Ahdar Rex Ahdar, Professor Faculty of Law, University of Ontago

Rex Ahdar is Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand and Adjunct Professor, University of Notre Dame Australia, School of Law, Sydney. He is a Barrister and Solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand. He lectures on Competition Law, Contract Law, Law and Sport, and Law and Religion. He was a Fulbright Senior Scholar at Boalt Hall School of Law, UC Berkeley. He is author or editor of Competition Law and Policy in New Zealand (1991); [with John Stenhouse] God and Government: The New Zealand Experience (2000); Law and Religion (2000); Worlds Colliding: Conservative Christians and the Law (2001); [with Nicholas Aroney] Sharia in the West (2010); and [with Ian Leigh] Religious Freedom in the Liberal State (2nd ed, 2013). Published articles in journals such as Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, Cambridge Law Journal, Modern Law Review, McGill Law Journal, Ratio Juris, Stanford Journal of Civil Rights & Civil Liberties, Journal of Church & State, Journal of Law & Religion, Religion & Human Rights, and Rutgers Journal of Law & Religion.

Rodrigo Vitorino Souza Alves Rodrigo Vitorino Souza Alves, Faculty of Law, Federal University of Uberlandia

Rodrigo Vitorino Souza Alves is a member of the Academic Staff of Faculty of Law of the Federal University of Uberlandia. He was an Academic Visitor at the Faculty of Law of University of Oxford (2014/2015). His teaching and research interests include Constitutional Law, Human Rights, and Law and Religion. Rodrigo is the Coordinator of the Law and Religion Research Group (Brazil), which focuses on religious freedom, religious minorities, anti-discrimination norms and religion-state relations. Rodrigo served as guest speaker at the Sixth Session of the Forum on Minority Issues of the United Nations, on the rights of religious minorities.

Iain Benson Law project image Iain T. Benson, Faculty of Law, University of the Free State, South Africa

Professor Benson, JD, PhD, is called to Bars of BC and Ontario, Canada. He is currently Professor Extraordinary, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein; Visiting Professor (Comparative Constitutional Law) Faculty of Law, University of Western Ontario, South African Institute for Advanced Constitutional, Human Rights, Public and International Law; Senior Research Fellow, Chester Ronning Centre for the Study of Religion and Public Life, University of Alberta; Member of the Board and Executive Committee of the Global Centre for Pluralism, Ottawa, Canada. Retained by the Federal Government of Canada for Policy Research Initiative on "Religion and Public Policy" (Jan 2008); one of the drafters of the South African Charter of Religious Rights and Freedoms (2010); Special Rapporteur on Law and Religion in Canada and South Africa to the Pontifical Academy of the Social Sciences, Vatican City (2012); many academic articles and book chapters; work cited by both the Supreme Court of Canada and the Constitutional Court of South Africa. Author, Living Together with Disagreement: Pluralism, the Secular and the Fair Treatment of Beliefs by Law. PhD Thesis, "Associational Framework for the Reconciliation of Competing Rights Claims Involving the Freedom of Religion" (2013).

Janet Epp Buckingham Janet Epp-Buckingham, professor at Trinity Western University

Janet Epp Buckingham is a professor at Trinity Western University and serves the Director of the Laurentian Leadership Centre, an Ottawa-based, live-in, extension program for upper-year university students focusing on public policy. In 1986 Buckingham received her LL.B. from Dalhousie University.  She clerked for the Federal Court of Canada has been called to the bar and practiced law in Nova Scotia and Ontario. Buckingham completed her LL.D. at the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa in 1998, with a dissertation comparing religious freedom in Canada and South Africa. She has numerous academic publications on religious freedom, and has most recently published a book on the history of religious freedom in Canada, Fighting over God. 


Carl Gardner Carl Gardner, associate law lecturer, The Open University

Carl Gardner is a barrister, and worked as a lawyer for the UK government for 12 years, spending periods at Cabinet Office and the Attorney General's Office. He teaches law as an associate lecturer at The Open University, and writes about law at



Jessica Giles image Jessica Giles, law lecturer, The Open University

Jessica is lecturer at the Open University Law School. She is Module Chair of a level 2 LLB module on constitutional and administrative law and criminal law and deputy Module Chair on a stage 1 LLB module Concepts and Perspectives covering key national and international legal principles and traditions.  She also teaches English legal systems and EU law. Her area of research interest is the synthesis between law & religion and philosophical theology. She also carries out scholarship research in the field of online learning and is an associate editor of the Oxford Journal of Law and Religion.


Simon Lavis image Dr. Simon Lavis, law lecturer, The Open University

Simon is a lecturer at the Open University Law School. His teaching interest is primarily in public law and he is chairing the module team writing the Public Law and Criminal Law module, W203, for the new LLB. He is also involved as an author of units on research skills and law and language for stage 3 modules in production. Simon’s research interest is in the areas of legal theory, legal history and the history and law of Nazi Germany. He recently completed his PhD at the University of Nottingham on the misrepresentation of Nazi law in Anglo-American jurisprudence and is currently preparing articles for publication on that subject.

Hugh McFaul Hugh McFaul, law lecturer, The Open University

Hugh is a lecturer at the Open University Law School. His teaching interests include legal philosophy, European Union law and constitutional law. He is currently chairing the stage 1 LLB module Law Concepts and Perspectives. Hugh has research interests in legal ethics and on the interaction between law and religious belief.


Jaclyn Neo - law and religion photo Dr. Jaclyn L. Neo, Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore

Dr. Jaclyn L. Neo is Assistant Professor at the National University of Singapore’s Faculty of Law. She is a recipient of several academic scholarships, including the NUS Law Faculty scholarship and the NUS Overseas Graduate Scholarship, and received her Doctor of the Science of Law (JSD) from Yale Law School, where she studied constitutional systems that mix state and religion. Jaclyn recently led and concluded a ten-country research project on religious freedom in ASEAN with the Human Rights Resource Centre. 

The Student Team

The academic team is delighted to introduce you to students who are assisting on the project...

Thiago Alves image Thiago Alves, DPhil, The University of Oxford

Thiago holds a LLB (Hons.) from Centro Universitário Curitiba (Brazil) and a Masters in International Human Rights Law from Åbo Akademi University (Finland), where he graduated with honours, eximia cum laude approbatur. Thiago is currently a DPhil candidate in Law at the University of Oxford and the secretary of the Oxford Society for Law and Religion. His research focuses on offence to religious belief in international human right law.



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