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  • Wednesday, March 23, 2016
  • 3:30 PM–5:00 PM
  • Prince Conference Center Willow Room

Importance of Rule of Law to government, markets, and civil society

The Henry Institute will sponsor the annual Rule of Law Lecture on Wednesday, March 23 featuring Rebecca Samuel Shah at 3:30 pm in the Willow Room at the Prince Conference Center. Shah’s lecture on “Christianity Among the Marginalized: Empowering Poor Women in India” will focus on female converts to Christianity in India who come from “untouchable” or "Dalit" backgrounds.  Through her research and personal contact, she finds that the new faith of these women often enhances their dignity, agency, and hope for the future – and that participation in small, face-to-face Christian communities gives them access to networks of support and accountability that yield significant economic and social benefits. For example, Shah demonstrates that women who participate in these faith-based networks are more likely to report cases of domestic abuse, are more able to involve community leaders in solving family problems (including domestic violence), and are more able to save money for the needs of their families, including their children's education. These arguments serve to underscore how much full religious freedom -- understood as full equality before the law and a full, realized equality of dignity and agency -- contribute to the day-to-day well-being and flourishing of poor Dalit women in India today.

Shah is a research fellow with both the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, and with the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University. She is an associate scholar with the Berkley Center’s Religious Freedom Project, and is a recipient of the Historical Society in Boston’s Religion and Innovation in Human Affairs grant for her work on “Holy Avarice: Religion and the Re-enchantment of Modern Capitalism” Project. Shah is also the principal investigator for a research project on the effects of tithing and thrift on the enterprising poor in Bangalore, India, funded by the Templeton Foundation.

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