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February 01, 2019

Prof. Rebecca French, SUNY at Buffalo School of Law

University of Detroit Mercy School of Law will present its 21st annual McElroy Lecture on Law and Religion on Wednesday, March 13, featuring Rebecca French, professor of Law at the University at Buffalo School of Law, part of the State University of New York system.

The lecture, titled "Why Buddhism and Law Has Been Excluded from the Canon,” will explore why the discipline of Buddhism and Law has never been accepted in the West as a type of Religion and Law, despite the fact that the Buddha inspired a law code that has been called the founding charter of Buddhism. French will discuss this phenomenon against the background of Buddhist history, early Christianity and the dominance of the Holy Roman Empire as a model of state and religious law. She will also explore the role of colonialism in excluding Buddhism and Law from the canon of comparative religious law.

The event runs from 5 to 6 p.m. in Room 226 at the School of Law’s Riverfront Campus, 651 E. Jefferson Ave., Detroit. The lecture is free and open to the public. It will be followed by a complimentary reception. Registration is required at law.udmercy.edu.

French received her B.A. from the University of Michigan, her J.D. from the University of Washington, and an LL.M. and Ph.D. in legal anthropology from Yale University. Her scholarship is situated at the intersections of law, anthropology, legal theory, religious studies and Buddhist legal systems. She conducted four years of field research in Tibet and India, which resulted in a study of the Dalai Lama’s pre-1960 legal system, titled “The Golden Yoke.” Her other publications include “Buddhism and Law: An Introduction” and the academic journal, “Buddhism, Law & Society.”

The McElroy Lecture on Law and Religion provides a forum for prominent thinkers and leaders to address fundamental issues of law, religion and society. It seeks to educate students, legal professionals and the wider public on a variety of questions related to moral philosophy, freedom of conscience, the interaction of legal and religious institutions and the role of religion in public life. Late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was the first to give the McElroy lecture in 1995. Since then, other notable lecturers have included Intisar A. Rabb, Cardinal Adam Maida, Hon. John T. Noonan, Jr., and Nelson Tebbe. The lecture series is made possible through a gift from the estate of Detroit Mercy Law alumnus Philip J. McElroy.

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