Skip to main content

Corporate Religious Liberty in Church Teachings

  • Chapter
  • First Online:
A Christian Approach to Corporate Religious Liberty

Part of the book series: Palgrave Frontiers in Philosophy of Religion ((PFPR))

  • 186 Accesses

Abstract

This chapter searches for normative resources in modern ecclesial statements on (corporate) religious liberty and assesses their contributions to the contemporary American debate. While the Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches have well-developed theories of religious freedom, their understanding of corporate religious liberty requires development with regard to the appropriate moral and legal subjects involved. On this point, the churches overlook ethically salient differences between group-types, precariously straddle the divide between individual and group rights, and reduce the Church into a mere voluntary association. The chapter concludes that churches must draw upon the Christian tradition’s group ontology so that they might understand to whom or to what corporate religious liberty applies.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this chapter

Chapter
USD 29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
eBook
USD 99.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Softcover Book
USD 129.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Compact, lightweight edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info
Hardcover Book
USD 129.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Durable hardcover edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Institutional subscriptions

Notes

  1. 1.

    For example, see David L. Schindler, Heart of the World, Center of the Church: Communio Ecclesiology, Liberalism, and Liberation (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1996), 43–88; and Stanley Hauerwas, “Not Late Enough: The Divided Mind of ‘Dignitatis Humane Personae,’” in A Better Hope: Resources for a Church Confronting Capitalism, Democracy, and Postmodernity (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos, 2000), 109–16. See also Martin Rhonheimer, “Benedict XVI’s ‘Hermeneutic of Reform’ and Religious Freedom,” Nova et Vetera 9, no. 4 (2011), 1029–54; and Thomas Pink, “The Interpretation of Dignitatis Humanae: A Reply to Martin Rhonheimer,” Nova et Vetera 11, no. 1 (2013): 77–121. Finally, see V. Bradley Lewis, “Development in Catholic Social Teaching: John XXIII to Paul VI,” in Catholic Social Teaching: A Volume of Scholarly Essays, eds. Gerard V. Bradley and E. Christian Brugger (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019), 147.

  2. 2.

    Leslie Griffin, “Commentary on Dignitatis Humanae (Declaration on Religious Freedom),” in Modern Catholic Social Thinking: Commentaries and Interpretations, ed. Kenneth R. Himes O.F.M. (Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2005), 245.

  3. 3.

    Griffin, 245.

  4. 4.

    Griffin, 246.

  5. 5.

    Griffin, 253.

  6. 6.

    Pope Paul VI, “Dignitatis Humanae (Declaration on Religious Freedom): On the Right of the Person and of Communities to Social and Civil Freedom in Matters Religious,” in The Documents of Vatican II: All Sixteen Official Texts Promulgated by the Ecumenical Council, 19631965, ed. Walter M. Abbot S.J., trans. Joseph Gallagher (Piscataway, NJ: New Century Publishers, 1966), 676–7, para. 1 (henceforth cited by document’s Latin name in italics and paragraph only).

  7. 7.

    Dignitatis humanae, para. 2.

  8. 8.

    Griffin, “Commentary on Dignitatis Humanae,” 253.

  9. 9.

    Griffin, 250–2.

  10. 10.

    Griffin, 254.

  11. 11.

    J. Robert Nelson, “The Ecumenical Reception of the Dignitatis Humanae Declaration of the Second Vatican Council,” Ecumenical Trends 24 (May 1995): 67.

  12. 12.

    Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church (Washington, DC: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2014), para. 421 (henceforth, cited with title and paragraph number only).

  13. 13.

    Dignitatis humanae, para. 1.

  14. 14.

    Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, para. 421.

  15. 15.

    Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, para. 422.

  16. 16.

    Ibid.

  17. 17.

    Douglas Laycock refers to this attitude as the “Puritan mistake.” See Douglas Laycock, “Religious Liberty: Not for Religion or Against Religion, but for Individual Choice,” in Religious Liberty, Vol. 1, Overviews & History (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 2010), 123.

  18. 18.

    Dignitatis humanae, para. 2.

  19. 19.

    The World Council of Churches (WCC) was officially founded in 1948, and so I include within my historical purview pre–WCC documents that eventually and directly informed the WCC’s position on religious liberty. Moreover, while I focus upon Protestant perspectives when referencing the WCC, it should be noted that Orthodox churches have been members of the WCC since its inception.

  20. 20.

    See World Conference on Church, Community and State, “Excerpt from the Report on Church and State, Oxford 1937,” in Main Ecumenical Statements on Principles Concerning Religious Freedom (Geneva: World Council of Churches, 1965), 1.

  21. 21.

    Ninan Koshy, Religious Freedom in a Changing World (Geneva: WCC Publications, 1992), 73–74.

  22. 22.

    The Third Assembly of the World Council of Churches, “Statement on Religious Liberty, New Delhi 1961,” in Main Ecumenical Statements on Principles Concerning Religious Freedom (Geneva: World Council of Churches, 1965), 35.

  23. 23.

    The Third Assembly of the World Council of Churches, 36.

  24. 24.

    Secretariat on Religious Liberty Division of Studies, World Council of Churches, Main Ecumenical Statements on Principles Concerning Religious Freedom (Geneva: World Council of Churches, 1965), 36, lines 13–14.

  25. 25.

    The Third Assembly of the World Council of Churches, 36–37, especially lines 36–53.

  26. 26.

    World Conference on Church, Community and State, “Excerpt from the Report on Church and State, Oxford 1937”; The Conference of the International Missionary Council, “Excerpt from the Report on Church and State, Madras 1938,” in Main Ecumenical Statements on Principles Concerning Religious Freedom (Geneva: World Council of Churches, 1965), 3–4; and The First Assembly of the World Council of Churches, “Declaration on Religious Liberty, Amsterdam 1948,” in Main Ecumenical Statements on Principles Concerning Religious Freedom (Geneva: World Council of Churches, 1965), 5–7.

  27. 27.

    The Third Assembly of the World Council of Churches, “Statement on Religious Liberty, New Delhi 1961,” 35, lines 41–45; 37, lines 18–26; and possibly 35, lines 47–54.

  28. 28.

    The First Assembly of the World Council of Churches, “Declaration on Religious Liberty, Amsterdam 1948,” 7.

  29. 29.

    The Third Assembly of the World Council of Churches, “Statement on Religious Liberty, New Delhi 1961,” 35.

  30. 30.

    See Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., 134 S.Ct. 2751 (2014). The federal government issued a mandate that would require employers to cover the contraceptive costs of their employees, i.e., the “contraceptive mandate.” The Hobby Lobby Court held that the mandate violated the religious liberty rights of closely held corporations, as protected under the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

  31. 31.

    Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, para. 426.

  32. 32.

    Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, para. 424.

  33. 33.

    Pope John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus of the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II: On the Hundredth Anniversary of Rerum Novarum (London: St. Paul Publications, 1991), para. 47.

  34. 34.

    Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, para. 424.

  35. 35.

    Pope Paul VI, “Pastoral Constitution of the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et Spes),” in Abbot, The Documents of Vatican II: All Sixteen Official Texts Promulgated by the Ecumenical Council, 19631965 (Piscataway, NJ: New Century Publishers, 1966), para. 76 (henceforth cited by document’s Latin name in italics and paragraph only).

  36. 36.

    Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, para. 425.

  37. 37.

    Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, para. 427.

  38. 38.

    For historical discussion, especially of the United States, see Kent Greenawalt, Religion and the Constitution, Vol. 1, Free Exercise and Fairness (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006), 11–25.

  39. 39.

    See historical discussion of voluntarism in Sect. 6.2.2.

  40. 40.

    United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Our First, Most Cherished Liberty: A Statement on Religious Liberty, March 5, 2012, http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/upload/Our_First_Most_Cherished_Liberty.pdf.

  41. 41.

    United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 8.

  42. 42.

    Gaudium et spes, para. 3, 11, 44, 45, 88, and 92 (for “People of God” references), para. 32, 39, and 78 (“Body” references), and para. 9 and 48 (“Church as sacrament” references).

  43. 43.

    See discussion in Avery Dulles S.J., “Nature, Mission, and Structure of the Church,” in Vatican II: Renewal within Tradition, eds. Matthew Lamb and Matthew Levering (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), 31.

  44. 44.

    For sources and discussion, see Sect. 6.1.2.

  45. 45.

    Jacques Maritain connects the philosophical ideas of subsistere (subsistence, from Lumen gentium) and persona to argue that the Church has a supernatural personality. See Jacques Maritain, On the Church of Christ: The Person of the Church and Her Personnel, trans. Joseph W. Evans (London: University of Notre Dame Press, 1973), 18. See also Sect. 6.3.1.

  46. 46.

    Dignitatis humanae, para. 2.

  47. 47.

    United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Our First, Most Cherished Liberty, 5.

  48. 48.

    Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, para. 425.

  49. 49.

    The Conference of the International Missionary Council, “Excerpt from the Report on Church and State, Madras 1938,” 3.

  50. 50.

    The First Assembly of the World Council of Churches, “Declaration on Religious Liberty, Amsterdam 1948,” 7.

  51. 51.

    The Conference of the International Missionary Council, “Excerpt from the Report on Church and State, Madras 1938,” 4.

  52. 52.

    See also the individualist rights listed in the 1948 Declaration. They include the rights of “every person … to determine his own faith and creed … to express his religious beliefs in worship, teaching and practice … and to associate with others and to organize with them for religious purposes.” The First Assembly of the World Council of Churches, “Declaration on Religious Liberty, Amsterdam 1948,” 6–7.

  53. 53.

    Brief for 38 Protestant Theologians et al. as Amici Curiae in Support of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga, et al. at 15, Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., 573 U.S. ___ (2014) (No. 13-354) (italics in original).

  54. 54.

    Brief for 38 Protestant Theologians at 23.

  55. 55.

    Marci Hamilton, God vs. the Gavel: The Perils of Extreme Religious Liberty, 2nd ed. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014), 347–59; and Cécile Laborde, Liberalism’s Religion (London: Harvard University Press, 2017), 171–90.

  56. 56.

    Richard Schragger and Micah Schwartzman, “Some Realism about Corporate Rights,” in The Rise of Corporate Religious Liberty, eds. Micah Schwartzman, Chad Flanders, and Zöe Robinson (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), 353–60.

  57. 57.

    I find the distinction between the prima facie strength of church freedoms and for-profit exemptions to be ethically appropriate. See Sect. 5.2 for further discussion.

  58. 58.

    See Religious Exemptions and Accommodations for Coverage of Certain Preventive Services Under the Affordable Care Act, 83 Fed. Reg. 57,536, 57,537 (November 18, 2018) (to be codified at 26 C.F.R pt. 54). As of May 2020, disagreements over what the accommodation scheme requires still persist. See Reply Brief for Petitioner, The Little Sisters of the Poor Saints Peter and Paul Home at 6, Little Sisters of the Poor Saints Peter and Paul Home v. Pennsylvania, No. 19-431 (U.S. argued May 6, 2020).

  59. 59.

    For narrow definitions of eligible organizations see Exemption and Accommodations in Connection with Coverage of Preventive Health Services, 78 Fed. Reg. 39,870, 39,896 (2013) and Returns by Exempt Organizations, 26 U.S.C. § 6033(a)(3)(A)(i)–(iii). A broader definition can be found in Accommodations in Connection with Coverage of Preventive Health Services (Temporary), 26 C.F.R. § 54.9815–2713AT (2017).

  60. 60.

    “Free Exercise of Religion: Putting Beliefs into Practice—An Open Letter from Religious Leaders in the United States to All Americans,” United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, June 2012, para. 1, http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/fortnight-for-freedom/upload/Free-Exercise-of-Religion-Putting-Beliefs-into-Practice.pdf.

  61. 61.

    “Free Exercise of Religion,” para. 5 (italics mine).

  62. 62.

    For a discussion of not-for-profit organizations and ownership, see Henry Hansmann, The Ownership of Enterprise (London: Harvard University Press, 1996), 28, 35–39.

  63. 63.

    For example, the Roman Catholic healthcare system, Dignity Health, began under the auspices of an order of religious sisters. Today it retains a Catholic ethos without being managed directly by a religious order. See “Our History: Rooted in Kindness,” Dignity Health, accessed May 9, 2020, https://www.dignityhealth.org/about-us/our-organization/mission-vision-and-values.

  64. 64.

    For example, Methodist Health System is contractually bound to the North Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church through a written covenant. See “Covenant Between North Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church and Methodist Hospitals of Dallas,” Methodist Health System, accessed May 9, 2020, https://www.methodisthealthsystem.org/documents/CovenantwithUnitedMethodistChurch.pdf.

  65. 65.

    Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, 42 U.S.C. § 2000bb (2017).

  66. 66.

    “Protecting the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993—Letter to Congress,” United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, published June 30, 2014, para. 2, http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/upload/Faith-Communities-RFRA-Letter-to-Congress.pdf.

  67. 67.

    Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, para. 130; Gaudium et spes, para. 16; and Catholic Church, Catechism of the Catholic Church (London: Geoffrey Chapman, 1994), para. 1951 (henceforth, cited with title and paragraph only).

  68. 68.

    Griffin, “Commentary on Dignitatis Humanae,” 253; Dignitatis humanae, para. 2; and Catechism of the Catholic Church, para. 1951.

  69. 69.

    Dignitatis humanae, para. 2, 10.

  70. 70.

    Dignitatis humanae, para. 4.

  71. 71.

    John Finnis, “Religion and Public Life in Pluralist Society,” in Religion & Public Reasons: Collected Essays; Volume V (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), 42, 54–55.

  72. 72.

    Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, 138 S.Ct. 1719 (2018) (Ginsburg, J., and Sotomayor, J., dissenting) (holding that the “Commission did not comply with the Free Exercise Clause’s requirement of religious neutrality”).

  73. 73.

    Masterpiece, 138 S.Ct. at 1722.

  74. 74.

    The Third Assembly of the World Council of Churches, “Statement on Religious Liberty, New Delhi 1961,” 36, line 34.

  75. 75.

    The Third Assembly of the World Council of Churches, 36, lines 45–49.

  76. 76.

    Brief for 38 Protestant Theologians et al. as Amici Curiae in Support of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga, et al. at 4, Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., 573 U.S. ___ (2014) (No. 13-354).

  77. 77.

    Brief for 38 Protestant Theologians at 6.

  78. 78.

    Brief for 38 Protestant Theologians at 11 (italics in original).

  79. 79.

    Brief for 38 Protestant Theologians at 24.

  80. 80.

    Brief for 38 Protestant Theologians at 15 (italics in original).

  81. 81.

    Brief for 38 Protestant Theologians at 23.

  82. 82.

    The First Assembly of the World Council of Churches, “Declaration on Religious Liberty, Amsterdam 1948,” 7, lines 52–55.

  83. 83.

    “Protecting the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993—Letter to Congress,” para. 4 (referencing Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, 42 U.S.C. § 2000bb-1(b) [2017]).

  84. 84.

    Mark 12:17 (RSV).

  85. 85.

    Brief for 38 Protestant Theologians at 20.

  86. 86.

    See United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Our First, Most Cherished Liberty, 7; and “Free Exercise of Religion,” para. 5.

  87. 87.

    The First Assembly of the World Council of Churches, “Declaration on Religious Liberty, Amsterdam 1948,” 7.

  88. 88.

    John Finnis, Aquinas: Moral, Political, and Legal Theory (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), 28.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Edward A. David .

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

Copyright information

© 2020 The Author(s)

About this chapter

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this chapter

David, E.A. (2020). Corporate Religious Liberty in Church Teachings. In: A Christian Approach to Corporate Religious Liberty. Palgrave Frontiers in Philosophy of Religion. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-56211-3_2

Download citation

Publish with us

Policies and ethics