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From Group Ontology to Christian Moral Reasoning

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A Christian Approach to Corporate Religious Liberty

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

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Abstract

This chapter demonstrates how the assignment of rights to corporate religious liberty is improved when groups are primarily understood as social actions. Responding to the question “Is group ontology morally distracting?,” the chapter makes two related claims: first, that group ontology (when understood from a natural law perspective) is part of practical reason itself and thus is necessary for moral analysis; and, second, that group ontology (in its theological and metaphysically strong form) provides additional resources to complement moral deliberation. After focusing upon the natural and theological virtues (as found in Saint Paul and Saint Thomas Aquinas), the chapter considers the directions a Christian approach to corporate religious liberty might take with respect to disputes involving wedding vendors and clerical sex abuse.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    An earlier version of Sect. 7.1 appeared in Edward A. David, “Is Group Ontology Morally Distracting? A Natural Law Approach to Corporate Religious Liberty,” Oxford Journal of Law and Religion 8, no. 3 (October 2019): 641–44, 647–49, https://doi.org/10.1093/ojlr/rwz022.

  2. 2.

    John Finnis, Aquinas: Moral, Political, and Legal Theory (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), 27.

  3. 3.

    Finnis, Aquinas, 24 (referencing Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologiae II-II q. 58, aa. 2 and 5). Henceforth, in this chapter, I reference the English Dominicans’ translation, using book, question, and article enumeration. See Summa theologiae, ed. Fathers of the English Dominican Province, 61 vols. (London: Blackfriars, 1964–1980).

  4. 4.

    ST I-II prol.; and Thomas Aquinas, Sententia libri ethicorum (Rome: Ad Sanctae Sabinae, 1969), vol. 1, prol., n. 6.

  5. 5.

    Finnis, Aquinas, 26.

  6. 6.

    John Finnis, Natural Law & Natural Rights, 2nd ed (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), 198–99.

  7. 7.

    This claim holds at least with respect to the field of jurisprudence, if not to ethical theory in general.

  8. 8.

    Finnis, Natural Law & Natural Rights, 199, n. 28.

  9. 9.

    See discussion of persona in Sect. 6.3.1.

  10. 10.

    Finnis, Aquinas, 27; John Finnis, “Persons and Their Associations,” in Intention and Identity: Collected Essays; Volume II (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), 95, 98.

  11. 11.

    For example, while Christian List and Philip Pettit outline an account of group agency that is compatible with a natural law ontology, they endorse a normative individualism that may not translate well into a natural law account of natural rights. See Christian List and Philip Pettit, Group Agency: The Possibility, Design, and Status of Corporate Agents (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), 182.

  12. 12.

    For alternative conceptions of the logic of (natural or legal) rights, see Joseph Raz, “Right-Based Moralities,” in Theories of Rights, ed. Jeremy Waldron (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984), 183.

  13. 13.

    Finnis, “Persons and Their Associations,” 95.

  14. 14.

    Finnis, Natural Law & Natural Rights, 86, 139–44, 144–50.

  15. 15.

    Finnis, 153.

  16. 16.

    Finnis, 218.

  17. 17.

    Raz, “Right-Based Moralities,” 184.

  18. 18.

    Raz, 185.

  19. 19.

    Raz, 186.

  20. 20.

    Romans 12–15 (RSV).

  21. 21.

    Servais Pinckaers O.P., “Conscience and Christian Tradition,” in The Pinckaers Reader: Renewing Thomistic Moral Theology, ed. John Berkman and Craig Steven Titus (Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 2005), 325 (italics mine).

  22. 22.

    Pinckaers, 326.

  23. 23.

    Finnis, Natural Law & Natural Rights, 35.

  24. 24.

    Richard Conrad, “Human Practice and God’s Making-Good in Aquinas’ Virtue Ethics,” in Varieties of Virtue Ethics, ed. David Carr, James Arthur, and Kristján Kristjánsson (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), 163–79.

  25. 25.

    Conrad, 164–65 (referencing ST I-II q. 5, aa. 3-4).

  26. 26.

    Conrad, 175 (referencing ST I-II q. 94, a. 2).

  27. 27.

    Conrad, 165 (referencing ST I qq. 81–82).

  28. 28.

    ST I-II q. 55, a. 4 (internal quotation marks removed).

  29. 29.

    For example, see ST I-II qq. 55–70 and ST II-II qq. 1–170.

  30. 30.

    Conrad, “Human Practice and God’s Making-Good,” 165 (referencing ST I-II q. 61, a. 1).

  31. 31.

    ST I-II q. 65, a. 1.

  32. 32.

    ST I-II q. 95, a. 1.

  33. 33.

    Conrad, “Human Practice and God’s Making-Good,” 171–73 (noting how the acquired and infused virtues supply for each other).

  34. 34.

    Conrad, 166–67 (italics in original) (referencing ST I-II q. 2, a. 8; and ST I-II q. 62 a. 3).

  35. 35.

    ST I-II q. 55, a. 4.

  36. 36.

    Conrad, “Human Practice and God’s Making-Good,” 168–69 (italics in original).

  37. 37.

    ST I-II q. 63, a. 4.

  38. 38.

    ST I-II q. 5, aa. 4–5.

  39. 39.

    List and Pettit, Group Agency, 9.

  40. 40.

    Raz, “Right-Based Moralities,” 186.

  41. 41.

    ST I-II q. 55, a. 4; and Joseph J. Kotva Jr., The Christian Case for Virtue Ethics (Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 1996), 38.

  42. 42.

    Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church (Washington, DC: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2014), para. 422. See also 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, lines 41–45; 37, lines 18–26; and 35, lines 47–54.

  43. 43.

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

  44. 44.

    The acquired virtues could also be said to result from the infused virtues. Aquinas, however, does not disentangle the acquired and infused virtues. See Richard Conrad, “Human Practice and God’s Making-Good,” 171–73, 175–76.

  45. 45.

    Conrad, 171.

  46. 46.

    For example, see Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, 138 S.Ct. 1719 (2018); and State of Washington v. Arlene’s Flowers, Inc., 441 P.3d 1203 (Wash. 2019).

  47. 47.

    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), 7. See discussion of Protestant and Catholic perspectives in Sect. 2.1 above.

  48. 48.

    Brian Leiter, Why Tolerate Religion? (Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2013), 52–53.

  49. 49.

    Leiter, 34.

  50. 50.

    Leiter, 56–58.

  51. 51.

    Leiter, 16–17.

  52. 52.

    ST II-II q. 81, a. 5.

  53. 53.

    ST I-II q. 5, aa. 3–4.

  54. 54.

    ST I-II q. 96, a. 1.

  55. 55.

    See Richard Garnett, “Symposium: Conscience, Conditions, and Access to Civil Society,” SCOTUSBlog: Supreme Court of the United States Blog, September 15, 2017, https://www.scotusblog.com/2017/09/symposium-conscience-conditions-access-civil-society/ (arguing for the protection of religious conscience in public-accommodations contexts); John Finnis, “Equality and Religious Liberty: Oppressing Conscientious Diversity in England,” in Religious Freedom and Gay Rights: Emerging Conflicts in the United States and Europe, ed. Timothy Samuel Shah, Thomas F. Farr, and Jack Friedman (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), 21–40 (arguing for reasonable accommodation of religious conscience). But see also John Finnis, “Darwin, Dewey, Religion, and the Public Domain,” in Religion & Public Reasons: Collected Essays; Volume V (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), 37–38 (arguing that the neutrality requirement of the free exercise doctrine following Employment Division v. Smith should suffice to “give religion the constitutional protection it deserves”).

  56. 56.

    Brief for the United States as Amicus Curiae Supporting Petitioners at 7, Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, 138 S.Ct. 1719 (2018) (No. 16–111) (arguing that Colorado’s public-accommodations law directly implicates the Free Speech Clause, not the Free Exercise Clause); Finnis, “Darwin, Dewey, Religion, and the Public Domain,” 37–38 (suggesting that “unjust impositions on religious or religiously motivated activities and associations” are best resisted by “associational freedom and parental rights,” rather than religious liberty, in legal disputes involving same-sex marriage).

  57. 57.

    Employment Division, Department of Human Resources of Oregon v. Smith, 494 U.S. 872 (1990) (the Free Exercise Clause permits the state to prohibit the sacramental use of peyote and to deny unemployment benefits for individuals discharged for using the drug). Eric Segall, “Symposium: Disentangling Free Speech and Freedom of Religion in Masterpiece Cakeshop,” SCOTUSBlog: Supreme Court of the United States Blog, September 13, 2017, https://www.scotusblog.com/2017/09/symposium-disentangling-free-speech-freedom-religion-masterpiece-cakeshop/ (arguing that “discrimination in the provision of secular services based on religious belief … does not deserve constitutional protection,” but that the baker’s free speech claims are worth consideration).

  58. 58.

    For a debate over the logic of hybrid rights, involving Muslim communities, see Frederick Mark Gedicks, “Three Questions about Hybrid Rights and Religious Groups,” Yale Law Journal Forum 117 (March 19, 2008), https://www.yalelawjournal.org/forum/three-questions-about-hybrid-rights-and-religious-groups; Murad Hussain, “Reweighting the Balance: Religious Groups, Mortal Threats, and ‘Hybrid Situations,’” Yale Law Journal Forum 117 (March 23, 2008), https://www.yalelawjournal.org/forum/reweighting-the-balance-religious-groups-mortal-threats-and-hybrid-situations.

  59. 59.

    Marci Hamilton, God vs. the Gavel: The Perils of Extreme Religious Liberty, 2nd ed. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014), 45.

  60. 60.

    Paul Horwitz, First Amendment Institutions (London: Harvard University Press, 2013), 189.

  61. 61.

    Abraham Kuyper, “Third Lecture: Calvinism and Politics,” in Lectures on Calvinism (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2008), 83.

  62. 62.

    City of Boerne v. Flores, 521 U.S. 507, 542–43 (1997) (J. Scalia, concurring and pointing to the priest-penitent privilege recognized in People v. Phillips, Court of General Sessions, City of New York [1813]).

  63. 63.

    Kent Greenawalt, Exemptions: Necessary, Justified, or Misguided? (London: Harvard University Press, 2016), 188–89.

  64. 64.

    S.B. 360, Cal. Leg., Reg. Sess. (Cal. 2019). See Section 2, (d)(1)(A)-(E).

  65. 65.

    S.B. 360, Cal. Leg., Reg. Sess. (Cal. 2019). See Section 2, (d)(5)(A)-(B).

  66. 66.

    S.B. 360, Cal. Leg., Reg. Sess. (Cal. 2019). See Section 2, (c).

  67. 67.

    “California Confession Law Dropped,” Catholic News Agency, July 9, 2019, https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/california-confession-law-dropped-31494.

  68. 68.

    Greenawalt, Exemptions, 188–89.

  69. 69.

    “Statute of Limitations,” California Courts: The Judicial Branch of California, accessed April 7, 2020, http://www.courts.ca.gov/9618.htm.

  70. 70.

    Thomas Reese S.J., “Extending the statute of limitations,” National Catholic Reporter, June 16, 2016, https://www.ncronline.org/blogs/faith-and-justice/extending-statute-limitations.

  71. 71.

    Ibid.

  72. 72.

    For example, see United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Report on the Implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, May 2018, http://usccb.org/issues-and-action/child-and-youth-protection/upload/2017-Report.pdf; Sigal Samuel, “Should the Catholic Church Pay Reparations to Sex-Abuse Victims?,” Atlantic, September 25, 2018, https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/09/catholic-church-reparation-compensation-sex-abuse/570610/.

  73. 73.

    Reese, “Extending the Statute of Limitations” (italics mine).

  74. 74.

    Ibid.

  75. 75.

    Sigal Samuel, “Should the Catholic Church Pay Reparations?”.

  76. 76.

    Christina Capatides, “Catholic Church Spent $10.6 Million to Lobby Against Legislation that Would Benefit Victims of Child Sex Abuse,” CBS News, June 6, 2019, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/catholic-church-scandal-spent-10-million-lobbyists-fight-extension-statutes-of-limitations-child-sex-abuse-vicims/.

  77. 77.

    Williams Cedar LLC and Seeger Weiss LLP, Church Influencing State: How the Catholic Church Spent Millions Against Survivors of Clergy Abuse, June 2019, https://www.williamscedar.com/files/2019/06/ChurchInfluencingStateCatholic.pdf.

  78. 78.

    United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Protection of Children and Young People, 38.

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David, E.A. (2020). From Group Ontology to Christian Moral Reasoning. 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_7

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