What Do Religious Corporations Owe for Burdening Individual Civil Rights


In the name of religious liberty, recent legislative initiatives by Christian nationalists seek broad legal exemptions from general law. This reflects an abiding antipathy to and a fear of the power of the state, the ultimate aim of which may be sovereignty for religious institutions. But, the claims of Christian nationalists are vulnerable to a series of critical objections. First, the rhetoric of religious liberty used by Christian nationalists plays on confusion between two senses of religious liberty – that of institutional religious freedom and that of individual freedom of religious conscience. These two senses need to be distinguished, since they are sometimes in fundamental conflict with one another, arguably to the extent of institutional religious freedom burdening individual religious conscience. Further, legal exemptions to general law that benefit particular religious institutions should also be recognized as gifts. They are not fundamental or inalienable rights. Therefore, granting such accommodations requires that religious communities benefitting from them should somehow reciprocate for their being exempted from common obligations under general law.

Author Biography

Ivan Strenski, University of California, Riverside (UCR), USA

Ivan Strenski is Holstein Family and Community Professor of Religious Studies at UCR. In recent decades he has traveled extensively and maintained close contact with scholars in Europe, Russia, North and South America, Asia. He considers his current role in bridging cultural and intellectual gaps between the countries of these regions. He is the author of the following books: Why Politics Can’t Be Freed From Religion (2010), Dumont on Religion: Difference, Comparison, Transgression (2008), The New Durkheim: Essays on Philosophy, Religious Identity and the Politics of Knowledge (2006), A Companion Reader to Thinking about Religion (2005), Thinking about Religion (2005), Theology and the First Theory of Sacrifice (2003), Contesting Sacrifice: Religion, Nationalism and Social Thought (2002), Durkheim and the Jews of France (1997), Religion in Relation: Method, Application and Moral Location (1993), Four Theories of Myth in Twentieth Century History (1988).


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How to Cite
Strenski, I. (2019). What Do Religious Corporations Owe for Burdening Individual Civil Rights. Changing Societies & Personalities, 3(2), 113–123. doi:10.15826/csp.2019.3.2.065