Church State Corporation: Construing Religion in US Law

Front Cover
University of Chicago Press, Jul 15, 2020 - Religion - 222 pages
Church and state: a simple phrase that reflects one of the most famous and fraught relationships in the history of the United States. But what exactly is “the church,” and how is it understood in US law today? In Church State Corporation, religion and law scholar Winnifred Fallers Sullivan uncovers the deeply ambiguous and often unacknowledged ways in which Christian theology remains alive and at work in the American legal imagination.

Through readings of the opinions of the US Supreme Court and other legal texts, Sullivan shows how “the church” as a religious collective is granted special privilege in US law. In-depth analyses of Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC and Burwell v. Hobby Lobby reveal that the law tends to honor the religious rights of the group—whether in the form of a church, as in Hosanna-Tabor, or in corporate form, as in Hobby Lobby—over the rights of the individual, offering corporate religious entities an autonomy denied to their respective members. In discussing the various communities that construct the “church-shaped space” in American law, Sullivan also delves into disputes over church property, the legal exploitation of the black church in the criminal justice system, and the recent case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. Brimming with insight, Church State Corporation provocatively challenges our most basic beliefs about the ties between religion and law in ostensibly secular democracies.

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Other editions - View all

About the author (2020)

Winnifred Fallers Sullivan is provost professor in the department of religious studies, director of the Center for Religion and the Human, and affiliate professor of law at Indiana University Bloomington. She is the author, coauthor, or coeditor of multiple books, including, most recently, Ekklesia: Three Inquiries in Church and State; Politics of Religious Freedom; and A Ministry of Presence: Chaplaincy, Spiritual Care, and the Law, all published by the University of Chicago Press.

Bibliographic information