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The Rise of Corporate Religious Liberty$
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Micah Schwartzman, Chad Flanders, and Zoë Robinson

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190262525

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190262525.001.0001

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Freedom of the Church and Our Endangered Civil Rights

Freedom of the Church and Our Endangered Civil Rights

Exiting the Social Contract

(p.399) 19 Freedom of the Church and Our Endangered Civil Rights
The Rise of Corporate Religious Liberty

Robin West

Oxford University Press

This chapter suggests that the “freedom of the church” to ignore various Civil Rights Acts—a right created (or discovered) by the Court in Hosanna-Tabor —is a vivid example of a new and deeply troubling family of rights, which the author has called “exit rights” and which collectively constitute a new paradigm of institutional and individual rights in constitutional law. The church’s right to the ministerial exception might be understood as one of this new generation of rights, which exempt their holders from legal obligations that are constitutive of civil society. These new rights thereby create, in effect, separate spheres of individual or group sovereignty into which otherwise binding legal norms and obligations do not reach. They are “rights to exit” civil society and the social compact at its core, or at least rights to exist some substantial part of it..

Keywords:   freedom of the church, exit rights, civil rights, civil society, Hosanna-Tabor

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