The Rise of Public–Private Religious Partnerships: Arguing Church Autonomy in the Era of Public Funding of Religion

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Religion and government, following the influence of Locke and Madison are often considered two different institutions. As such, they function under different sets of rules. We argue that the ‘two institutions’ image and institutional reality are increasingly untenable. Rather, religion and government are intertwined in many democratic countries, including, growingly, in the US, that it would be more accurate to speak of the new norm of governmental–religious hybridity. Advances in data collected regarding religion–state relations, and the accumulation of court decisions in the US bring to the fore a new norm of religious–governmental hybridity. Such hybrid institutions are typically functionally religious associations; however, their funding is sourced in the government to create ‘public private religious partnerships’. If such a re-classification is justified, then norms of public law should apply to such religious associations. This bears substantial implications vis-a-vis central concepts used in political and legal circles regarding religious freedom; furthermore, this reclassification also bears upon an ongoing intellectual debate between scholars such as Chiara Cordelli—advocating democratization of religion, and Michael W. McConnell who advocated an opposing view: a strong version of church autonomy. So, this reclassification bears important implications for both scholarly debates and political issues.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-33
Number of pages17
JournalOxford Journal of Law and Religion
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2023

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# The Author(s) 2024. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.


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