Church Property as a Bulwark of Religious Liberty

The link between liberty and private ownership of property is well appreciated in Western thought. This lecture explores one aspect of that link: the relationship between church property and religious liberty. Focusing on the intersection of law, culture, and religion in American history, this course illuminates how property-holding by religious institutions preserves their liberty. It soon becomes clear that efforts to weaken church property rights should be seen as threats to religious liberty.


Recommended Readings

James W. Ely, The Guardian of Every Other Right: The Constitutional History of Property Rights (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992)

Adam J. MacLeod, Property and Practical Reason (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015)

Adam J. Maida and Nicholas P. Cafardi, Church Property, Church Finances, and Church-Related Corporations: A Canon Law Handbook (St. Louis, MO: Catholic Health Association, 1984)

Thomas A. Szyszkiewicz, “Who Owns the Church?” Catholic World Report (October 2005),

John Witte Jr. and Joel A. Nichols, Religion and the American Constitutional Experiment (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016)

Course Years: