Fighting for the Debtor's Soul: Regulating Religious Commercial Conduct
Michael A. Helfand
Pepperdine University School of Law
November 15, 2011
George Mason Law Review, Vol. 19, No. 1, 2011
Pepperdine University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2011/6
While courts often think of religion in terms of faith, prayer, and conscience, many religious groups are increasingly looking to religion as a source of law, commerce, and contract. As a result, courts are being called upon to apply the church autonomy doctrine – which bars courts from reviewing matters of faith, doctrine, and church governance – where commercial conduct is religiously motivated. In this Article, I consider an example of the challenges faced by courts when trying to interpret and regulated religious commerical conduct: the constitutionality of imposing sanctions for violating the Bankruptcy Code’s automatic stay by submitting a dispute for religious arbitration. In considering this example, I suggest that courts, instead of trying to take religion out of the equation, need to develop an increasingly sophisticated understanding of the religious dynamics of a case to know when they can – and cannot – review and regulate the conduct in question.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 40
Keywords: Church Autonomy, Religious Arbitration, Shunning, Establishment Clause, Automatic Stay
JEL Classification: K00, K40
Date posted: November 2, 2010 ; Last revised: November 15, 2011
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