Corporations and Freedom of Religion: Australia and the United States Compared
Sydney Law Review, Vol. 38, No. 3, 2015
29 Pages Posted: 30 Sep 2015 Last revised: 7 Oct 2015
Date Written: September 29, 2015
Australian and United States courts have recently been faced with the question whether corporations may hold the right to freedom of religion. In Christian Youth Camps Ltd v Cobaw Community Health Services Ltd, the Victorian Court of Appeal concluded that a corporation could not rely on a religious exemption applicable to ‘persons’. In Burwell v Hobby Lobby Stores Inc, the United States Supreme Court held that two corporations were able to rely on statutory protection of religious freedom, also applicable to ‘persons’, to avoid an obligation to provide employees with certain contraceptives. In this article, we address the question whether corporations should be able to rely on the right to freedom of religion. We conclude that corporations should not be able to hold religious rights, although a limited group of religious corporations may sometimes be appropriate vehicles for bringing a claim on behalf of people whose religious freedom has been constrained.
Keywords: religious freedom, corporations, Australia, United States
JEL Classification: K00, K39
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation