51:1 The Naked Private Square

Abstract

In the latter half of the twentieth century, America witnessed the construction of a “wall of separation” between religion and the public square. What had once been commonplace (such as prayer in public schools and religious symbols on public property) had suddenly become verboten. This phenomenon is well known and has been well studied.

Less well known (and less well studied) has been the parallel phenomenon of religion’s expulsion from the private square. Employment law, corporate law, and constitutional law have worked to impede the ability of business enterprises to adopt, pursue, and maintain distinctively religious personae. This is undesirable because religious freedom does not truly and fully exist if religious expression and practice is restricted to the private quarters of one’s home or temple.

Fortunately, a correction to this situation exists: recognition of the right to free exercise of religion on the part of business corporations. Such a right has been long in the making, and the jurisprudential trajectory of the courts, combined with the increased assertion of this right against certain elements of the current regulatory environment, suggests that its recognition is imminent.