WEBINAR: Churches: An Existence of their own or Creatures of the Sovereign?



Profs. Adam MacLeod and Robert Miller analyze how natural law explains the purpose limits of legal fictions like corporations and trusts.



The James Wilson Institute and First Liberty Institute's Center for Religion, Culture & Democracy invite you to join us for a webinar analyzing the practical applications of moral reasoning in our legal system. This interactive webinar will feature a discussion between the two teachers and a time for interactive Q&A.

Last year, the Texas Supreme Court handed down a decision in The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth v. The Episcopal Church, a case implicating an old question with widespread contemporary implications for corporations law, property and trust law, religious liberty, and freedom of association. At bottom, the question, in the words of an earlier jurist, is whether churches and other societies of people “have an existence of their own or are the mere creatures of the sovereign." That question lies hidden at the heart of many contemporary legal and political questions, including debates over corporate social responsibility, religious liberty, the security of property rights, and freedom of conscience. MacLeod will present evidence that legal artifacts such as corporations and trusts exist to protect and to sustain groups and associations. Those groups have real lives and agency. Their existence is not contingent on positive law nor any grant of privilege from the sovereign.


Adam MacLeod

Professor of Law at Faulkner University, Thomas Goode Jones School of Law, and a Research Fellow for the Center for Religion, Culture & Democracy

Robert Miller

Professor of Law at the University of Iowa and a Fellow and Program Affiliated Scholar at the Classical Liberal Institute at New York University Law School

Moderated by

Hadley Arkes

Founder and Director of the James Wilson Institute and the Edward N. Ney Professor of Jurisprudence Emeritus at Amherst College