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At its core, the idea of for-profit companies reflecting religious scruples in business in a “church-like” fashion might sound a bit odd to European ears. Yet in the United States, where Christian evangelicalism has had a (not so invisible) hand in shaping corporate culture, a growing body of USSC case law is now supporting the doctrinal and theoretical possibility of extending immunities traditionally confined to churches to “faith-based” companies. Challenging the terms of the contemporary debate, the argument here is that a similar “business turn” is also happening within the EU Single Market, where this time it is “neutrality-based” companies that benefit from religious immunities to advance their mission and shareholders’ appetites. Seen in this way, churches, but also, say, the Belgian branch of a secular provider of global logistics services, are nothing more than complementary instances of the same legal phenomenon of corporate religious freedom. At its core, this argument is anything but a theoretical exercise. Rather, and perhaps counterintuitively, it is precisely in treating utterly secular companies as FoRB claimants that employees can find brand new ammunition in their quest for proportionality vis-à-vis “neutral” employers, as my book, Business, Religion and the Law, attempts to explain.

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Freedom of religion or belief is the oldest of the internationally protected human rights. Historically, it is the grandparent of many of the other fundamental rights in the modern human rights pantheon. It emerged from the crucible of the wars of religion at the dawn of modernity. At the beginning of the republic in the United States, it was still an experimental principal. No prior society had been explicitly built on the foundation of religious liberty. Though no longer experimental, it remains a paradoxical and counterintuitive right because it commits those who live by its precepts to recognize the rights of those who adopt different and even radically opposed worldviews. But it has emerged as the most powerful tool we have for organizing and stabilizing genuinely pluralistic societies. Our other fundamental rights—freedom of expression, freedom of association, freedom from discrimination, and freedom from want and fear—are ultimately based on this principle. In brief, freedom of religion or belief is historically foundational, and we neglect it at our peril.

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This is the theme: Ukraine’s relative freedom and openness and governmental weakness (especially as compared to Russia) since Soviet collapse in 1991 has created a busy hive of voluntary civic activity—especially religious activity—that likely will outlast the invasion forces. The nature and intensity of that voluntary activity is unprecedented in that oft-occupied nation’s history. It has reorganized Ukrainian society away from its Soviet legacy, connected Ukrainians with free peoples and powerful institutions abroad, revived Ukraine’s spiritual and moral strength, and strengthened its resiliency against totalitarianism.

Now that 100+ days of full Russian invasion have followed 30 years of Ukrainian independence, what big picture emerges? The Russian bear has returned, reprising it role of centuries past as a shameless marauder, intent on destroying the Ukrainian hive. The bear’s mass and sharp claws can damage the physical hive—brutally, remorselessly—and grab gobs of honey. But the bee colony’s real strength has become its organization, adaptability, commitment, and teamwork. The bees can build, resist, and rebuild. (And yes, the Stingers have helped.)

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This is the theme: Ukraine’s relative freedom and openness and governmental weakness (especially as compared to Russia) since Soviet collapse in 1991 has created a busy hive of voluntary civic activity—especially religious activity—that likely will outlast the invasion forces. The nature and intensity of that voluntary activity is unprecedented in that oft-occupied nation’s history. It has reorganized Ukrainian society away from its Soviet legacy, connected Ukrainians with free peoples and powerful institutions abroad, revived Ukraine’s spiritual and moral strength, and strengthened its resiliency against totalitarianism.

Now that 100+ days of full Russian invasion have followed 30 years of Ukrainian independence, what big picture emerges? The Russian bear has returned, reprising it role of centuries past as a shameless marauder, intent on destroying the Ukrainian hive. The bear’s mass and sharp claws can damage the physical hive—brutally, remorselessly—and grab gobs of honey. But the bee colony’s real strength has become its organization, adaptability, commitment, and teamwork. The bees can build, resist, and rebuild. (And yes, the Stingers have helped.)

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Human Dignity Initiative

Celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with an invitation to a global conversation about preserving and protecting human dignity for everyone everywhere.

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