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The connection between property rights and religious freedom

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According to Founding Father James Madison, “the rights of persons and the rights of property” constituted the “two cardinal objects of government.” And the “most sacred form of property,” according to Madison, was an individual’s conscience since “other property depending in part on positive law, the exercise of that, being a natural and inalienable right . . .”

Both property and conscience (religious freedom) have been considered foundational rights. But what exactly do they have in common? More than we may assume, argues John J. Infranca in a law review article titled “(Communal) Life, (Religious) Liberty, And Property.”

In the abstract of the paper, Infranca states,

Property rights and religious liberty seem to share little in common. Yet surprisingly similar claims have long been made on their behalf, including bold assertions that each of these two rights uniquely limits the power of the state and serves as the foundation for other rights. This Article reframes the conception of property rights and religious liberty as foundational by foregrounding communitarian aspects of each right. Property and religious freedom are a foundation for other rights, but in a different manner than traditional accounts suggest. It is not the individual exercise of these rights that provides a foundation for other rights, but rather the complementary roles these rights play in the formation of normative communities that, in turn, serve as counterweights to the state.

Read more . . .

(Via: Mirror of Justice)

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Joe Carter Joe Carter is a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute. Joe also serves as an editor at the The Gospel Coalition, a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. He is the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible and co-author of How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator (Crossway).

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