Reconsidering Hostile Takeover of Religious Organizations


Several constitutional doctrines appear to be aimed at protecting against some forms of organizational transformation, particularly for religious organizations. Yet, courts applying those doctrines rarely ask some of the difficult questions underlying this concern for associational integrity. For example, when does organizational transformation constitute a “hostile takeover”? And why, exactly, is this form of transformation a cause for concern?

This Article aims to grapple with these difficult questions about the meaning of hostile takeover, as well as about whether the state should care about it—that is, whether the state should ever act either to prevent or to encourage hostile takeover. Part I of this Article attempts to define hostile takeover in the context of religious organizations and compares it to the concept of hostile takeover in some secular contexts. Part II then considers what the position of the state should be vis-à-vis hostile takeover of religious organizations. This Article ultimately concludes that the state has only a very limited interest in either the facilitation or the prevention of hostile takeover.


Hostile takeovers, Religious organizations, Freedom of association, First amendment, Religion clauses, State intervention, Secular voluntary associations



B. Jessie Hill (Case Western Reserve University School of Law)



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