Following Christ and Making a Living, part 1: Some Notes about Corporations
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from


Stephen Kaufman, M.D., Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA)

Following Christ and Making a Living, part 1: Some Notes about Corporations 

Corporations are legal entities that have certain privileges and restrictions. Most exist for business purposes, and investors find corporations attractive in large part because of corporations’ limited liability. Unlike partnerships, in which partners can be personally liable for firm debts, those who invest in corporations can lose no more than the value of their investments. If the corporation becomes bankrupt, creditors cannot pursue the private property of shareholders in order to collect outstanding debts. There are many reasons that governments have allowed corporations to exist, and they include promotion of business and facilitation of taxation. In the United States, individual states incorporate all corporations, and in theory states have the right to supervise a corporation or even remove a corporation’s charter. Rarely are such things done.
A comment from the Supreme Court bench in the 1886 case Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad established corporations as persons protected by the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution. As a consequence, corporate persons enjoy the same rights under the Constitution as human persons, except that corporations do not have freedom of religion and do not vote. Corporations can sue for damages and be sued, and corporations can be charged with crimes.
A distinctive feature of corporations is that they are owned by shareholders, who can buy or trade shares of the corporations. Business corporations are run by boards of directors who are required by law to respect the desires of shareholders. Shareholders almost always want the corporations they own to be dedicated to financial gain. What kind of “person” does such a focus generate? We’ll explore this question next week. 

Go on to: Following Christ and Making a Living, part 2: The Soul of Corporations
Return to: Reflection on the Lectionary, Table of Contents 

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