The Catholic Church as a Business

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April 23, 2013 by Tamara Piety

(A meeting of the board of directors?)

I wrote in an earlier post about for-profit businesses claiming free-exercise First Amendment rights. Hobby Lobby and the Corporate “Soul”. These sorts of claims give rise to the question of whether businesses can add a dash of saving souls, or at least sancity, in with their special sauce; but in a recent New York Times article columnist Bill Keller turns this inquiry around by analyzing the problems of the Catholic church as if it were a global business. Catholicism, Inc. Presumably this piece was meant somewhat tongue-in-cheek to see what words of wisdom the marketing management and consulting community might offer if the Church were a business facing the retirement of a CEO and a major problem with brand and direction. It is a clever device. But much like Joel Bakan’s application of the DSM-IV to the corporate form to diagnose the corporation as a psychopath, see The Corporation, the problem may be that it cuts a little too close to the truth for comfort. Or at least it foregrounds questions like, “Are there valid distinctions to be drawn between for-profits businesses and no-profits, between the dissemination of promotional or persuasive speech to metaphorically “sell” and idea, political, artistic, religious and promotional or persuasive speech intended to literally sell a product or service for money?”

This post first appeared on The Faculty Lounge


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