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In “Corporate Capitalism and ‘The City of God,’” Adolf Berle references Augustine’s theological classic The City of God in service of his contention that corporate managers have a social responsibility. In this Article, I turn to another work by Augustine, The Trinity, for insights into another feature the corporation, corporate personhood. The Trinity explicates the Christian belief that God is both three and one. I argue that corporations have analogously Trinitarian qualities. Much as theologically orthodox Christians understand God to be both one and three, I argue that corporations are best seen as both a single entity and through the lens of their individual managers and shareholders. Part I explores the debate over corporate personhood that was prompted by the Citizen United and Hobby Lobby cases. Part II develops the Trinitarian account of the corporation. After outlining the Trinitarian perspective on corporate personhood, Part III explores its implications for a variety of issues, including the personhood of “closely held” corporations, whether noncorporate entities have personhood, and whether a corporation can have a religious identity. The final section returns to Berle to discuss the current debate over corporate political involvement.


Corporate personhood, stakeholder governance, theory of the firm, Augustine, De Trinitate, law & religion, First Amendment, free exercise clause, religious identity, Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., Citizens United v. Fed. Election Comm’n

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Seattle University Law Review

Publication Citation

44 Seattle U. L. Rev. 155 (2021)