MacLochlainn, “Of Congregations and Corporations”

MacLochlainn, Scott. (2019) “Of Congregations and Corporations: Schism, Transcendence, and the Religious Incorporate in the Philippines.” Anthropological Quarterly. 92(4): 1039-1068.

Abstract: This article describes how, amidst Christian schism in the Philippines, the corporate form emerges as a central facet through which religious communities come to be understood. Centered on the legal fallout of a schism in the United Methodist Church in the Philippines that began in 2011, the article discusses how the schism foregrounded the necessary legal identities of religious groups in the Philippines as corporations. Having inherited the corporate model of religious organization from the United States’ colonial administration in the early 20th century, the legal configuration of the religious corporation is often at odds with how Christian actors themselves understand the divinely informed nature of the congregation. While such legal processes are undertaken to resolve matters of property ownership and church finances, they also reveal how legal bureaucratic regimes are involved in conceptualizing, abstracting, and circulating particular communal forms of subjectivity.