CategoriesContract LawProperty Law
When religious institutions alienate property, they often include religiously motivated deed restrictions that bind future owners, sometimes in perpetuity. These “religious covenants” serve different purposes and advance different goals. Some prohibit land uses that the alienating faith communities consider illicit; others seek to ensure continuity of faith commitments; still, others signal public disaffiliation with the new owners and their successors. Some religious covenants are required by theological mandates, but many are not. This Article examines the phenomenon of religious covenants as both a private law and public law problem. This Article concludes that most, but not all, of the religious covenants are likely enforceable, and furthermore, that traditional private law rules governing covenant enforcement represent a bigger impediment to their enforcement than public law principles.