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5.3: The Role of Faith in Cooperative Development

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  • Religious neutrality has been a hallmark of cooperative principles regarding membership. Despite that, various faith-based organizations have played key roles in several countries with the development of cooperatives and mutuals. For example, the Catholic Worker Movement helped form manufacturing type worker cooperatives in the greater Mondragón region in Spain. Similarly, in the Emilia-Romagna region in Italy, the Catholic Worker Movement helped form a broad collection of consumer cooperatives engaged in various retail businesses. The Knights of Columbus is based in Catholic parishes and provides a strong set of community-based volunteer efforts. Thrivent Financial was formerly a fraternal benefit mutual insurance with membership limited to Lutherans. It has since broadened its membership to a broader set of Christians and is active in community volunteerism, especially Habitat for Humanity.