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Breakaway SC Episcopal Church Wins Another Legal Battle




Chalk up another legal victory for South Carolina’s conservative breakaway Episcopalian church – and another defeat for the national Episcopalian Church (TEC) and its South Carolina affiliate (TECSC).

According to the website Anglican Ink, the S.C. Court of Appeals rejected an appeal filed by the national church aimed at delaying the case – which involves the right of conservative South Carolina congregations to “secede” from the increasingly liberal national Episcopalian Church.

Last month a Lowcountry circuit court judge rejected another legal maneuver attempted by the national church aimed an unnecessarily broadening the case.

“We are grateful that the court recognized that TEC and TECSC are misusing the judicial system to delay resolution of this case,” the Rev. Jim Lewis, Canon to the Ordinary of the Diocese told Anglican Ink. “Their strategy of using legal motions to delay court decisions caused eight months to be wasted when they asked the federal court to override the state court injunction. As in that matter, the courts sided with the Diocese of South Carolina.”

According to Anglican Ink, the national church “has a long history of dragging out legal battles, apparently in hopes of draining the resources of parishes and dioceses it seeks to punish for leaving the denomination.”

In fact the website estimates the national church has spent “more than $40 million on litigation in the past few years” in what it refers to as an effort to wear down and “intimidate parishes and dioceses that wish to leave the denomination.”

Good to see South Carolina’s court system is having none of that …

In late 2012, FITS broke the story of “rogue Bishop” Mark Lawrence of Charleston, S.C. – the Episcopal priest who was booted from the national church for refusing to adopt its views on gay marriage and the ordination of gay and female clergy.

As a result of the church’s action against him, Lawrence announced his intention to disassociate South Carolina’s Lower Diocese from the national church – a threat he made good on.

The schism has prompted a protracted legal battle – with Lawrence and other leaders of the breakaway diocese being accused of fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, trademark infringement and civil conspiracy, among other things. According to the national church the result of these alleged actions has been to “deprive Episcopalians loyal to the Episcopal Church of their property rights.”

The South Carolina suit is ground zero in the battle taking place all across the country between socially liberal and socially conservative congregations in multiple protestant denominations.

As we have stated from the beginning of this process, we believe individual congregations should be allowed to worship as they see fit – associating or disassociating with national denominations as they wish.  If a simple majority of a church’s members determines it wishes to enter or leave a specific denomination – then it should be permitted to do so.

As for the underlying social issues, click HERE to read our thoughts on those …