Conflicted Judge Advocates In SC Religious Freedom Case

SUPREME COURT JUSTICE MUST RECUSE HERSELF FROM CONTROVERSIAL DECISION || By FITSNEWS || The Supreme Court of South Carolina heard oral arguments this month related to the Palmetto State’s ongoing “Episcopal Schism.”  This, of course, is the battle over religious liberty that was first uncovered by this website back in late 2012. Leading the fight?  “Rogue…


|| By FITSNEWS || The Supreme Court of South Carolina heard oral arguments this month related to the Palmetto State’s ongoing “Episcopal Schism.”  This, of course, is the battle over religious liberty that was first uncovered by this website back in late 2012.

Leading the fight?  “Rogue Bishop” Mark Lawrence of Charleston, S.C. – an 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.  In response to his excommunication, Lawrence announced his intention to disassociate South Carolina’s Lower Diocese from the national church – a threat he made good on.  Thus ensued a massive legal battle between the liberal national Episcopal Church (TEC) and Lawrence’s breakaway faction.

From the beginning of this fight, we’ve been on Lawrence’s side – a.k.a. the side of religious freedom.

“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,” we wrote at one point.

Also supporting the breakaway denomination’s right to religious freedom?  S.C. circuit court judge Diane Goodstein – who ruled back in February that those who left the national church were entitled to do so.

“With the freedom to associate goes its corollary, the freedom to disassociate,” Goodstein ruled.

Amen to that.


The litigious national church isn’t giving up, though, believing they have an ace in the hole as their appeal moves to the highest court in the Palmetto State.  Their trump card?  S.C. Supreme Court justice Kaye Hearn – a liberal Episcopalian who is deeply conflicted as it relates to this debate.

Hearn and her husband – former S.C. Rep. George Hearn – are members of St. Anne’s Episcopal Church in Conway, S.C., one of the congregations which was formed in the aftermath of the schism by leaders loyal to the liberal national church.  In fact George Hearn is a member of the parish’s vestry and mission committee.

Perhaps not surprisingly the vicar at St. Anne’s – Barry Stopfel – is openly gay. In addition to being the co-author of a book called Courage to Love, A Gay Priest Stands Up For His Beliefs, Stopfel’s online biography states that he is “currently working on a book about fathers and gay sons.” Prior to that, his bio states that he was a “guest lecturer at colleges and universities on religion and social justice and the Bible and human sexuality with a focus on LGBT Christians.”

Good for him …

Seriously, we’ve got no problem with any of that.  If a majority of Stopfel’s parishioners approve of his lifestyle – and his teachings on homosexuality – more power to them.  They are entitled to worship as they see fit.

And no one should compel them to worship otherwise … (thus our views on government and marriage).

Our beef?  The fact that one of Stopfel’s parishioners is a Supreme Court justice seeking to deny others the same right. Not only that, Hearn is evidencing what one attorney referred to as an “absolutely clear bias” in this case.

Hearn’s bias is detailed in this blog post which contains excerpts from this month’s hearing.  Confirming what the attorney told us, the blog’s author A.S. Haley accuses Hearn of making “advocacy speeches” on behalf of the liberal national church – speeches which were “scarcely proper for a sitting justice to make in a case presented for decision before an impartial court.”

“This was truly a disgraceful performance and display of impropriety by one of the country’s highest sitting judges,” Haley wrote.

Having read the transcripts, we concur.  Based on what we read, Hearn isn’t trying to impartially judge this case, she’s clearly advocating on behalf of one of the parties – repeatedly injecting herself into the debate in support of the liberal national church.

Not surprisingly, those loyal to the liberal church were thrilled by her advocacy.


“I was gratified by the experience in the courtroom today,” liberal Bishop Charles G. vonRosenburg said after the deliberations were complete.

This is not the way cases are supposed to be decided.  In fact there are laws designed to prevent precisely these sorts of conflicts from improperly influencing judicial debate.

“A judge shall not, in the performance of judicial duties, by words or conduct manifest bias or prejudice, including but not limited to bias or prejudice based upon race, sex, religion, national origin, disability or age,” one of the canons states.

Beyond the religious bias, the canon also requires judge to disqualify themselves in the event there is “a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party” in the case.

Why is that relevant?  Well, Hearn isn’t just a member of a church with a direct stake in the outcome of this debate – she and her husband are also signatory members of the Episcopal Forum of South Carolina, a group of liberal Episcopalians.  Not only does this group pledge its allegiance to the national church – it pushed for disciplinary action against Bishop Lawrence in the aftermath of the schism.

Whatever one thinks of the merits of this case, this is as cut-and-dried an example of improper judicial bias as we have ever seen.

Kaye Hearn has no right to sit in judgment over this schism, period.  She must recuse herself immediately.


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Liberalism is your religion September 28, 2015 at 11:35 am

Mark Lawrence is NOT a “Rogue Bishop” you fucking idiot. He is solid and stable with The Truth. But it does not surprise me you muffed it.

The Homosexual-controlled “Church” has gone rogue, away from the Bible and God’s doctrine.

The fact you whiffed does not surprise me..and it defines EXACTLY who, and what, you are. Thank you for being so overt about it. It makes explaining it easier.

Choices? September 28, 2015 at 11:38 am

Why not use the nchuckler profile for this article, BigT/pogo/emily?

nchuckler September 28, 2015 at 12:05 pm

You are correct.Dr.Ben Carson explained that the radical Homosexual movement and secular humanist Christ haters know by stripping the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman out of the Bible and God’s doctrine, that they are on their way to eliminating the Bible and Christian worship.

Grand Wazoo Tango September 28, 2015 at 4:15 pm

Ben Carson is an ignorant fuck and so are you. Where in the name of fucking Christ is anyone eliminating the Bible or Christian worship. Oh, that’s right, you and Ben want nothing more than to create the Christian version of “Sharia Law”.

Seriously? September 28, 2015 at 11:37 am

This isn’t about ‘beliefs’, this is about land and properties going to Diocies in Africa.
Nothing to do with ‘religious freedom’ or ‘gay rights’.
Like everything related to religion, it’s really about money and control.

mamatiger92 September 28, 2015 at 11:39 am

You stole my thunder.

nchuckler September 28, 2015 at 12:06 pm

God you are stupid.Can you EVER express an opinion yourself.
Ditto.This. :)

mamatiger92 September 28, 2015 at 12:11 pm

Says the king of the cut & paste.

nchuckler September 28, 2015 at 12:14 pm

You prove once again you are clueless and lack the ability to think.

Choices? September 28, 2015 at 1:04 pm

You often cut and paste ridiculous comments under multiple profiles. How much you wanna bet this turd is doing this on comments sections all over the ‘net? Since his blog couldn’t gain a single regular reader.

Everywhere 24/7/365 September 28, 2015 at 2:52 pm

Would not surprise me one iota since food stamps and medicaid subsidizes his “career” here as FITSNews troll.

The Colonel September 28, 2015 at 12:26 pm

Don’t know that “…every thing related to religion. [is] .about money and control…” but wholeheartedly agree that in this case it is.

Should the judge (or the appeals court after this probably preordained farce is finished) rule in favor of the breakaway diocese you can expect to see this begin on a national scale in many of the hierarchical churches that have “chosen a more liberal path” at the national level.

Seriously? September 28, 2015 at 1:06 pm

Religion is mostly about control. Money just comes with tge control. Don’t be so naive.

The Colonel September 28, 2015 at 1:23 pm

Religion is mostly about self control – or you’re doing it wrong.

Seriously? September 28, 2015 at 2:07 pm

You’ve been trained well. Fear keeps you in control. Following orders must be your thing. You are a good ‘child of god’.

The Colonel September 28, 2015 at 2:19 pm

Why does my faith threaten your lack of faith?

Meaningless Faith September 28, 2015 at 2:49 pm

Faith drives people to do stupid things and support stupid policies. People were clamoring about faith when defending slavery, segregation, marriage bans, prohibition, and a good amount of other things. It also sways a large number of votes towards politicians who can name drop Jesus half a million times and not actually have to show why they are the best man for the job.

There are also many different megachurches with millionaire pastors who are more interested in upgrading their mansions than they are helping the homeless, not to mention whatever disgusting behaviors some of them engage in behind closed doors. I guess you could say if the people willingly allowed those kinds of churches to fleece them that’s their problem, but it still reeks of unethical bullshit.

Of course the standard defense is eternal damnation for anyone who questions, so most followers are under tremendous pressure to stay mum on it.

Victorious Secret September 28, 2015 at 3:05 pm

Welcome back Max! We’ve missed you. Time to put a smile on that face?

The Colonel September 28, 2015 at 4:46 pm

Hmmm, I’m wondering what stupid thing my faith has driven me to do…

Let’s see:

Treat others as I would like to be treated – no, sound’s completely reasonable to me

Care for others in need – no, that seems like a good idea as well

Ascribe to the idea that there is a moral code set in place by someone (God) with a vastly greater grasp than I have – well, that seems a little dangerous, didn’t God order the Israeli’s to crush their enemies? Yes he did – knowing that if he didn’t the Israelis would adopt their customs – the very thing that destroyed the Roman Empire (Oh, and the Israelis eventually as well)

Wait, is he still telling us to wipe out whole races? Nope, a new doctrine was laid out that asks us to live in a unique way, to exhibit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Wait, that’s crazy – nah, not so much.

Have people perverted the doctrine – absolutely, the Inquisition, the Crusades are both good examples of that.

So maybe it’s best that we stay away from religion then right? Hmmm, Hitler was an atheist as was Stalin, Lenin, Mao and Pol Pot. Maybe we just need to stick with “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” and live in a spirit of “…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control…”

I will grant you that many people do things in the name of religion that are beyond despicable but I would suggest that those living in the fruit of the Spirit have done far more good than harm.

Just Sayin' September 28, 2015 at 5:32 pm

Well, I’m a just guy who doesn’t need a God to treat others as I would like to be treated.

The Colonel September 28, 2015 at 5:37 pm

Why bother? If there is no consequence or requirement, why not do what you want? I’m not talking about murder here, just normal run-of-the-mill kindness type behavior.

Just Sayin' September 28, 2015 at 6:28 pm

I believe in lifting up people since we’re all here together. Funny people assume Atheist are amoral. You’re a smart enough guy but in case you’ve forgotten:

“The philosophy or life stance of secular humanism (alternatively known by some adherents as Humanism, specifically with a capital H to distinguish it from other forms of humanism) embraces human reason, ethics, and philosophical naturalism while specifically rejecting religious dogma, supernaturalism, pseudoscience, and superstition as the basis of morality and decision making.

Secular humanism posits that human beings are capable of being ethical and moral without religion or a god. It does not, however, assume that humans are either inherently evil or innately good, nor does it present humans as being superior to nature. Rather, the humanist life stance emphasizes the unique responsibility facing humanity and the ethical consequences of human decisions. Fundamental to the concept of secular humanism is the strongly held viewpoint that ideology—be it religious or political—must be thoroughly examined by each individual and not simply accepted or rejected on faith. Along with this, an essential part of secular humanism is a continually adapting search for truth, primarily through science and philosophy. Many Humanists derive their moral codes from a philosophy of utilitarianism, ethical naturalism, or evolutionary ethics, and some, such as Sam Harris, advocate a science of morality.”

The Colonel September 28, 2015 at 11:09 pm

Well familiar with secular Humanist dogma. I have several atheist / agnostic friends who lead very moral lives and more self proclaimed “spiritual” friends who are are best poor examples of their various religious faiths (this is exercising discernment, not judgement).

One of my disagreements with SHs is the whole idea of parity with nature. When was the last time a orangutan contributed to the welfare of others? I believe in the sanctity of human life, rejecting abortion as akin to murder.

My major issue is with the denial of a deity. I see the need for a Creator of creation in the simplest and most complex manifestation of life and our universe’s systems. What was there before there was a there. There must be a “point zero” in our history – how did the universe begin?

One of the flaws in “The Big Bang” (first postulated by a Catholic Priest named Lemaitre) is that the universe has continued to expand in violation of the second law of thermodynamics and our general understanding of the effects of gravity – scientist hand wave the problem by saying it does not necessarily apply to the the universe at large scale. Evolution also has a significant problem that gets a similar hand wave. Entropy suggests that things become less organized, not more, as time elapses. As more and more holes are discovered in general relativity and the big bang becomes less sure we fall back to the most basic of questions – where did the matter and energy that exist in our universe come from? Lots of hand wave theories out there, some are even beginning to approach coherence, but none answer that question.

Is it possible to live a “moral life” without a definitive moral code? Sure, you are apparently doing so but what happens when my coffee disagrees with your code? Maybe one of us thinks pedophilia is okay while the other believes one should be sixteen to give consent – who wins? According to SH, my opinion is just as, valid as yours and assuming no one is hurt blah blah blah. Who defines the harm?

I’ve way over simplified very complex ideas here.

Seriously? September 28, 2015 at 3:11 pm

Your lack of reason makes me chuckle.

Toyota Kawaski September 29, 2015 at 9:44 pm

Smoking or Nonsmoking Miss?
Hope the teeth are long as well.

Mary September 29, 2015 at 1:39 pm

Maybe your religion is about self control, but the Christian Religion is mostly about loving your neighbor and helping others less fortunate than you in the name of Christ. So if you are a Christian, you are doing it wrong.

The Colonel September 29, 2015 at 2:03 pm

Most assuredly a Christian, my point above is in direct reference to “Seriously’s” point about religion being about control – if you read any of the rest of what I wrote below, you’ll get the doctrine and apologetics you are looking for.

Mary September 29, 2015 at 1:35 pm

Liberal path? This from a member of a denomination which, as best I can tell, believes you can do or not do anything you want, so long as you show up on Sunday and pray for forgiveness. That is about as liberal as it gets, by historical standards.

The prayer of the Baptists.

Dear lord forgive me. You were stranger and I turned you away. You were naked and I did not clothe you. You were sick and I did not comfort you. You were imprisoned, and I said thank god you are off the street. But I have reasons. I needed a new car; my wife needed new clothes, my children needed a new computer game and Ipad; we had a family vacation to pay for; club dues were up, etc.

See you next week, same time same prayer.

The Colonel September 29, 2015 at 2:20 pm

Wow – I’d love to know what Baptist church you’ve been attending. Perhaps “The First Baptist Church of You Made It Up”?

My Baptist church had 600 members out last Friday and Saturday working in the community. My little band of carpenters reroofed part of a building and painted a community hall. Others worked to clean up local schools, fed first responders, worked with Juvenile Justice and did other projects all over the city. We’ve been doing this for years. We sponsor church in Charleston and Chicago and have ongoing missions year round.

Slartibartfast September 28, 2015 at 8:37 pm

It’s about both. But no-one is giving land or properties to anyone, no matter what 815 may have told you. The South Carolina diocese and its missionary diocese are far older than any national gathering. I don’t give a fig about who’s gay. I care that TEC has become an advocate for socialism disguised as “caring.”

Bingo Bob September 28, 2015 at 11:54 am

“With the freedom to associate goes its corollary, the freedom to disassociate.” Well put. Who can argue with that?? Why there is any appeal of a decision based on this holding beats me, except for purely harrassment, punitive, personal and vexatious purposes. Courts need to be above this type of thing. . . . . .

Curious George September 28, 2015 at 2:54 pm

Is there a way I can “disassociate” from my bank so that I get to keep my house without making my mortgage payments anymore? It sounds like this disassociate thing is a great way to get free property.

SCBluCatLady September 28, 2015 at 9:52 pm

Sorry, no.

SCBluCatLady September 28, 2015 at 9:51 pm

Bingo Bob, TECSC has the ability and a right to appeal the lower court’s decision which they did. It looks particularly bad that one of their members who is a supreme court justice did *not* recuse herself. It is simply to draw out the process and force the diocese to spend more money on this case.

erneba September 28, 2015 at 12:08 pm

It appears the national church has chosen to go in a certain direction that has probably resulted in the schism within the church. Where is the national church’s tolerance for people with a different opinion on certain issues. Not being a religious person, it would appear that this may be violating some religious concept. On the other hand, some see the local church’s decision not to abide by every edict passed down by the National church.
This is clearly an issue NOT to be decided in a court, these people, both sides, need to seek a resolution within the confines of their religion.

nchuckler September 28, 2015 at 1:05 pm

Excellent advice.

Seriously? September 28, 2015 at 1:09 pm

This matter is strictly about the national Episcopalians not wanting to lose their valuable property and land around Georgetown county, etc. to the diocies in Africa, who the breakaway conservatives have aligned with.

SCBluCatLady September 28, 2015 at 9:48 pm

Seriously? Sorry, but I fail to understand how any properties owned by the parishes in the Diocese of South Carolina will be *lost* to Africa?And on what information do you base this opinion? Please explain! This case is about property. TEC has tried very hard to make it about religious freedom…. in particular *their* religious freedom despite what the many deeds and other documents of property ownership may tell anyone who bothers to check them.

SCBluCatLady September 28, 2015 at 9:56 pm

The Diocese of SC is much larger than just Georgetown County!

nchuckler September 28, 2015 at 12:15 pm

Was this Kaye Hearn a family court judge at one time?

Duh? September 28, 2015 at 1:10 pm

Weren’t you GrandTango/Emily Peterkin/pogo/BigT at one time?

Dr. Oz September 28, 2015 at 2:55 pm

He’s had more sex changes than the population of California has.

SCBluCatLady September 28, 2015 at 9:55 pm

I believe she was. Take a look at her bio on the SC Supreme Court website.

We Laugh, But Dont Play. September 28, 2015 at 1:12 pm

She can remove herself or deal with 1000s of complaints to the JMSC and national attention. The choice is hers and Jeal “Drunk” Toal.

Doris September 28, 2015 at 3:28 pm

Toal is drunk with her real addiction – Political Power. She is also playing politics with this case. She told Diane Goodstein what to do and now must defend that decision. Toal is promising everybody and their brother – Kittredge, Beatty and Hearn – she is going to support each of them – if they just continue to do as she says for the remainder of her reign. She has Alan Wilson and Bill Nettles in her back pockets so she is no longer concerned about the alleged investigations.

Toal has made this case a real mess, not to mention mockery of the South Carolina Judicial Branch of Government.

SCBluCatLady September 28, 2015 at 9:55 pm

Ummm Justice Toal has nothing wrong. It is Justice Kaye Hearn who did not recuse herself and let it be known at the hearing how biased she actually is. It was known before hand where Hearn was a member. She just did not bother to recuse herself. That in itself could be considered a violation of the SC Code of Judicial Ethics.

Bible Thumper September 28, 2015 at 1:45 pm

Ben Carson thinks a Muslim is not qualified to be a Bishop of the Episcopal Church. How outrageous.

9" September 28, 2015 at 4:48 pm

Atheists don’t fly planes into buildings…

Just Me September 28, 2015 at 9:30 pm

No. Atheists want to feign outrage because believers want to post in a public space a reminder that people should not kill or steal. Atheists twist the meaning of the constitution to force their will on others who believe in a God. Atheists want to remove the moral code that has guided men for thousands of years so that good and evil is a fluid concept that can be changed by those controlling the narrative.

Atheists will destroy this country. Atheists are working with with those who want to spend other peoples money to secure the votes they need to maintain control. Which would be considered stealing except the Atheists forced the removal of the moral code.

Do you see what is happening here?

Samuel 8:15 September 28, 2015 at 4:50 pm

Jesus love’s government ruling over his church.

Lone Ranger September 28, 2015 at 5:42 pm

Kaye Hearn will burn with OTHER blaspheming LGBTs who deign
to “fix” what they say is “broken”

But hey…don ‘t take the word of this humble sinner…these are
The Words that God Almighty has spoken !!!

ExiledAnglican September 28, 2015 at 7:37 pm

No Anglican jurist of any stripe should be involved in hearing this case!

Frieda September 28, 2015 at 10:34 pm

Don’t confuse Kaye Hearn with being fair, impartial or judicious. She is a judicial bully who will come to rival the current chief if allowed. Just give her time. Somebody needs to start making a record.

Jan September 29, 2015 at 2:20 am

You have no clue what you are talking about. Almost every thing in this article is wrong. If Hearn has to recuse herself because she is Episcopalean, what about Catholic Judges on abortion and gay rights. Scalia for example.

There is no freedom of religion issue here. No one is being told they can’t leave the church. The church is simply arguing they should not be allowed to take the things other Episcopaleans paid for with them.

Toyota Kawaski September 29, 2015 at 9:38 pm

shut up on something you know nothing about. U would be the first person to not be welcome at my Episcopal church.


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