February 02, 2005

Religious Turf Wars In The Old Dominion?

There is a bill currently working its way through the Virginia Assembly, Senate Bill 1305, that purports to amend the law regarding the determination of property rights upon the division of a church, diocese or society.

All local parish property of the Episcopal Church in Virginia ultimately is held in trust by the Diocese itself. This bill, if passed, would allow local parishes - should they secede from the Diocese - to take their property with them. The WaPo has a small piece about this today.

The Episcopal Church only recently realized what was going on and in rapidly mobilizing to fight it. My own assistant deacon was poo-pooing the bill at a meeting Monday evening. Of course, this is an example of the continued fallout over the ordination of Bishop Robinson at General Convention in 2003. A fair number of parishes in Virginia are still seething over that action and the decision of Bishop Lee to support it.

I haven't digested all the legal ramifications yet, but part of me is tickled that the Church is being made to jump. I felt the whole Robinson business was handled very poorly and those who continue to be opposed are now getting the full "get over it" treatment. A threat to hit the Diocese where it hurts, even if it doesn't pass, may just garner a more respectful hearing for the dissenting faction.

UPDATE: (Thursday) The scuttlebutt I heard at Church last evening is now that the, er, anti-anti-disestablishmentarians have powered up, the bill is pretty much doomed.

Posted by Robert at February 2, 2005 06:06 PM

Summon me a battalion of Roundheads; we must march on Richmond.

Posted by: The Colossus at February 2, 2005 07:56 PM

Oooh, more antidisestablishmentarianism; or is it just disestablishmentarianism. It can't be establishmentariansim.

Posted by: Robert at February 2, 2005 08:00 PM

the dioceses understood in 97 that they only held the trust for some odd tax/indeterminate benefit reason; how quickly it's become a cudgel to usher people into Griswold's new church order. many people who pay the bills and built the churches are going to find themselves out in the cold because they choose scripture over humanism, and the government that stepped in to support federal law over church law in so many "employment" cases is going to throw it back to the diocese. I wonder who will fill all those empty churches in the years to come.

Posted by: tee bee at February 3, 2005 09:48 AM

Sorry to hear that you're in the middle of the decomposition of the Episcopalian Church. The problem is that the liberals don't want to become a dying North American Church and the vast majority of the Anglican Communion think they're apostates.

I would expect that the fundamental issue is one of fraud. If a donation is made to a local church with a reasonable expectation that if a schism occurs they'll be able to walk with the local church share of the material goods and that's not the case, the bishops are committing fraud.

Posted by: TM Lutas at February 3, 2005 11:03 AM
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