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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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Lawyers for The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia challenged the constitutionality of a 141-year-old Virginia statute that grants congregations control over local church property in the event of a denominational split in Fairfax County Circuit Court on May 28. They also claimed the law discriminates against hierarchical denominations in favor of congregational ones.
The statute was in turn defended by a representative of the Virginia Attorney General’s Office and lawyers representing 11 departed congregations, who pointed out that the issue could have been avoided if the diocese had broken with its custom of placing title to parish property with the elected leadership of the local congregation.
Last month, Judge Randy Bellows ruled that a division within The Episcopal Church had occurred and that the statute was applicable in the case of the 11 congregations which have subsequently affiliated with the Anglican Church of Nigeria as the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA). The hearing was to determine whether Virginia Statute 59-7 was a constitutionally prohibited government intrusion into the internal working of a religious denomination.
At one point Judge Bellows noted that the diocese already has specific title to 29 plots of land and questioned the lead lawyer for the Diocese of Virginia why it had not required title of all church property to be held directly in the name of the diocese.
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