Conservative Breakaway Episcopal Diocese Has Right to $500 Million Worth of Church Property, Over 100 Clergy Argue in Brief

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(Photo: Jim Lewis of SC Diocese)The office for the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, whose leadership decided to leave The Episcopal Church in 2012.

More than 100 clergy have signed on to an amicus brief in favor of a conservative breakaway Episcopal diocese’s claim to approximately $500 million worth of property.

In August, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled against the Diocese of South Carolina in its effort to secure ownership of church property. The court concluded that the property belonged to the denomination, The Episcopal Church.

Filed last Friday, the amicus brief asks the court to grant the breakaway diocese’s request for a rehearing, arguing that the August ruling contradicted longstanding legal precedent.

“The Court’s decision improperly entangles civil courts in forbidden questions of ‘religious doctrine, polity, and practice’ (id. at 603) by making property rights turn on the court’s interpretation of internal church issues,” said the brief.

“In so doing, the decision misreads U.S. Supreme Court precedent and conflicts with the decisions of other courts that have considered similar issues.”

Clergy who have signed on to the brief come from varied denominational backgrounds, including Baptists, the United Methodist Church, Presbyterian Church in America,…

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