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Amicus Brief Filed By Religious Leaders in Support of the Diocese of South Carolina

Statement by the Rev. Canon Jim Lewis:   

“Friday’s brief illustrates well two essential problems with the current ruling of the Court. Because there is no legal consensus among the Justices, the ruling as it stands is, as stated in the brief, a “recipe for endless litigation.” As a consequence of misapplying neutral principles of law as intended by the U.S. Supreme Court, it violates rather than preserves, the First Amendment protections of religious liberty they are meant to ensure. Resolving these significant issues merits rehearing by the Court.”

The Diocese also provided the following list of additional details from Friday’s filed Brief:

  • “For over 300 years, since before the Founding of this Nation, members of the Respondent’s congregations contributed land, money and labor in reliance on settled South Carolina law – only to have this Court divest them of their property based on a canon unilaterally adopted centuries later by a national denomination. This outcome was possible only because the Court fashioned a new rule of law solely for this case, and this denomination. But that rule of law departs from this court’s precedents and imposes special burdens on religious associations relative to secular ones. Those burdens violate the First Amendment.” [p. 1]
  • Amici believe strongly that churches freely associated with each other can also freely choose to disassociate. And the exercise of that freedom should not come at the price of the tools for ministry established by local sacrifice… ” [p. 4]
  • “… the Court’s fractured decision leaves church property law in this state in utter confusion…. This confusion is a recipe for endless litigation.” [p. 2]
  • The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Jones vs. Wolf established the use of neutral principles of law to settle church property disputes… “A court applying a neutral principles approach can only apply state law as it normally would; any other approach would be the opposite of neutral principles.” [p. 9]
  • As the Court has done in this case, “Giving legal effect to trusts declared in denominational documents is not even mere deference. It is giving denominations power to rewrite civil property law.” [p. 14] and that is in violation of the free exercise of religion.
  • “If that conception of “neutral principles” is correct, then no church can join a denomination without jeopardizing its property.” [p. 16]
  • “Any denomination could pass a retroactive internal rule that would appropriate congregants gifts and church property.” … “Without secure property ownership, many rounds of future litigation are inevitable.” [p. 18]
  • “If ownership no longer turns on publicly recorded deeds and trust instruments, but on the meaning of internal church rules and relationships, no one can know for certain who owns church property.” [p. 18]
  • “Moreover, the Court’s ruling could eviscerate otherwise clear titles” and harm “the rights of insurers and lenders” all with “not a single justice agreeing as to exactly how State title and property law apply in this dispute.” [p. 19]

Read it all and please take the time to read the full brief.

Posted in * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Katherine Jefferts Schori, Law & Legal Issues, Michael Curry, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Presiding Bishop, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

Mediation Update–Both the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina+the new Episcopal Church Diocese in SC announce its recessed until early December

Both “sides” involved have stated the mediation with Senior U.S. District Judge Joseph F. Anderson Jr. has been recessed until December 4-5, 2017.

Posted in * South Carolina, Ethics / Moral Theology, Katherine Jefferts Schori, Law & Legal Issues, Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

Diocese of South Carolina Rebuts Amici Brief Defending State Supreme Court Justice Hearn

The Code of Judicial Conduct still requires recusal.
 
COLUMBIA, S.C. (October 13, 2017) – Today the Diocese of South Carolina (Diocese) filed our Response, at the Court’s request, to the Amici brief submitted on behalf of Justice Kaye Hearn regarding her actions on the South Carolina Supreme Court in its recent ruling in Appellate Case No. 2015-000622.  Her opinion there provided the deciding vote to deprive at least 29 parish churches of their right to properties some have held for over 300 years. Similar to the previous filings on the issue of Justice Hearn’s recusal, 26 attorneys signed this response as well.

Statement by the Rev. Canon Jim Lewis:   

“An essential issue before the State Supreme Court in this matter is whether the Judicial Code of Conduct means what it says. If it does, Justice Hearn should and must be recused from any further participation in this case. At a minimum, she should have no part in the Court’s decision whether to rehear this case. Further, if the Court is to defend the due process rights of the Diocese of South Carolina, we likewise believe it should vacate her existing opinion and grant a fresh hearing before a new bench of Justices that is untainted by her failure to recuse herself.”

Quotes from today’s filed Response:

+   Regarding Justice Hearn’s interest in the outcome, the amici brief “simply disregards the evidence provided with the Motion to Recuse.” [p. 4]

+   The Canons of the State Code of Judicial Conduct places “the determination regarding recusal and duty to disclose and recuse on the judge, not the parties.” [p. 8]

+   There are no grounds for Justices Hearn’s continued participation in this case. The amici brief itself makes “no argument that prospective recusal is unavailable and inappropriate in these circumstance.” [p. 10]

Conclusion: “Respectfully, Justice Hearn should recuse herself from hearing the Petition for Rehearing and the Court should vacate her opinion and appoint a Justice to hear the Petition. Failing that, the Court should vacate all of the opinions and order rehearing.” [p. 12]

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

A Summary of recent posts on the August 2 South Carolina Supreme Court Decision involving “five different, strongly-held opinions”

Careful blog readers should make sure there have read and understood them all. I have been asked why I have not linked to secular media reports or other stories, and the answer is I would be happy to if they were accurate but they have not been–KSH.

South Carolina Supreme Court on Diocese of South Carolina/TEC Diocese in SC Dispute Ruling is Out.

Diocese of SC Statement on the recent South Carolina Supreme Court Ruling.

AS Haley–Massive Conflict of Interest Taints South Carolina State Supreme Court Ruling.

South Carolina Bishop Lawrence Writes his Diocese Following the recent Supreme Court Ruling.

A Message from the Standing Committee of the Diocese of South Carolina.

Bishop Mark Lawrence of the Diocese of South Carolina Calls for a Day of Prayer+Fasting on August 30.

Diocese of South Carolina and 29 Parish Churches File Motion for Rehearing in State Supreme Court.

A S Haley–Faults in the South Carolina Supreme Court Decision Laid Bare (I).

A S Haley–Faults in the South Carolina Supreme Court Decision Laid Bare (II).

Jeff Miller–SC Supreme Court ruling against Diocese of South Carolina threatens religious freedom.

(The State) How a South Carolina Supreme Court decision threatens religious freedom.

The Historic Diocese of South Carolina responds to the New TEC Diocese’s Motion on the Rehearing.

The Diocese of South Carolina offers its Rebuttal of TEC Recusal and Rehearing Arguments.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, Theology, Uncategorized

(Wash Post) Erik Wemple–NYT’s (former Supreme Court Reporter) Linda Greenhouse boasts of monthly Planned Parenthood donations

Linda Greenhouse has nothing to hide with respect to her charitable activities. Writing in her new book “Just a Journalist: On the Press, Life and the Spaces Between,” the former New York Times reporter notes that she wasn’t content to allow Planned Parenthood to deduct a monthly contribution from her bank account. “It was important to me to write a check every month and sign my name,” writes Greenhouse, who is now a contributing op-ed writer for the same paper. “It was the signature of a citizen. The stories that appeared under my byline, on abortion and all other subjects, were the work of a journalist. If anyone ever thought those failed to measure up to professional standards, they never told me or anyone else.”

That’s one heck of an internal firewall. Skeptics of Greenhouse’s remarkable ethical divisibility are already speaking up. “Rather than meld her identities, she dons or sheds them whenever convenient,” writes Washington Post book critic Carlos Lozada.

The New York Times itself preaches caution when making donations. “Staff members should think carefully about their own contributions to various causes, bearing in mind the need for neutrality on divisive issues,” notes a September 2004 New York Times ethics guide. “Those in doubt about contributions should consult their supervisors and the standards editor or the deputy editorial page editor.”

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Media, Politics in General, Supreme Court

(PRC FactTank) Assaults against Muslims in U.S. surpass 2001 level

The number of assaults against Muslims in the United States rose significantly between 2015 and 2016, easily surpassing the modern peak reached in 2001, the year of the September 11 terrorist attacks, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of new hate crimes statistics from the FBI. In 2016, there were 127 reported victims of aggravated or simple assault, compared with 91 the year before and 93 in 2001.

But assaults are not the only form of hate crime carried out against Muslims and other religious groups. The most common is intimidation, which is defined as reasonable fear of bodily harm. Anti-Muslim intimidation also increased in 2016, with 144 reported victims, compared with 120 the previous year. These numbers, however, are still dwarfed by the 296 victims of anti-Muslim intimidation in 2001.

Certain types of crimes that damage or destroy property, including vandalism, also have risen, from 70 cases against Muslims in 2015 to 92 last year.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Islam, Religion & Culture, Violence

(WSJ) Lewis Andrews–Finding God on a Mars Colony–Could Renewed space exploration could spark humanity’s spiritual reawakening?

The prospect of colonizing Mars used to be no more than a distant fantasy, but today it seems tantalizingly real. NASA remains committed to building a deep-space passenger capsule called the Orion. Meantime, private companies like Blue Origin and SpaceX are bringing excitement to the field. Elon Musk hopes to put 200 colonists on the red planet by 2024.

Much of the discussion about space exploration focuses on its economic benefits. Someday there could be money made from mining precious metals in the asteroid belt or shuttling tourists to off-world vacations. Space colonization eventually could create a multiplanetary economy. But what may be even more profound is space travel’s spiritual effects.

Many astronauts have had religious experiences in space. Charlie Duke, who went to the moon with Apollo 16, was inspired to become a lay witness for Christ. Jim Irwin, a moon walker with Apollo 15, searched for Noah’s Ark after returning home. Gene Cernan, Edgar Mitchell and Rusty Schweickart have also been very public about the metaphysical effects of leaving the Earth. No doubt future astronauts will report similar awakenings.

Read it all.

Posted in Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

(Economist) What Buddhism teaches about peace and war

But it is in Myanmar where Buddhist violence has become most familiar of late. A monk called Ashin Wirathu has led demands for a harsh response to a perceived Muslim threat. His organisation, Ma Ba Tha, has supposedly been banned, but it still presses the authorities to take the hardest of lines against the Rohingya Muslims, of whom over 600,000 have been expelled to Bangladesh. Ma Ba Tha disseminates the idea that Myanmar’s overwhelming Buddhist majority is threatened by the Muslim minority. The stance is criticised by some Asian Buddhists. The Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, has rebuked his coreligionists for persecuting the Rohingya, saying they should “remember Buddha”. He insisted that the faith’s founder would “definitely help those poor Muslims”.

Like every other important religion in history, Buddhism engenders powerful protective feelings among its followers, especially when sacred history and national history become intertwined, as happens in Sri Lanka. In the collective memory of Sri Lankan Buddhists, the emergence of their nation is seen as linked with the advent of their faith in the era of King Ashoka, if not earlier. And whenever people feel a threat to their identity and origins, they can easily be induced to lash out with disproportionate force, just as medieval Christians marched to war when told that their faith’s holiest places in Jerusalem were being desecrated. Moreover, as with any vast corpus of sacred texts and annals, things can be found in the Buddhist tradition to justify violence, at least in self-defence. Medieval Japan, for example, had its Buddhist warrior monks. And even the Dalai Lama agrees that one can take limited action in self-defence. If a man is aiming a gun at you, he once said, you can shoot back, but to wound rather than kill.

Read it all.

Posted in Asia, Buddhism, Ethics / Moral Theology, Myanmar/Burma

The new Church of England website launches this week

[Wednesday of this week]…marks a significant milestone since the founding of the Digital Communications team at Church House in London one year ago. We’re thrilled to announce the launch of the new Church of England website, which has been rebuilt from scratch with the help of many colleagues in the national office in just seven months from start to finish.
While the old website received lots of traffic and interest, the confusing user experience and the 75,000+ documents and pages on the site were identified as key issues. These were resolved by content and plain English workshops for staff.

In January 2017 we ran an extensive research project with 1,800 Christians and non-Christians across the country. This included doing the following to understand what people found frustrating, what they’d like to see more or less of and, crucially, how Christians grow in faith and how we bring new people to faith:

Focus groups in Carlisle, Blackburn, Birmingham and London
1:1 interviews
Targeted national online surveys through social media
Website analytics and heatmapping how users interact with the content.

Read it all.

Posted in Blogging & the Internet, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Media, Religion & Culture

(The Tablet) Outcome of Australia’s same-sex marriage plebiscite will not end fight

Fr Frank Brennan, CEO of Catholic Social Services, wrote on the Jesuit-operated Eureka Street website on 9 November that wrote that with the return rate of the survey “a very credible 78.5 per cent” (compared with Ireland, where 60.5 per cent of eligible voters turned out to vote for same-sex marriage), the Australian vote in favour of Parliament legislating for same-sex marriage was likely to be even higher than the 62 per cent of Irish voters who in 2015 supported a change to the Irish Constitution recognising same-sex marriage.

“After Wednesday’s announcement, let’s hope we hear from some of our Catholic bishops repeating the sentiments of Archbishop Dermot Martin after the 2015 Irish vote: ‘The Church needs a reality check right across the board, to look at the things we are doing well and look at the areas where we need to say, ‘Have we drifted away completely from young people?’

“Wednesday will be a day of celebration for those wanting a ‘Yes’ vote,” Fr Brennan wrote. “It should also be a day when we Australians recommit ourselves to respect for all citizens, especially those whose beliefs differ significantly from our own. Our politicians led us into this divisive campaign. Now they need to lead us out of it with considered and timely legislation and a commitment to better protection of human rights for all.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Church of Australia, Australia / NZ, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sexuality

(Church Times) Churches hope to see the end of Mugabe’s rule

Churches in Zimbabwe have spoken with hope about “the birth of a new nation”, after military action on Wednesday appeared to curtail the rein of President Robert Mugabe.

In a statement issued on Wednesday afternoon, the Zimbabwean Council of Churches said: “We see the current situation not just as a crisis in which we are helpless. We see the current arrangement as an opportunity for the birth of a new nation. Our God created everything out of chaos, and we believe something new could emerge out of our situation.”

In the hours that followed the military intervention, the general secretary of the Zimbabwean Council of Churches, the Revd Dr Kenneth Mtata, called on all political and civil actors to rebuild a broken society.

Dr Mtata, a Lutheran pastor, said from Harare on Wednesday: “The current situation was inevitable. We had reached a point of no return. Our politics of attrition and toxic public engagement has had its logical conclusion.

“Our hope is that we can put back the train on the rails of democracy and citizenship engagement. We hope the current situation is only a transition to something that will be participatory and just.”

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Zimbabwe

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Hugh of Lincoln and Robert Grosseteste

Holy God, our greatest treasure, who didst bless Hugh and Robert, Bishops of Lincoln, with wise and cheerful boldness for the proclamation of thy Word to rich and poor alike: Grant that all who minister in thy Name may serve with diligence, discipline and humility, fearing nothing but the loss of thee and drawing all to thee through Jesus Christ our Savior; who liveth and reigneth with thee in the communion of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Bishop FT Woods (1874-1932)

Into Thy hands, O Lord, we commend ourselves and I all who are dear to us this day. Be with us in our going out and in our coming in. Strengthen us for the work which Thou hast given us to do. And grant that, filled with Thy Holy Spirit, we may walk worthy of our high calling, and cheerfully accomplish those things that Thou wouldest have done; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Frederick B. Macnutt, The prayer manual for private devotions or public use on divers occasions: Compiled from all sources ancient, medieval, and modern (A.R. Mowbray, 1951)

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems; and he has a name inscribed which no one knows but himself. He is clad in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, followed him on white horses. From his mouth issues a sharp sword with which to smite the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron; he will tread the wine press of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name inscribed, King of kings and Lord of lords.

–Revelation 19:11-16

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(TLC) Eugene Schlesinger–How the ACNA helped me become an Episcopalian

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Episcopal Church (TEC)

(ACNS) Anglican commission begins work to develop global safeguarding procedures

An international commission established to make the Churches of the Anglican Communion safe places for children, young people and vulnerable adults has begun its work. The Anglican Communion’s Safe Church Commission was established by the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) at its meeting last year in Lusaka; in one of four resolutions on safeguarding.

The establishment of the commission was recommended by the Anglican Communion Safe Church Network – a global group of clergy and laity which “emerged out of a concern that a number of Anglican Provinces have seen highly publicised lapses in behaviour by some clergy and church workers with tragic consequences for those who have been abused.” The network, which was recognised by the ACC at its 2012 meeting in Auckland, “is a growing international group of people committed to the physical, emotional and spiritual welfare and safety of all people involved in churches throughout the Anglican Communion.”

While the network has an on-going brief to educate people about abuse and misconduct in churches, and to equip and support people working to make their churches safe, the commission has been given a specific time-sensitive task.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Violence

(BBC) California Doctors attempt first treatment involving gene-editing in the human body

Gene-editing has been attempted on cells inside a patient, in a world first by doctors in California.
Brian Madeux, 44 from Arizona, was given the experimental treatment to try to correct a defect in his DNA that causes Hunter’s syndrome.
Mr Madeux says he was prepared to take part in the trial as he is “in pain every second of the day”.
It is too soon to know whether or not the gene-editing has worked in Mr Madeux’s case.
Hunter’s syndrome is rare. Patients are born without the genetic instructions for an enzyme that breaks down long sugary molecules called mucopolysaccharides.

Read it all.

Posted in Health & Medicine, Science & Technology

Anglican priest Jacob Worley Fired in Canada (II)–Anglican Journal Article

The Rev. Jacob Worley, whose election as bishop of the diocese of Caledonia was not upheld by the provincial House of Bishops in May, has been fired from his position as a priest effective November 30, 2017.

The termination was made “without cause,” according to a statement released by diocesan administrator, the Rev. Gwen Andrews.

Andrews declined to make further comments, but wrote in the statement that the decision was made by Archbishop John Privett, metropolitan (senior bishop) of the ecclesiastical province of British Columbia and Yukon, “in consultation with those in leadership positions in the Diocese and in prayerful consideration of what is in the best interests of the Worley family and the future of the Diocese.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Canada

Anglican priest Jacob Worley Fired in Canada (I)–Anglican Planet Interview

TAP: Is that when you started the church plant?

JW: Yes, it was just at that moment that many of the people who were already leaving the church said to me, “Will you now plant a church for us?” My new Bishop said yes, so I planted the church. So what the majority in the House of Bishops here [in British Columbia and the Yukon] said is they couldn’t accept me as a bishop because I planted the church within the boundaries of the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of the Rio Grande, and that I won’t say I’m sorry I did it. They said that constitutes that I have a view that’s contrary to the Anglican Church of Canada–and the National Chancellor was actually involved in all of that. He was talking to the Provincial Chancellor and diocesan Chancellor, as well as Archbishop Privett. And he was quoting Lambeth 1988, Resolution 72 as the rationale for my view being contrary to the discipline of the Anglican Church of Canada. They came back to me and wanted me to say that it was wrong to plant the church. And I can’t say that, because I know that the Lord moved in a mighty way there. And I didn’t go to anybody and say “Come and join us, leave the church”–I never said that. I just did it. At first there were 19 of us, and 7 were my family! There were young families, just having their kids kind of families, in their early to mid-twenties. And they didn’t want to leave the legacy of the Episcopal Church to their kids, because they saw what was happening. And so we started in someone’s living room and within three years we saw substantial growth in numbers. But more importantly than that, the people we were ministering to were those people in the community who had no place to go, people with mental illnesses, people ostracized by the rest of the churches, who felt they needed to worship and have a loving place where they heard the Gospel.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Canada