Daily Archives: May 5, 2009

U.S. Supreme Court Petition to be Filed by St. James Church

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. ”“ May 5, 2009 ”“ St. James Anglican Church, at the centerpiece of a nationally publicized church property dispute with the Episcopal Church, announced today that it will file a petition for writ of certiorari with the United States Supreme Court to resolve an important issue of religious freedom: Does the United States Constitution, which both prohibits the establishment of religion and protects the free exercise of religion, allow certain religious denominations to disregard the normal rules of property ownership that apply to everyone else?
Under longstanding law, no one can unilaterally impose a trust over someone else’s property without their permission. Yet, in the St. James case before the California Supreme Court, named Episcopal Church Cases, the Court created a special perquisite for certain churches claiming to be “hierarchical,” with a “superior religious body,” which may allow them to unilaterally appropriate for themselves property purchased and maintained by spiritually affiliated but separately
incorporated local churches. St. James will argue before the U.S.Supreme Court that this preferential treatment for certain kinds of religion violates the U.S. Constitution.

The constitutional issues St. James will raise before the U.S. Supreme Court go far beyond St. James or even the Episcopal Church. Every local church, temple, synagogue, parish, spiritual center, congregation or religious group which owns its property, and has some affiliation with a larger religious group, is possibly at risk of losing its property upon a change of religious affiliation. As a result, religious freedom is suppressed, as those who have sacrificed to build their local religious communities are now at risk of having their properties taken based on some past, current or future spiritual affiliation. A United States Supreme Court decision in favor of St.James would benefit local churches and religious groups throughout the country because it would allow congregations the ability to freely exercise their religion without having to forfeit their property to a larger religious body or denomination with which they are affiliated in the event of a dispute over religious doctrine.

While petitions for review with the U.S. Supreme Court are never assured, there are compelling arguments for the Justices to grant this petition, including:

· Dozens of church property cases are percolating in the court
system, lacking clear constitutional direction.

· States are in conflict regarding the handling of church property cases.

· These issues have garnered widespread national attention and
involve important questions of federal constitutional law.

The people of St. James Church have owned and sacrificed to build their church property for many decades, and during that time they have never agreed to relinquish their property to the Episcopal Church upon a change of religious affiliation. St. James has consistently maintained that it has the right to use and possess its own property.

John Eastman, a nationally recognized constitutional law scholar, has
joined the legal team to pursue the appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
A response from the Court regarding the St. James petition can be
expected as early as October 2009. A decision could be reached as
early as mid-2010.

Even as St. James prepares for a bid on the Supreme Court calendar,
the church’s legal battle has returned to the Orange County Superior
Court. “While we are surprised that the California Supreme Court
would prefer certain religions over others when it comes to property
ownership, the battle in this case is far from over,” said Eric C.
Sohlgren, lead attorney and spokesperson for St. James. “The case has
already returned to the Orange County Superior Court. Because St.
James had an early victory in 2005 by legally attacking the Episcopal
allegations, we now look forward to presenting evidence and additional
legal arguments on behalf of St. James. For example, St. James has
brought a complaint against the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles based
on a 1991 written promise that it would not claim a trust over the
property of St. James on 32nd Street in Newport Beach.”

For more information, please visit the website: www.steadfastinfaith.org

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A Brief Recap: St. James Anglican Church’s Fight to Keep its Property

In August 2004 St. James Church ended its affiliation with the
Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles and the Episcopal Church over
theological differences involving the authority of Holy Scripture and
the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles
brought lawsuits against St. James Church, All Saints Church, Long
Beach, CA, and St. David’s Church, No. Hollywood, CA, and their
volunteer board members in September of 2004. Subsequently, the
national Episcopal Church intervened into the lawsuits against the
three local church corporations and their volunteer board members.

In August 2005 the Honorable David C. Velasquez of the Orange County
Superior Court ruled in favor of St. James Church and struck the
complaint brought by the Diocese of Los Angeles. In October 2005
Judge Velasquez issued a similar ruling in favor of All Saints and St.
David’s Churches. These early victories arose from early challenges
to the two complaints filed by the Diocese and the Episcopal Church,
and as a result, no trial ever occurred. The Episcopalians then
appealed to the California Court of Appeal sitting in Orange County on
this very limited court record, arguing that under neutral principles
of law they had a probability of prevailing and had alleged legally
viable claims.

In July 2007 the Court of Appeal rejected nearly thirty years of
California church property law by ruling that a secular court must
defer to the determinations of the highest level of the church
hierarchy regarding ownership of local church property, regardless of
any agreements between the parties, the corporate documents, who paid
for the property, or who held the deed. The Court of Appeal reversed
the trial court judgment in favor of St. James, and ordered the case
back to the trial court.

In August 2007 St. James filed a petition with the California Supreme
Court, which the Court unanimously and quickly accepted under the name
of Episcopal Church Cases. The Court heard oral argument in the case
in October 2008.

In January 2009 the California Supreme Court ruled in Episcopal Church
Cases that church property disputes in California must be resolved by
neutral or non-religious principles of law, not by civil courts merely
deferring to the decrees of church “hierarchies” or larger church
bodies. As a result, every church property dispute in California now
will be resolved based on non-religious factors that are unique to the
dispute. While adopting this non-religious method of resolving
property disputes between churches, however, the Court seemed to defer
to the Episcopal Church’s alleged “trust canon,” which purports to
create a trust interest in church property owned by local
congregations. The Court made its ruling despite the fact that St.
James purchased and maintained its property with its own funds and has
held clear record title to its property for over fifty years. St.
James believes that this ruling overlooked decades of trust law in
California that only allows the owner of property to create a trust in
favor of someone else, and will as a result have wide impact for local
church property owners throughout California that seek to change their
religious affiliation.

In late January 2009 St. James formally asked the California Supreme
Court to modify its January decision.

In February 2009 the California Supreme Court granted the St. James
request, and modified its decision to confirm both that the suit
against St. James is not over and that no decision on the merits of
the case has yet been made. Instead, the Court clarified that its
decision was only based on the limited record before it, which will
now be augmented through the normal discovery and trial process.

In late February 2009, the case against St. James Church corporation, the volunteer board members, and clergy returned to the trial court in Orange County where St. James can assert factual and legal arguments that were not addressed on appeal through discovery, depositions, motions, and trial. Using the legal standard set forth by the California Supreme Court, the Orange County Superior Court will eventually decide the merits of this dispute. For example, St. James has brought a complaint against the Diocese of Los Angeles based on a 1991 written promise that it would not claim a trust over the property of St. James on 32nd Street in Newport Beach.

In May 2009, St. James will plan to file a petition for a writ of certiorari with the United States Supreme Court. A response from the Court regarding its decision to hear St. James’s petition can be expected by October 2009. The Justices could render by mid-2010.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles

Church of England publish 'crammer's prayers' to help stressed exam students

The brief prayers, available to download on the Church of England’s website, have been designed to look like the revision cards used by school pupils.

They are even written like a revision aid, in a clear bullet-point style, and remind students to remain calm and keep a sense of perspective.

One of the crammers prayers is written by the Bishop of Lincoln, Rt Revd John Saxbee, who is also the Chair of the Church of England Board of Education.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Education, England / UK, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer

Rob Eaton–Bishops-elect: The Consents Process (with comments on Northern Michigan) Updated

Check it out.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Northern Michigan

The Bishop of Virginia Votes No on the Northern Michigan Episcopal Election

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Northern Michigan

Dan Gilgoff–Francis Collins: A Scientific Basis for God

Collins says belief is ultimately a matter of faith””that God’s existence can’t, in the end, be proved by science. And yet he sees plenty of “pointers to God,” natural phenomena that imply the existence of a biblical God. Here are Collins’s “pointers”:

* There is something instead of nothing.

* The unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics, which make simple and beautiful laws.

* The Big Bang: out of nothingness, the universe came into being. That cries out for explanation, since we have not observed nature to create itself . . . it causes us to postulate a creator, and the creator must be outside of time or you haven’t solved the problem.

* The precise tuning of the physical constants in the universe. If gravity was a little weaker, things would all start flying a part. You can see a creator in these constants.

Collins says his work reconciling science and religion has received mixed reviews from the evangelical Christians that it’s largely aimed at.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

Religious Intelligence: CanadianAnglican bishops side-step same sex union debate

The implications of Canada’s push forward on gay blessings, however, was raised in an open session on creating diocese-to-diocese links with African churches to dialogue with them on issues of human sexuality. The majority of Anglican dioceses in Africa are in broken or impaired communion with those portions of the Canadian Church that have endorsed or authorized gay blessings.

Nonetheless, the Canadian bishops stated that they remained Anglican. The Archbishop of Canterbury “has stated in writing that his office and the Anglican Communion Office recognize one ecclesial body in Canada as a constitutive member of the communion, the Anglican Church of Canada.”

The Canadian bishops said they “affirm this statement. We cherish our communion with the See of Canterbury and remain committed to the life and witness of the Anglican Communion in the service of the Gospel.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

For Those With Low Incomes, Help Creating a Credit History

MARK LEVINE, Founder, Credit Where Credit is Due: And I was just struck by how few had bank accounts and how many used check-cashing stores in lieu of banks, how many, when they needed credit, went to pawnshops and loan sharks.

SPENCER MICHELS: Now, you say there are loan sharks. What is that about?

MARK LEVINE: Prestamista is Spanish for “loan shark.” And unfortunately, it’s an industry which is alive and well here in Washington Heights. The interest rates are astronomical, as high as 5 percent to 10 percent a week. There is a threat of violence if you don’t repay.

SPENCER MICHELS: He said he understood why commercial banks didn’t lend.

MARK LEVINE: Frankly, for them to make a $500 loan, it’s as much work as making a $50,000 loan. It’s not profitable for them, and they’re generally not interested.

SPENCER MICHELS: But he was convinced there had to be a solution. So Levine became a social entrepreneur, raising grant money to open a credit union that had a bilingual staff, offering small loans to people with no credit, and giving free financial counseling.

Read it all. This was my favorite story which I caught over the weekend. This man is a hero–KSH.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Poverty, The Banking System/Sector

AP: Vatican plays down differences before pope's Israel trip

The Vatican’s representative to the Holy Land on Monday played down the controversies that could mar a visit next week by Pope Benedict XVI: the conduct of a wartime predecessor, a Roman Catholic prayer for converting the Jews and the church’s perceived lenience toward a Holocaust-denying bishop.

A papal visit to the Holy Land is not the time to “quarrel for this or that,” said Monsignor Antonio Franco, the Apostolic Nuncio to Israel.

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Posted in * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Inter-Faith Relations, Israel, Judaism, Middle East, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

LA Times: Same-sex marriages gradually gain legal ground

One state where the recent domino effect has been measurable is Hawaii. A same-sex marriage bill failed in the Senate but by a far narrower margin than previous votes, and efforts are underway to tinker with the wording to win majority acceptance.

Gay rights proponents credit the change in public and political attitudes to the state’s adoption a dozen years ago of a “reciprocal beneficiaries” policy, allowing any two people who can’t be legally married — gay couples, blood relatives — to designate each other as beneficiary of all rights and responsibilities accorded married couples.

Though still few in number, the states recognizing same-sex unions are home to nearly a third of the U.S. population, said Gary Gates, senior research fellow at the Williams Institute. He estimates that at least a quarter of the 780,000 same-sex couples married or registered in civil unions across the country are raising children, boosting the likelihood of legal challenges to secure equal protection from insurers, employers and the government for their families.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Sexuality

Chris Sugden and Phil Ashey: Report from ACC-14 Day Three

One cannot help gain the impression of an unfair lack of even handedness while making up the rules as they go along.

The unseating of Rev Ashey is linked with the decision to be made about who can adhere to the Covenant. Those who have consistently defied the Communion for the last five years are in a position to lobby and vote to exclude provisions in the Ridley Draft Covenant whereby other entities ( dioceses in TEC or ACNA) can sign up to the Covenant while TEC itself wants to spend 5 years considering the question. They are also allowed to retake their seats in order to engage in such lobbying while in defiance of requests of the communion about abandoning lawsuits, while those who have defied the request on cross border jurisdiction (soon to become a dead letter when ACNA is formed in six weeks time), are denied the right to exercise their own choice of who their delegate at the meeting is.

We see here what appears to be a lack of fairness, evenhandedness and consistency applied to the advantage of those who have caused the current problems by departing from the teaching and practice of the Communion in faith and morals and to the disadvantage of those who have adhered to the teaching and practice of the Communion in faith and morals. And the former will this week try to prevent the latter from even being able to adhere to the Covenant process.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Consultative Council, Anglican Covenant, Anglican Provinces, Church of Uganda

Statement from the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion

Canon Kearon also spoke at the press briefing on 4th May.

Listen to it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Consultative Council

Correspondence Relating to the Uganda Delegate Controversy at the ACC Meeting

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Consultative Council, Anglican Provinces, Church of Uganda

Anglican Journal: Uganda primate protests decision to disallow delegate to ACC

The primate of the Anglican Church of Uganda, Henry Luke Orombi, has written a strongly-worded letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, protesting the decision by the Joint Standing Committee (JSC) not to allow an American priest who was appointed as the clerical representative of the Ugandan church to the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) meeting here.

Archbishop Orombi called the decision “unjust, unbiblical, unconstitutional, ”¦short of imperialistic,” and appealed to Archbishop Williams in his capacity as president of the ACC “to help the Joint Standing Committee understand the limits of their authority.”He asked Archbishop Williams to recognize the appointment of Philip Ashey, a former priest of The Episcopal Church, who is now the chief operating officer of the Anglican American Council (AAC). The AAC is part of the Common Cause Partnership, which is advocating for recognition as a separate province in North America.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Consultative Council, Anglican Provinces, Church of Uganda, Common Cause Partnership

In battle over old Miami Episcopal church, wrecking ball wins

Local historians’ desperate attempts to salvage a 97-year-old church built on grounds once owned by Coconut Grove pioneer Commodore Ralph Munroe failed Monday, as a bulldozer destroyed the church’s facade and tore down its bell.

A group led by preservationist Arva Parks Moore met with leaders from St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church late into Sunday evening — leaving the session, they said, believing they had succeeded in holding off the demolition.

But later Sunday night they were told the school would press forth with its plan to build new classrooms and a commercial retail building where the structure stood facing Main Highway in Coconut Grove’s central business district.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Parishes

ACC-14 Press Briefing 4th May 2009

On Sunday May 3rd, the second day of the Anglican Consultative Council the laity clergy and Bishops had an opportunity to see the “big picture” of the work of the Anglican Communion. The representatives of the Anglican Communion Networks shared something of their goals, activities and plans for the future. Other Communion-wide mission initiatives were also represented in the fair-like atmosphere as many stories and experiences about mission were exchanged.

The press conference today (4th May) presented two of the Networks and a portion of their story. Dr. Jenny Te Paa from New Zealand spoke about her work on the Peace and Justice Network and the retired bishop of Canberra and Goldburn George Browning shared the story of The Anglican Environmental Network.

Watch it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Consultative Council