In Thursday’s ruling, the appellate justices said the issue before them was “not resolution of a property dispute … (but) solely this issue: Who is the Bishop of the Diocese of San Joaquin: John-David Schofield or Jerry A. Lamb? This is an issue the First Amendment forbids us from adjudicating.”
The matter of who is bishop, outside of property issues, the court wrote, is a matter for the church itself. Civil courts must not decide “questions of religious doctrine,” the justices wrote.
The facts are clear, the justices said, and not a matter for courts to decide: Schofield was the bishop until Jan. 11, 2008. Lamb has been the bishop since March 29, 2008. “Third, at some point Schofield became the Anglican Bishop presiding over an Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin, affiliated with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone of South America.”
Thus, the trial court erred by naming Lamb as the bishop, the justices said.