A number of people have spent a lot of time and a lot of money convincing regular people in the pews in the episcopal church that they can leave and that they can take the church with them. This has been a fallacy since the beginning. The people guiding these sheep have either known all along that the would end up where they are or they deluded themselves into thinking that somehow they were holy than though and God would consent to their property theft. Either way they got really bad legal advice. Worse still they don't know when to quit. In their press release they
say they can still win at the trial court level or that they may appeal to the United States Supreme Court. The can't win either place and never could. The California Supreme Court slammed the door on every possible argument that they could use to retain their ill gotten booty. Please for the love of God stop!!
NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. – January 5, 2009 – The California Supreme Court today ruled in Episcopal Church Cases that church property disputes must be resolved by “neutral principles of law,” not by civil courts merely deferring to the decrees of church “hierarchies.” This ruling has wide and favorable impact for churches throughout California that seek to change their denominational affiliation.
While adopting this “non-religious” method of resolving property disputes between churches, 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 Anglican Church, Newport Beach, purchased and maintained its property with its own funds and has held clear record title to its property for over fifty years.
In recent years, religious denominations as diverse as the Eastern Orthodox, Baptist and Pentecostal “Assemblies of God” have attempted to confiscate the property of congregations that wish to change their spiritual affiliation. Today’s ruling falls far short of the endorsement of such tactics that the Episcopal Church – and other denominational hierarchies that submitted briefs in support of it – had sought. Many local churches in California will be able to exercise their religious freedom to change their affiliation without having to forfeit their property as a result.
Nor is the saga over for St. James Anglican Church. “While we are surprised that the Court seemed to give some credence to the Episcopal Church’s purported rule confiscating local church property, the battle is far from over,” lead attorney Eric C. Sohlgren said. “The matter will now return to the Orange County Superior Court for further proceedings, and we look forward to presenting evidence and additional legal arguments that St. James Church should prevail under neutral principles of law.”
The leadership of the Newport Beach congregation is also evaluating a possible appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court and is meeting to discuss other possible steps. Today’s ruling also affects All Saints Church in Long Beach and St. David’s Church in North Hollywood, whose cases were put on hold pending the outcome of the St. James case. Together with St. James Church, these congregations never agreed to relinquish their property to the Episcopal Church upon changing their affiliation, and have consistently maintained that they have the right to use and possess the property which they have owned and maintained for decades.
The California Supreme Court says that under neutral principles the local church loses. Courts everywhere have held that under the other test used the hierarchical test, they lose. How the lawyers and church leaders can continue to sell their clients and charges that there is any hope is beyond me. Maybe a legal malpractice claim would help these people out.