Breakaway South Carolina diocese to keep name and property

13 February 2015

AP

"Freedom to disassociate": the Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina, the Rt Revd Mark Lawrence, speaks at a press conference after the ruling, on Wednesday of last week 

"Freedom to disassociate": the Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina, the Rt Revd Mark Lawrence, speaks at a press conference after the...

A JUDGE in the legal wrangle between the realigned Diocese of South Carolina and the Episcopal Church in the United States has ruled that the separated diocese can keep church property worth $500 million, and retain its name.

The diocese left the Episcopal Church in 2012, after years of disagreements over issues including homosexuality and gay bishops. It then filed a lawsuit against the Episcopal Church to retain the diocese's property, name, and other assets (News, 8 August 2014).

In a ruling on Tuesday, the Circuit Court Judge Diane Goodstein said that the diocese had the right to leave, and she rejected the Episcopal Church's argument that it had legal interest in the diocese's property.

She said in her ruling that, although freedom of association is a fundamental right, "with the freedom to associate goes its corollary: the freedom to disassociate."

Thomas Tisdale, the Diocesan Chancellor for the Episcopal Church in South Carolina - which includes 30 parishes and mission churches still affiliated with the national Church - said that the judge's decision was not unexpected, and that his group would push for an appeal.

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