Thursday, May 29, 2008

Richmond Times-Dispatch on the Diocese of Virginia Trial

hat tip to the Episcopal Cafe

The Richmond Times-Dispatch on the constitutionality of the Virginia law of division:

The situation in Northern Virginia focuses on property and denominational governance. After leaving the Diocese of Virginia, the breakaway churches affiliated with African branches of the worldwide Anglican Communion. They continue to occupy their buildings. Therein lies the legal irritation. The Episcopal Church is hierarchical. Individual parishes are neither truly independent nor fully autonomous but emanate from the diocese. The bishop serves as the foundation's head. Rectors and priests represent him or her at the parish level. We will not delve further, as in this instance church structure flows from denominational belief and thus falls under the purview of theologians.
Neither camp has made any of its decisions lightly. The decision to leave a church, or a diocese, is not an idle act; the decision to defend institutional interests is not idle, either -- especially when the interests embody reliance on Scripture, tradition, and reason.

Virginia prides itself as being the birthplace of religious liberty -- America's first freedom. The Virginia law under review interferes with an intradenominational debate and violates the spirit of church-state separation even as it resurrects the dubious legacy of interposition. If the commonwealth acted wisely when it disestablished the Anglican Church, then it errs when it implicitly tells the Diocese of Virginia how to run itself.

Read it all. The trial on the constitutional question opens today.

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