Thursday, July 17, 2014


By Ronald J. Caldwell, PhD, Professor of History, Emeritus

We now have our three daily eye-witness reports on the court proceedings of the seventh day of the trial, yesterday, Wednesday, July 16: Steve Skardon (www.scepiscopalians.vom), Holly Behre for the Episcopal Church in South Carolina (, and (Jan Pringle?) for the independent diocese ( In my opinion, the best of these is Behre's. It is long, detailed, well-organized and well-written. It tells us a good deal about the days events. The worst of these is the independent diocese's report. It is a brief three paragraphs that is almost entirely propaganda. Under its sensationalist headlines, it offers very little of substance. This is regrettable because in the first week, when the independent diocese was presenting its witnesses, the diocese produced some informative reports. However, since the Church side has taken over all we are getting from them is over-the-top propaganda. Therefore, I hesitate to recommend this as a credible source of information on the trial. Note to independent diocese--give us more details and less spin. We already know your talking points by heart. What we out here in the hinterland want to know are the details of the daily trial proceedings. The others have spin too, but it is much less obvious and it is accompanied by a good amount of information. So, lets have more detail and less spin, everybody.

Only one witness occupied the stand yesterday, Martin C. McWilliams, Jr., a professor of law at the University of South Carolina. The focus of his testimony apparently revolved around the original state charter of incorporation of 1973. The charter specifically said that the diocese was incorporated as a non-profit institution in South Carolina under the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church. In a nutshell, McWilliams believed the original charter is still in effect because the attempt to amend it in 2010 was improper and illegal. Behre did an excellent job in summarizing his testimony. I will refer you to her report at ECSC. Skardon wrote that the diocesan attorneys turned up the volume in cross-examination of McWilliams and actually chipped away at some of his testimony but did not touch his basic points. If we are to believe the independent diocesan report, a completely different McWilliams testified that the diocesan constitution and canons are superior to the Church's. They gave no specifics to back up the headlines.

The trial resumes today, Thursday, July 17, as the Church side continues presenting its witnesses. The trial is certain to last into next week although we cannot know yet an exact day of conclusion.