Monday, February 9, 2015


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

My remarks in yesterday's Charleston Post and Courier have brought some responses. I welcome all of them, the good, the bad, and the ugly. The more publicity I get the more people read my blog. The more people read my blog the more information they get on the church schism. The more information people get, the better they can make up their own minds about their choices. Last July, when I was personally attacked at length online by a prominent Episcopal Church critic and lawyer and it was repeated by numerous anti-Episcopal Church websites, my readership skyrocketed and has remained high. So, have at it and give my blog address: .

One of my respondents suggested that I could have peace right now, that all this mess in court could end if the Church would simply accept Goodstein's decision and quit the contest. To that person, I would recommend the movie Lincoln or better yet Doris Goodwin's book Team of Rivals. Lincoln could have ended the Civil War at any time and saved countless lives and enormous treasure if he had quit the war. He could have had peace from day one. Confederate emissaries repeatedly offered peace terms if slavery could remain. The greatest genius of the day, Lincoln refused because he would have had to abdicate the moral high ground and abandon his noble campaign for human rights. As horrible as it was, he had to let the war go on for a higher cause, freedom for four million helpless human beings. It was a terrible choice; but in hindsight we know he was right.

This church conflict in South Carolina is about human rights, however much Mark Lawrence and his acolytes protest that it is not. The historical record is loud and clear and will remain so. They cannot change history regardless of how hard they may try. For more than half a century the Episcopal Church has fought hard for human rights, for African Americans, for women, and for homosexual people. This is a moral crusade. The leaders of the old diocese of South Carolina willfully and deliberately pulled the majority of communicants of the diocese out of the Episcopal Church because they could not stomach this crusade. Since the schism the independent diocese has consistently refused to negotiate for a compromise settlement with the Church. Indeed, it was Lawrence's lawyer who initiated the lawsuit against the Church.

Of course the Episcopal Church could have peace, just as Lincoln could have had it. But like Lincoln, the Episcopal Church should not and will not abandon its Godly crusade for freedom and equality. Its opponents may win in court here and there by various momentary legal strategies, but they will not win in the long run. The whole history of the United States is the unfolding of democracy, of freedom and equality among the citizenry. In the end, the right will prevail. The Episcopal Church is on the right side of history.

I invite you on the Lawrence side to talk with me to give me your experiences and perspectives. I will incorporate them as appropriate in the history of the schism that I am writing. If you would like to share your thoughts with me, please contact me by email.

I plan to attend the annual convention of the independent diocese in Charleston next month. I'll be the one in front taking copious notes and hanging out with Steve Skardon. Everybody knows Steve. We will be there as "visitors." If you are there, I hope you will stop by and say a friendly "Hello." .