Wednesday, April 30, 2014


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

GAFCON (Global Anglican Futures Conference) has struck again. It is the reactionary, homophobic shadow government of the Anglican Communion centered in equatorial Africa. The majority of its Primates' Council is from there (Uganda, Nigeria, Rwanda, Kenya, Sudan). On April 27, the Council issued a "Communique," as usual obsessed with homosexuality. This one, however, goes a step farther in a jaw-dropping declaration: "5. We are equally concerned for the affected communities in Chile from the recent earthquake, terrorist attacks in Kenya, and the backlash from the international community in Uganda from their new legislation." (read the whole statement at Yes, you read it correctly. It equates the devastating earthquake in Chile and bloody terrorist attacks in Kenya to the international opposition to the recent anti-homosexual law in Uganda (not the law itself, but the BACKLASH against the law).

The "Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Act, 2014" was signed into law on Feb. 24, 2014 (see the excellent article at The text of the law may be found at . The new law calls for life imprisonment for persons engaging in certain homosexual acts. Among additional things, it provides for prison terms for individuals who fail to turn in family, friends, and neighbors they know to be engaging in homosexual acts. This is, of course, a blatant violation of basic human rights, the persecution of a helpless, defenseless minority. The law has been almost universally condemned in the western world, especially by American, Canadian, and British leaders and practically every human rights association in the world. But not GAFCON. Quite the opposite. GAFCON is on record blasting the opponents of the this new law.

See also the article by Cathy Lynn Grossman in Religion News Service of April 28 ( Grossman points out that Robert Duncan, archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America, signed the Communique as a member of the council of primates of GAFCON. Duncan has been recognized by GAFCON as the only legitimate Anglican primate in America. Duncan, however, refused to comment on the Communique. But obviously as a signatory he cannot disclaim the statement. 

In another excellent commentary, on April 29. Jim Naughton wrote in Episcopal CafĂ© "Why Won't ACNA Say it is Wrong to Put Gay People in Prison?" ( Naughton believes that Duncan and the other breakaway leaders in the U.S. are trying to hide the fact of their anti-homosexual agenda: "ACNA's leaders in this country know that their church won't survive if its homophobic roots...become widely known."

The evidence shows that this is also true in South Carolina. A simple glace over the "Chronology" section of this blog shows the obsession with homosexuality in the Diocese of South Carolina since the days of Bishop Allison in the 1980's. The consecration of Gene Robinson in 2003 had an enormous backlash in South Carolina. Then, in the first two years of his episcopacy, Mark Lawrence made a major issue of what he called "indiscriminate inclusivity," his term declaring opposition to rights for homosexuals. The issue worked as the wedge to separate the diocese from the Episcopal Church. This was accomplished by resolutions of the October 2010 special diocesan convention which ended accession to the canons of the Episcopal Church. Once done, homosexuality was pushed aside. The "Rubric of Love," a resolution of compassion for homosexuals, had already been permanently withdrawn in the convention of March of 2010. After that, the diocesan leadership tried to bury the issue of homosexuality as they put all their emphasis on theological and organizational differences with the national church, such as the Title IV reforms. Since the schism, the diocesan leadership has carried on a campaign to rewrite history to say that it was all about God, not gays. The historical evidence says otherwise loudly and clearly.

In South Carolina, Mark Lawrence and other diocesan leaders, as Kendall Harmon, have been great advocates of GAFCON. Lawrence attended both GAFCON conferences (2008, 2013) and warmly endorsed their statements. Just a few weeks ago, Harmon gave a workshop at a diocesan convention promoting the Jerusalem Declaration, the official statement of the 2008 GAFCON meeting. Harmon just promoted the new GAFCON Communique on his blog (without mentioning its point #5). It is clear that the independent Diocese of South Carolina has strong ties to GAFCON.

The truth is that the driving issue in leading the majority of the old diocese out of the Episcopal Church was homosexuality. However much the pre-schism diocesan leaders may try, they cannot hide the truth. Moreover, time and history are against them. All the evidence shows a huge sea change in America supporting rights for homosexual persons including marriage equality. Within a decade, even a majority of South Carolinians will support marriage equality. Young people already overwhelmingly support it. In time, a church based on opposition to rights for homosexuals will shrink away.

The good communicants of the independent Diocese of South Carolina should ask themselves whether they really want to be connected to GAFCON. Their diocesan leaders are enthusiastically supporting GAFCON. GAFCON is supporting the legal persecution of homosexuals in Uganda. They have said that the backlash against the law is as bad as an earthquake or a terrorist bomb. GAFCON pretends to be a Christian leadership organization. The new law is anything but Christian. Do the good people of South Carolina really want to support an organization that defends the cruel and bizarre belief that homosexuals belong in prison, and for life? If not, they ought to reconsider the decisions their leaders have made for them.

Saturday, April 12, 2014


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

A summary of pending litigation between the independent Diocese of South Carolina (DSC) and the Episcopal Church in South Carolina (ECSC) derived from the public record as of April 12:

1. COURT OF COMMON PLEAS FOR THE FIRST JUDICIAL CIRCUIT (state court, St. George, Dorchester County, Judge Goodstein)

     ---July 7 and 8 set as dates for trial, Dorchester County Courthouse, St. George, Courtroom "D", approximately 10:00 a.m.

     ---DSC has issued at least 14 subpoenas "commanding" each person to appear at a time and place to give an official deposition. 1-George M. Hearn, Jr. (Apr. 11), 2-Holly Behre (Apr. 30), 3-Robert Black (Apr. 29), 4-Bishop John C. Buchanan (Apr. 16), 5-Lonnie Hamilton III (Apr. 29), 6-Bishop Dorsey Henderson (Apr. 24), 7-Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori (Apr. 23), 8-Melinda Lucka (Apr. 30), 9-Barbara Mann (Apr. 28), 10-Steve Skardon (Apr. 14), 11-James E. Taylor (May 2), 12-Bishop Charles vonRosenberg (Apr. 22), 13-Callie Walpole (Apr. 21), 14-Michael Wright (Apr. 25). Each was "served" by an official process server.

DSC gave no explanation of why these persons and not others were subpoenaed. Some of the above names have had no official capacity in a diocese.

     ---Judge Goodstein has an outstanding order to "stay," or stop, the taking of depositions. On January 17, DSC made a request to Goodstein for permission to take depositions. Goodstein denied the request pending a ruling from the appeals court. On March 18 the appeals court denied ECSC's appeal; and soon thereafter DSC asked Goodstein to lift the "stay." She did not respond to this request. In apparent disregard of Goodstein's "stay" order, DSC proceeded with issuing subpoenas to the fourteen persons listed above. On March 31, ECSC filed "TECSC's Notice and Motion to Quash Subpoenas Issued by the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina and the Trustees of the Protestant Episcopal Church in South Carolina and to Hold Them in Contempt of Court." This asked Goodstein to 1-stop the subpoenas, and 2-hold DSC in contempt of court. Goodstein has not responded to this request. On April 8, ECSC filed with Goodstein, "TECSC's Notice and Motion for Immediate Hearing" asking for an immediate stop to the subpoenas. Goodstein has not responded to this request.

     ---The first deposition, of Hearn, was to have taken place on Friday, April 11. We do not know yet whether it actually occurred.

     ---Goodstein has pending requests from both sides: DSC to lift "stay", and ECSC to stop the subpoenas and to hold DSC in contempt. We are awaiting her response.


     On January 13, ECSC filed an appeal with the South Carolina Court of Appeals asking the court to overturn Judge Goodstein's decision to disallow ECSC's request for the correspondence between Lawrence and Runyan. On February 6, DSC asked the South Carolina Supreme Court to assume jurisdiction over the appeals from Goodstein's court. ECSC did not object to this request. On March 18, the appeals court rejected ECSC's motion of appeal; and on March 25, ECSC filed a new petition with the appeals court for a rehearing. However, on April 4, the S C Supreme Court granted DSC's request and moved the appeals to the supreme court.

     The South Carolina Supreme Court will now consider all appeals coming from Goodstein's court. ECSC did not oppose this.


     On February 5, ECSC filed an appeal of U.S. judge Houck's decision to the Fourth Circuit court of appeals in Richmond, Virginia. This is the regional court for appeals from U.S. district courts.

     On April 7, ECSC filed "Opening Brief of Appellant [ECSC]." 53 pages. In this, ECSC emphasizes the Lanham Act, an act of Congress, and Serbian Orthodox Diocese v. Milivojevich, a U.S. Supreme Court decision.  The Lanham Act (see is a 1946 law providing the primary trademark statute for the U.S. It also forbids false advertising. The Serbian Orthodox case (see is a Supreme Court ruling that the First and Fourteenth Amendments preclude the government from interfering in the internal matters of an hierarchical church. It emphasizes the principle of separation of church and state. It holds that internal decisions must be made by the institution, and not by civil courts.

     ECSC's case is based on the claim that it alone is the Episcopal Church diocese of South Carolina and vonRosenberg is the only legal bishop of the diocese. It asserts that the Episcopal Church is hierarchical and must be allowed to resolve its own internal differences.

     DSC, on the contrary, holds that it is the only legal and legitimate Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina because it is and has always been a sovereign entity. Therefore, the Episcopal Church is not an hierarchical institution. DSC seeks to have "neutral" principles followed in court. This would judge property disputes "neutrally" between the two sides.

     So far, there is no public record that DSC has responded to ECSC's action in the U.S. Court of Appeals.


     There is one other important legal action to bear in mind, the plan of the Episcopal Diocese of Ft. Worth to submit a writ in the U.S. Supreme Court for consideration of the Texas Supreme Court's decision against the diocese. The application will have to be made by June in order to be considered by the court for next year.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


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

On April 4, 2014, the Supreme Court of South Carolina issued an "Order" under the signature of Jean H. Toal, the chief justice, of four sentences. It said that the Diocese of South Carolina (DSC) had moved that the appeals made by the Episcopal Church in South Carolina (ECSC) in the South Carolina Court of Appeals be moved to the Supreme Court of South Carolina. ECSC did not file a counter motion to the DSC request in the SC Supreme Court. Therefore, "The motion [of DSC] is granted and the appeal is hereby certified [moved] to this Court." This means that the SC Supreme Court will rule on the appeals ECSC made from the Circuit Court of Judge Goodstein.

The second bit of news is that Judge Goodstein has set the date for the trial in her circuit court as July 7 and 8 of 2014.

Not surprisingly, the two dioceses have posted very different interpretations of the state Supreme Court order. ECSC's post of April 7 is entitled "Appeal Over Withheld Evidence Moves to State Supreme Court." ( ) ECSC lawyers appealed Goodstein's refusal to require DSC to turn over some 1200 pieces of correspondence between Bishop Lawrence and his lead lawyer, C, Alan Runyan, before November 17, 2012 (the date of the purported disassociation). The lawyers claim the Episcopal Church diocese owns this correspondence since Lawrence was the legal bishop of the Episcopal Church diocese at that time. They have charged that Lawrence and his inner circle enacted a conspiracy to try to remove the diocese from the Episcopal Church and to take the property that belonged to the Episcopal diocese under the terms of the Church and diocesan constitution and canons.

The historical record is clear that C. Alan Runyan played an active role in the run-up to the special diocesan convention of October 15, 2010. It was that convention that passed six resolutions making a de facto separation of the diocese from the Episcopal Church. The resolutions asserted self-rule, local sovereignty, and the right of nullification. They declared the removal of South Carolina from accession to the canons of the Episcopal Church, deleted the Dennis Canon from the diocesan canons, and altered the diocesan corporate charter to remove references to the Episcopal Church. This was the turning point for South Carolina. DSC, however, claimed that it had not separated from the Church because it still acceded to the constitution of the Church. Nevertheless, these resolutions would be the core issues on which the Disciplinary Board for Bishops would rule in 2012 that Lawrence had abandoned the communion of the Episcopal Church. The presiding bishop then placed a restriction of Lawrence. Lawrence rejected the validity of all of this and discarded his consecration vows of loyalty to the Episcopal Church by acts of November 17, 2012. The presiding bishop then removed him as the bishop of the Episcopal Church diocese of South Carolina.

By his own testimony ("The Personal Testimony of Mr. Alan Runyan, Attorney for the Diocese of South Carolina," audio, Christ/St. Paul's, Jan. 12, 2014, 13-1-14), Runyan, a former Baptist deacon and Sunday School teacher, became very interested in church legal issues after the South Carolina Supreme Court's ruling on All Saints, Waccamaw in September of 2009 (overruled the Dennis Canon for All Saints, Pawleys Island). Soon thereafter he and Lawrence formed a close working relationship. By January of 2010, Runyan had becaome a very prominent lawyer in the diocese even though Wade Logan remained chancellor. When Tisdale, as lawyer for the presiding bishop, attempted to get information from the diocese for the national church in January of 2010, it was Runyan who issued a number of letters against this. The diocese refused to turn over any document to Tisdale. By September of 2010, Runyan was apparently close with the Standing Committee and was speaking around the diocese in support of the six proposed resolutions for the upcoming special convention of Oct. 15, 2010. His presentation to the convention is available on youtube ("DSC 2010 Convention: Alan Runyan Explains Canons," Oct. 15, 2010, Anglican TV, 11 min., posted 17-10-12, All six resolutions easily sailed through the convention. As stated earlier, these resolutions were the point of no return for the diocese of South Carolina. Runyan remained an important legal advisor, perhaps the most important, to Lawrence throughout 2010, 2011, and 2012. After the schism he has remained as the apparent lead lawyer for DSC. He even went to Illinois to participate in the trial there between TEC and the secessionist diocese of Quincy. Therefore, the correspondence between Lawrence and Runyan would be of great importance to the case prepared by ECSC lawyers. DSC, however, refuses to turn over any correspondence on the grounds of lawyer-client confidentiality. Judge Goodstein refused to order the turn over of the correspondence, hence ECSC's appeal to the SC Court of Appeals.

The independent Diocese of South Carolina posted a story on its web site on April 8: "SC Supreme Court Takes Jurisdiction over TEC Appeals: Justices' Decision Likely Prevents TEC from Using Legal Maneuvers to Drag Out Proceedings, Drain Local Funds." ( DSC believes TEC and ECSC are "misusing" appeals to drag out the proceedings as long as possible to deliberately bleed DSC of funds. This does not point out that DSC, and not the Episcopal Church, started the lawsuits in South Carolina. It is also interesting to note the last line of the article: "The Diocese has consistently disagreed with TEC's embrace of what most members of the global Anglican Communion believe to be a radical fringe scriptural interpretation that makes Christ's teachings optional for salvation." Yet, it will be recalled that just last month the DSC convention passed a resolution that only Episcopal Church liturgies may be used in churches of the Diocese of South Carolina. Apparently the contradiction of word and deed does not occur to the leadership clique in DSC. The ordinary person-in-the-pew of the independent diocese would do well to ask, "If the Episcopal Church religion is so bad, why are we following only the Episcopal Church religion?" The average person is not fooled. This is not about religion, it is about the interaction between religion and society.

Given the rulings already made by Judge Goodstein and by the South Carolina Supreme Court, the ECSC side should not expect favorable outcomes from either. However, all of this could become moot if the U.S. Supreme Court takes the appeal of the Episcopal Diocese of Ft. Worth from the Texas Supreme Court. One should not forget too that ECSC has an appeal pending in the U.S. Fourth Circuit in Richmond. Historically speaking, federal courts are more likely to recognize rights of the Episcopal Church.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


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

April 2, 2014

It is useful at this point to remind ourselves of St. Paul's well-known admonition against Christians bringing lawsuits against fellow Christians. I Corinthians 6: 1-7 (NIV):  If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment...I say this to shame you...The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. These are sobering words indeed. In the light of what has happened in South Carolina, we would all do well to reread and contemplate St. Paul's words in this passage. Have two certain groups of Christians in South Carolina completely defeated themselves already? If so, shame.

Bishop Lawrence is a man who holds the Scriptures in very high esteem; the same for his lead lawyer, Alan Runyan, a former Baptist deacon and son of Baptist missionaries. Before the schism, Lawrence and his allies spent a great deal of time and energy criticizing the Episcopal Church for being non-Biblical (particularly on the parts about homosexuality). When the Presiding Bishop visited Charleston in 2008, Lawrence proceeded to read the Bible and to preach to her from it in front of the assembled clergy. And yet, on January 4, 2013, Lawrence decided he had to do what St. Paul had said in the Scriptures not to do, bring a lawsuit against fellow Christians. That was the first lawsuit filed in the contest between the two sides in South Carolina. For the next fifteen months the legal proceedings snowballed as the two sparring side pulled out all the stops to win in court. Shame.

In sum, the lawsuits are about legitimacy. Each diocese claims to be the only legal and legitimate continuation of the old Episcopal diocese in lower South Carolina and therefore entitled to all the rights and properties of the pre-schism diocese. They have gone to court to get judicial rulings to validate their claims alone and therefore to invalidate their rival's claim. This is a contest between two institutional units. Yet, all along it has been disturbingly personal and is ever becoming more so. Shame.

A simple review of the "Chronology" post on this blog shows the unfortunate personalization of the dispute. In August of 2012, a committee of fourteen persons filed a complaint against the actions of Bishop Lawrence with the Disciplinary Board for Bishops. The Board reviewed the case and agreed that Lawrence had abandoned the communion of the Episcopal Church. Amid loud protests that Lawrence was being deprived of due process by not knowing his accusers, the names were revealed publicly in October. Lawrence's supporters sneered at the fourteen as a small band of  malcontents from the dissident minority called the Episcopal Forum. Shame.

In January, February and March of 2013, the independent diocese had court papers served to certain persons on four different occasions although none was necessary. On Jan. 23, DSC had the Temporary Restraining Order against ECSC officially served to twelve people: George Hawkins, Virginia Wilder, Callie Walpole, Lonnie Hamilton, James E. Taylor, Erin Hoyle, Barbara Mann, Melinda Lucka, Charles vonRosenberg, John Buchanan, Steve Skardon, and Michael Wright. On Jan. 31, DSC had the Temporary Injunction against ECSC served to: vonRosenberg, Lucka, and Wright. On Feb. 27, DSC had its amended lawsuit officially delivered to: Thomas Tisdale, vonRosenberg, and Wilder. On Mar. 19, DSC had its Motion for a Partial Summary Judgment served to: Tisdale, vonRosenberg, and Wilder. DSC has not given a reason why the papers had to be served at all, and has not explained why these particular people were singled out and not others. Some of the names above had no official capacity in any diocese. Shame.

DSC lawyers are moving forward with the personalization of their litigation. According to ECSC ( ) "Starting in January, the breakaway group has been taking the unusual step of hiring a process server to track down local Episcopalians at their homes and workplaces and serve them with subpoenas to appear and give depositions...So far, at least 10 people are known to have been subpoenaed by the breakaway group." The only one known publicly so far is Steve Skardon ( ) but I think we can take a wild guess at the others by looking at the lists in the preceeding paragraph. It is hard to imagine what Skardon, or almost anyone else here, might have to add to the actual litigation going on in court. Once again, DSC has not revealed why it deems it necessary to make this personal. Shame.

On March 31, 2014, ECSC lawyer Tisdale filed with the circuit court (state court) in Dorchester County, a request for Judge Goodstein "to quash subpoenas" issued by DSC and "to hold them in contempt of court." The circuit court is where the original lawsuit is proceeding. Tisdale formally asked that Goodstein stop DSC's subpoenas for personal depositions and hold DSC in contempt of court because they ignored her "stay" order that placed a freeze on all proceedings pending a ruling from the state appeals court. In January ECSC had filed an appeal with that court; the appeal was rejected in March, but ECSC filed a new appeal to the same court immediately thereafter. The new appeal is pending. Goodstein has not removed her original stay order of January. DSC proceeded to subpoena certain Episcopalians in South Carolina for official depositions anyway. Shame.

The struggle between the two dioceses is institutional and should remain that way. Only the office-holding leadership should be accountable. Others should be left out of this. Sadly, St. Paul's advice has already been ignored. The court actions are there. They cannot be undone. The record cannot be erased. Shame.

Therefore, what should the sides do from this point? How should they proceed in the future with the lawsuits that should not have been in the first place? For starters, they should remember that they are all Christians and should move forward by treating each other accordingly with all the respect, care, and compassion that Our Lord exhibited in the Gospels. The world rightly judges Christians by what they do and not what they say. There is another scriptural passage that all should take a moment to remember:  Mark 8: 36 (NIV) What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?

Someday all of this unpleasantness will be over. When that day comes, everyone should be able to look back and say they behaved as good Christians.  If not, everyone should look back in shame.