Monday, November 24, 2014


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

A hundred years ago, the Keystone Cops amused moviegoers in numerous delightful silent films. These policemen, supposedly the keepers of order, were anything but orderly. Theirs was a world of zany, frantic, unending mayhem. They ran around in wacky chaos often doing more harm than good, usually to themselves. The far-right wing fringe of the "Anglican" world is now populated by the descendants of the Keystone Cops, except they are not in the least bit funny.

For years, reactionary Episcopalians (they prefer to be called "orthodox") ranted and railed against the Episcopal Church for its social policies of equal rights for minorities, women, and homosexuals. The bond that held them together was opposition to the Episcopal Church. It was a negative tie. Many of them peeled off the Church as individuals, parishes, and then majorities of dioceses. They went off in every different direction. Arguably the most important of the early advocates of secession was Chuck Murphy, the rector of All Saints, Pawleys Island. In 1997 he hosted the First Promise conference that denounced the Episcopal Church. A few years later he led the creation of a new group, the Anglican Mission in America and was ordained a bishop. All Saints declared its independence from the diocese and the two began a decade-long war over the property. Finally the state supreme court came down on the side of the parish. Along the way, Murphy aligned with Rwanda until that turned into a visible and embarrassing falling out in 2011. He also helped found the Anglican Church in North America, the designated reactionary replacement for the Episcopal Church, then had a falling out with that bunch. All Saints parish split up with the majority going along with ACNA while Murphy and the minority kept with AMiA. This is the future of the anti-Episcopal Church faction in a nutshell: ever splitting chaos. There are now seven "Anglican" jurisdictions in South Carolina, each one claiming to be the only authentic one. Actually, only one of them, the Episcopal Church, is part of the worldwide Anglican Communion and recognized by the Archbishop of Canterbury as such.

The first four cases of majorities of dioceses leaving the Episcopal Church eventually formed the ACNA. This, however, is a diverse and loose confederation bonded by very little, mostly opposition to the social policies of the Episcopal Church. Its views are all over the map. Mark Lawrence stubbornly refuses to unite his diocese with ACNA, for reasons still publicly unknown. He did attend the recent consecration of the new archbishop of ACNA in Atlanta but did not serve as one of the consecrators as he is not in ACNA.

The latest episode in the chaos on the Anglican right deals with homosexuality, their favorite old stalking horse. Rather suddenly, marriage equality has become virtually the law of the land, much to their shock. Knocked off their feet in the historic tidal wave, they have fallen apart and turned on each other, much like the Keystone Cops, in frantic disarray. Ephraim Radner and Christopher Seitz, two well-known highly conservative critics of the Episcopal Church policies and frequent contributors to the website called the Anglican Communion Institute (which has nothing to do officially with the Anglican Communion) put out something called "The Marriage Pledge." ( ). In angry reaction to marriage equality, it calls on clergy to refuse to participate in the civic state regarding marriage: "We will no longer serve as agents of the state in marriage." It asks clergy and laity to sign the pledge online. In reality, this is only a silly and peevish rear-guard snipe at the inevitability of history.  They know they have lost the war.

The new ACNA archbishop, Foley Beach, is none too pleased with the "Pledge." Quite the contrary, he posted a terse letter asking people not to sign it. ( ). The reactionary blogosphere and its predictable Greek chorus exploded with reactions all over the board on this new comedy of errors. Whatever next? Watching the anti-Episcopal Church faction tear itself apart has become a new spectator sport. One may need a score card, however. Who's on first?

True to form, the anti-Episcopal faction in South Carolina has insisted on going its own way. Stubbornly refusing to join ACNA and any illegitimate or legitimate Anglican province, it concocted a unique "oversight" scheme through its allies in the reactionary "Global South." It is meaningless. Lawrence claims his bunch is an extra-territorial diocese in the Anglican Communion. Nonsense. There is no such thing, never has been. The curious latest lurch in the Lawrence diocese is on homosexuality, the old wedge issue. Before the schism, Lawrence insisted God assigned gender and no on was really born homosexual. It was a learned lifestyle choice. Recently, the post-schism diocese promoted a talk by Prof. Wes Hill, a Trinity seminary professor who says he is a homosexual man by nature. Homosexuality is alright, he says, as long as the homosexual person remains celibate. This is a major step in the right direction for the Lawrence diocese. For that, we should be grateful. But, it does sort of negate the whole immediate cause of the schism. (Note: a couple of days ago the DSC website dropped any mention of Prof. Hill. Who knows what is going on here?)

Chaos, even anarchy, on the Anglican far right is inevitable. It is already happening. The factor that made this group was a negative, hatred of the social reforms of the Episcopal Church. A negative cannot create a positive. It remains a negative. Once the binding force of negativism was removed, the once-bound parts flew off into every different direction. The seventeenth century English philosopher Thomas Hobbes wrote that the state must provide an authoritarian ruling power to keep society in check as people were by nature, "nasty, mean and brutish." Left alone they self-destruct. While one should disagree with this too-dismal view of human nature, one should recognize the need for some overriding order of things. Once unity is broken, chaos results. No institution is perfect. The Episcopal Church is not perfect, but it is the unity we all need for our own best interest. It is the unity of differences that binds us in a common purpose. We do not have to agree on everything, but we are all better off in our overriding unity than in the chaos of disorder outside it. 


Thursday, November 20, 2014


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

Unless there is a last-minute intervention from the U.S. Supreme Court, which is highly unlikely, South Carolina will become the thirty-fourth state in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage at noon today, November 20, 2014. Numerous couples have lined up to get their marriage licenses that would have been unthinkable even a few short years ago.

The courts have cleared the way. The SC Supreme Court had stayed the implementation last week but that has expired. Federal courts have opened the way for the marriages to proceed. State Attorney General Wilson said he would appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court for an eleventh-hour block. Judging from recent actions, that court will not touch this matter.

Times have changed, and fast. This is more bad news for the Lawrence diocese that broke away from the Episcopal Church in defiance of the Church's stand for equal treatment for homosexual people. Lawrence insisted Christianity should not be about "indiscriminate inclusivity." The exclusionary independent diocese that simply condemned homosexuals is being passed by in the rush of history.

UPDATE;     Noon, Nov. 20.      The U.S. Supreme Court denied Wilson's emergency appeal this morning. Interestingly enough, the rejection came from three highly conservative justices. The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, 4th Circuit, had already dismissed Wilson's appeal. According to news reports, Wilson has vowed to keep fighting although just how remains unclear since he has run out of courts.

Marriage equality has arrived in South Carolina. The first marriage licenses to same-sex couples were issued yesterday (Nov. 19) in Charleston. The rest of the state is expected to follow today now that the Supreme Court has denied the state's appeal.

The Episcopal Church bishop, Charles vonRosenberg, announced months ago that he would permit the blessings of same-sex unions. He left implementation up to the local parishes and missions. The independent bishop, Mark Lawrence, has been well-known as an outspoken opponent of the blessing of same-sex unions and has a record of opposing rights for homosexuals in the Episcopal Church when he was a bishop in the Church. He "disaffiliated" from the Church in 2012 rather than recognize the rights that the Episcopal Church had granted to homosexuals. Lawrence claimed the Church had discarded the ancient Christian understanding of marriage. In truth, the blessing of a same-sex union is not a marriage ceremony. The prayer book did not change the definition of marriage (the same prayer book now in use in the independent diocese). However, the majority of the old diocese went along with him anyway. Later, the schismatic leaders made the ludicrous claim the schism was never about homosexuality. Having used the issue as the wedge to pry away the majority, they dropped it like a hot potato because they knew it was a demographic time bomb. They raced away from the issue of homosexuality and are still running. Have you noticed the almost complete silence from that side on the new events in SC? Sorry, you can run from history but you cannot escape.   

Sunday, November 16, 2014

(or, "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers." Shakespeare's Henry VI, Part 2)

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

Is it possible to have a reconciliation of the two dioceses? Is it probable? If so, will there be a reconciliation in the foreseeable future?

On the surface, one would have to dismiss outright any notion that the two hostile sides would ever get back together. At first glance, the thought seems just as absurd now as it has for the past two years. There has been just too much hostility. But on second thought, if one looks closer at the not so obvious state of matters and the subtle changes going on, maybe it is not such a far-fetched idea after all. I would like to offer some thoughts on why reconciliation might actually occur somewhere down the road in the not too distant future.

1. The old diocesan leaders gave as their reasons for leaving the Episcopal Church theology, polity, and sexuality. On theology they said the Church had abandoned the ancient belief in the uniqueness of Christ. On polity, they said the Church had acted illegally and unconstitutionally. On sexuality they said the Church was promoting same-sex marriage.

These are actually weak arguments that are fundamentally untrue. In the first place, the Episcopal Church has never changed its belief in the uniqueness of Christ. That would take an act of the General Convention. That will never happen. What the old leaders were referring to were some controversial remarks by the previous and present presiding bishops. Whatever they said, they spoke only for themselves. A presiding bishop is an administrative officer who has no authority to set any doctrine or belief. The old diocesan leaders were wrong to extrapolate certain remarks as the beliefs of the Church.

On the second point, the Episcopal Church has changed its canons as it has done throughout its long history. The idea that the Church did this in the last few years illegally and unconstitutionally and that they were out to "get" Mark Lawrence is nonsense. The Church has almost universally accepted the canonical changes as perfectly legal.

On the third point, the Episcopal Church has approved the blessing of same-sex unions at the discretion of the local bishop (if Lawrence had stayed in the Church he could have blocked the blessings in all of the eastern half of South Carolina). This is not marriage and was never claimed to be. The old leaders' oft-repeated assertion that the Episcopal Church was changing the definition and understanding of traditional marriage is simply not true.

Weak and untrue arguments will crumble in time. As time passes and truth emerges, communicants in the old diocese will gradually realize that they have been misinformed and misled by their trusted authorities. This will happen. The empty rationale supporting the whole schism will collapse like a house of cards.

2. The old diocesan leaders also said leaving the Episcopal Church was necessary to preserve the true faith. As the excuses for the schism evaporate, so will this notion. In fact, no diocese is required to have the blessing of same sex unions. Numerous bishops announced long ago they would not allow it. Lawrence could have done that. The Episcopal Church remains broad and diverse with a wide range of experiences. Most of the conservative dioceses have remained in the Church. They saw no reason to duplicate what South Carolina had done. Not one bishop or one diocese has followed South Carolina's lead.

3. As information about the schism gradually comes forth, the assertion that Lawrence was unfairly treated by the Episcopal Church will also prove false. The truth is the Church went out of its way and the presiding bishop leaned as far as she could to accommodate Lawrence and the diocesan leadership. The facts show that the small clique controlling the diocesan structure planned a "disassociation" before Lawrence was even accused of abandonment. When the crisis came, Lawrence voluntarily left the Episcopal Church. He was not forced out. He could easily have made amends with the Church authorities. He refused to meet with the presiding bishop again. He refused; she did not. It is not true historically that Mark Lawrence was unfairly treated by the Episcopal Church.

4. The direct, or immediate, cause of the schism was the issue of homosexuality. This is easily demonstrated by the well-known historical facts. For years, the old diocesan leadership fought against the ordination of homosexual persons as priests, then bishops, the blessing of same-sex unions, and the rights of transgendered people. They insisted that God assigns gender to each person and that no one has the right to question that, act differently, or try to change it. Homosexuality, they believed was only a chosen lifestyle. It was not inborn or natural. When one resolution expressing compassion for homosexuals came up for vote in the diocesan convention, the assembly almost fell apart trying to come to grips with the topic. Seeing the impending disaster, the diocesan leaders quickly withdrew the resolution and "The Rubric of Love" died.  

There is now a very important but subtle change going on in the attitude of the diocesan leadership. They are promoting a man who says he is homosexual by nature, that is, it is not by learning. The change is to accept homosexuality as a state of birth, therefore God-given. This is a major change in the old attitude of the diocesan leaders towards the issue of homosexuality. It is far removed from what they were saying about gays only recently.

South Carolina, and the whole, country is moving toward full equality for homosexual persons including marriage equality. Within a few days, South Carolina will have legal marriage for same-gender couples. The ancient prejudices against homosexual persons are melting away quickly.

Since homosexuality was the direct cause, or the trigger, for the schism, as that issue fades away so will the justification for the schism. Society will come to accept rights for homosexuals. Communicants will have second thoughts about the wisdom of their old choices and popular support for the schism from the Episcopal Church will fade away.

5. A new presiding bishop will be elected next year. Jefferts-Schori has announced she will not be a candidate. This will remove a lightning rod from the picture as the conservatives and their loud Greek chorus on the Internet have focused all their negative feelings onto this one person (unfairly I think). Whoever replaces her will at least have a fresh start.

6. Schism is turning out to be more expensive than people thought. As time goes by and the enthusiasm for the costly fight fades, I expect it will become increasing harder to raise money to pay for the never ending litigation. The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to settle the dispute. It is doomed to drag on in state and federal courts for as long as imaginable. The cost will be staggering. At some point, people will cry-- enough.

There are signs in both dioceses that reconciliation is possible.

7. On the Episcopal Church side, the Church and its diocese have never laid claim to the local parish properties. To my knowledge, Bishop vonRosenberg has never said he was out to get the property now held by the departed parishes. His claim in court is for the legal rights of the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, a claim that Lawrence brought to court first, in the state circuit court, in St. George. The Episcopal Church did not attack the diocese as the old leaders claimed. In fact, the independent diocese sued the Episcopal Church in court first. Moreover, vonRosenberg has only "released" the 103 clergy who adhered to Lawrence. He did not depose them from Holy Orders. He made their reconciliation with the Church easy. All along, Bishop vonRosenberg has declared his goal as the reconciliation of the whole diocese.

8. On the independent diocesan side there are also signs of possible reconciliation. Lawrence was not deposed as the bishop. He was "released and removed" (Dec. 5, 2012) as the bishop after he announced his departure from the Episcopal Church. As I read the canons (and I am no authority on this) I believe Lawrence might well be able to take his case to the House of Bishops for reinstatement, or possibly have the presiding bishop revoke the certificate of release and removal. At any rate, Lawrence is not permanently banned from the Episcopal Church. The Disciplinary Board for Bishops only charged Lawrence with abandonment as a sort of grand jury. He was not given a trial by the House of Bishops. He was never convicted or deposed. The Church has not closed the door on Lawrence.

Indeed, Lawrence has said that he was not "restricted" by the presiding bishop on October 15, 2012, because she did not send him a hand-signed order (only an e-mail). Therefore, he rejected her certificate of release and removal on December 5 as equally illegal. To my knowledge, Lawrence has never stated verbally or in writing that he had renounced his Holy Orders in the Episcopal Church (the PB took his resignation from the Church as his de facto renunciation). To this day he claims that he still holds full and valid Holy Orders. Apparently Lawrence himself has not closed the door on the Episcopal Church.

Moreover, Lawrence has refused to link up the independent diocese with the Anglican Church in North America, the GAFCON-supported church meant to replace the supposedly corrupt Episcopal Church. All of the earlier four seceding dioceses joined the ACNA. Instead, Lawrence has created a link with Global South, an arrangement that really has no meaning and has never been even described.

Meanwhile, within the independent diocese life goes on as if it is an Episcopal church. The last convention passed a resolution that the only service book to be used is the Episcopal Church Book of Common Prayer. This rejects the new service book of the ACNA. Indeed, communicants commonly believe they ARE the Episcopal Church in lower South Carolina because that is what their leaders have told them. There seems to have been no attempt to change the pre-schism religion which, of course, should bring doubt onto the original reasons for leaving the Episcopal Church. There remain many common ties shared by the two dioceses as charities, groups (as Daughters of the King), and institutions. They even share clergy. Nine priests and three deacons are listed with both dioceses. The two are still linked in many ways.

I believe that the schism in the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina is unnatural, unjustified, and unnecessary and all of this will become apparent. In time, things will change and the average person-in-the-pew will reconsider the direction they have gone. It probably will not happen overnight, however, since the schism was thirty years in the making. There are obviously good reasons for a reconciliation not the least of which is the fortune in money the ongoing litigation will cost. I cannot see how anyone benefits from the unchristian lawsuits, except possibly the lawyers.

"The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers." HENRY VI, Part 2, Act 4, Scene 2.

It appears me that there are signs on both sides of the schism of longing to return to union. True enough, they are between the lines and below the surface. But I believe they are there nevertheless.

I think it is time to heal and restore the broken and hurting relationships, end the awful scandal of the schism, return to the Church of the revered ancestors, and reunite a wrongfully fractured community of Christ to carry the Gospel into the world near and far. The doors are open. Where are the leaders with the courage, humility, and faith to do the right thing? 

What do you think? E-mail me at .

Friday, November 14, 2014


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

South Carolina, marriage equality is at hand. News broke yesterday that a federal judge in Charleston, Richard Mark Gergel, overruled the SC state ban on same-sex marriage holding that it violated basic rights guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution, particularly in the Fourteenth Amendment. He said his ruling would go into effect on November 20. It was a moment of rejoicing for those who have advocated for and favored human rights and equality of all people in South Carolina. Of course, the state authorities said they would appeal Gergel's ruling. Last month, the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling overturning the Virginia ban on same-sex marriage was upheld when the U.S. Supreme Court refused to take the case. South Carolina, North Carolina, and West Virginia are also in the Fourth Circuit. Of all those states, only South Carolina stubbornly refused to allow same-sex marriages to proceed. Both Governor Haley and Attorney General Wilson not surprisingly vowed to fight on defying the inevitable. As we all know, the great majority of states have established marriage equality. South Carolina will too. It is just a matter of time. 

For many years, the leaders of the pre-schism Diocese of South Carolina fought tooth and nail against the Episcopal Church's efforts to promote equality for homosexual persons. Lawrence was once fond of railing against "indiscriminate inclusivity." As with the nation and marriage equality, the majority in the national Church gradually agreed to remove ancient prejudices and support equality for all people. It was a fine moment in the long history of the Church. However, South Carolina, ever fond of self-inflicted pain, broke away from the Church rather than accept the tide of history.

On innumerable occasions, Bishop Lawrence expounded on his view that God assigns gender to each and every person and no one should question, let alone interfere with that divine order. He went on at length about that even the day after the special convention on Nov. 17, 2012 in an interview with Anglican TV. That is why I find it intriguing that the old leaders are now promoting an openly homosexual man as a speaker in SC on Nov. 15. Wes Hill, a professor at Trinity School for Ministry, the incubator of reactionary "Anglicanism" in America, is a self-announced gay man. He says that gay people should refrain from actually following their sexual desires and should develop something called "spiritual" (celibate) relationships. I do not support that viewpoint, but I would like to think that the Diocese of South Carolina's promotion of a gay man is one tiny step in the right direction.

Only a few years ago, Hill's witness among conservative Christians would have been impossible. Anti-gay forces then were pushing "conversion therapy," that is, programs to "turn" homosexuals into heterosexuals. Under that system, an announced gay man would have been put through the wringer to try to force him to be straight. It was an unsuccessful, absurd, even cruel, tactic that has been quietly abandoned. Now the standard talking point among anti-gay elements is to "accept" gays as long as they do not act out their sexual inclinations. This is just as absurd, wrong, and in my opinion, cruel. It too will fall away as society continues to throw off discrimination and recognize equality for all people. This will arrive in SC too.

The secessionists who left the Episcopal Church because of its stand on homosexuality are now running away from that issue as fast as possible. Unfortunately, they had already run so far in the wrong direction that they will have to race inhumanly fast to backtrack enough. They know that time and history, not to mention demographics, are against them. Surely it would have been better for all of us if we had all extended Christ's love and compassion to all people as we should have to start with. Once again, South Carolina would have been spared a great deal of pain and suffering.

UPDATE - Nov. 14. The independent diocesan website has announced that Wes Hill's talk that had been scheduled for Nov. 15 has been postponed. The Rev. and Mrs. Jamie Sosnowski suffered a personal loss that led to the postponement of his ordination that had been scheduled at St. John's on Johns Island on Sunday. Hill's talk, to be held at the same place, was cancelled out of respect. It will be rescheduled to coincide with the ordination that will be set at a later time.     

Monday, November 3, 2014


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

On November 3, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it had denied the Episcopal Church's petition for a writ of certiorari. That meant it will not consider the Church's appeal of the Fort Worth case. What does this mean for South Carolina?

Of all of the four earlier cases where Episcopal dioceses claimed to have "disassociated" from the Episcopal Church, that of Fort Worth was most similar to South Carolina. Fort Worth had been a highly traditional diocese for many years (actually more reactionary than South Carolina). In fact, it was one of only three dioceses of the 110 in the Church to refuse to admit women to Holy Orders (San Joaquin, Mark Lawrence's home diocese, and Quincy were the others). At least in South Carolina there were a few female priests and deacons although the power structure was and is overwhelmingly male. As in South Carolina, the bishop, Jack Iker, refused to submit a formal renunciation of orders or a resignation. Instead, as Lawrence, he declared the diocese independent of the Episcopal Church with himself remaining as the bishop. As with Lawrence, the presiding bishop interpreted Iker's words and deeds as de facto renunciation of his ordination in the Episcopal Church and issued a release. Both Iker and Lawrence denied they had renounced their orders and refused to accept any Episcopal Church actions against themselves. Both were deposed by the presiding bishop and were not removed by the House of Bishops as were the cases of Schofield of San Joaquin, and Duncan of Pittsburgh. Lawrence, like Iker, kept the titles, rights, and properties of the old diocese. Each man persisted in calling himself the Episcopal bishop and his group the Episcopal diocese.

On litigation, however, the secessionist diocese of South Carolina was much more assertive and aggressive, suing the Church in a chosen court before it could reorganize the diocese and masterfully claiming the legal field which it has dominated ever since, for nearly two years. In Fort Worth there was first a court decision in the Church's favor, then one in the separatist diocese's favor, then the Texas state supreme court ruling. It said that the case had to be sent back down to the lower court to be judged on the principle of "neutrality."

The South Carolina court is also following "neutrality." This is the principle that the dispute must be judged only under state property laws, not as a religious dispute, and that both sides will be treated neutrally, or equally, under state laws. In fact, this gives a great boost to the separatist side. The Episcopal Church claim is that this whole matter is a religious dispute and should be left to the Church as an internal problem within a hierarchical institution. Neutrality invalidates that. If the secessionist diocese can prove it is an independent and separate legal entity under state law, removed from the national Church, and the court will accept this retroactively, then the diocese can maintain its possession of the rights, titles, and properties. In the circuit court trial last July, Judge Goodstein repeatedly invoked neutrality.

At the moment, South Carolina is awaiting two separate legal initiatives. In the end of the state circuit court trial in July, Judge Goodstein said she would release her judgment after ninety days. This could be at any time now. However, it may take much longer than ninety days to wade through the ocean of transcripts and exhibits (evidence) which run to countless thousands of pages. She herself said the case was very complicated and that she had a lot to learn about it.

The second legal path is in the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, in Richmond. On February 5, 2014, the Episcopal Church diocese of South Carolina filed an appeal of Judge Houck's ruling against the Church diocese. The diocese filed a brief in the court on April 7. The independent diocese of South Carolina then filed a brief in response. There has been no indication at all as to when the U.S. appeals court will issue an order. It could be at any time.

The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to take up the Episcopal Church appeal. At the moment there is no new initiative on the horizon although one could appear at any time. The Court did not give an explanation for the denial, but it may well have been reluctance to interfere with ongoing litigation between a state supreme court and a lower court, as was the case in Texas. Thus, the denial may have been more from procedure than principle. In future, the Court may be willing to take a case that clearly involves the rights of a hierarchical religious institution to govern itself, and/or involves the application of neutral principles, even retroactively, with such an institution.

As for South Carolina, the indication in the state circuit court was to favor the independent diocesan side. I expect Judge Goodstein will rule in their favor. The U.S. appeals court is a mystery that no one can predict. That court, however, has a majority of Democrats on the bench and has recently taken a decidedly progressive posture, as in its rejection of the Virginia law against same-sex marriage, a decision the U.S. Supreme Court refused to consider and therefore let stand.

At any rate, the litigation in South Carolina is most likely to drag on for years. Judge Goodstein's decision will be appealed by whichever side loses. That probably means another several years on appeals. At the moment there is no end of litigation in sight.

If the U.S. Court of Appeals refuses to intervene, I wonder if there could be an out-of-court settlement in South Carolina. After all, there is precedent for such. Several times there were possible compromise settlements offered in the diocese v. All Saints, Waccamaw case although none was accepted. The Church diocese has not said it demands the local parish properties back. In spite of the independent diocese's claims, the Episcopal Church and its diocese have made no effort to "hijack" the local church properties. The real issue of contention is on the diocesan assets. This could be negotiated.

If I were advising one of the two sides in South Carolina, I would say that once the circuit court decision comes down and once the U.S. Appeals Court rules, meet the other side and negotiate for a reasonable settlement. This would require compromise which is always give-and-take. Reasonable people can make reasonable agreements. It would end the unchristian lawsuits, save both sides untold dollars in lawyer fees, and promote harmony between the now-contentious Christian denominations.

What do you think? E-mail me at