Do you know the old saying: What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander? The ruling handed down by a South Carolina judge in the cases of a breakaway parish versus the Diocese of South Carolina is most certainly sauce for somebody.
Episcopal News Service presents the facts of the matter. But the “takeaway” as editors like to say, is that if you want the Episcopal Church to violate its constitution and canons to advance your agenda, don’t be offended when the offer is refused, and don’t expect civil authorities to back you up.
The significant parts of the South Carolina ruling are these:
- In a hierarchical church such as ours, Diocesan and Episcopal Church canons concerning of membership supersede parochial by-laws.
- A judge may determine if a congregation is departing from the "doctrine, discipline and worship" of this church by how the congregation adheres to the constitution and canons of the church. Judge Thomas W. Cooper, Jr., wrote that a "quintessentially religious question is left up to the church authorities" and defined that authority in terms of the constitution and canons of the church.
- He said it "constitute(s) a fraud" to take a parish into a new denomination when all of the current members freely chose to enter the existing Church.
If the ruling in South Carolina is embraced by other states, the strategy of those trying to break up the Episcopal Church will collapse under its own weight.