When did recognizing that when the overwhelming majority of American citizens vote according to the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia that should not be considered "a good idea for governance of the state?"Pull up a chair and join us!
In Virginia the former Established Church should not get preferential treatment because it was once the Established Church of Virginia, indeed it was The Church of Virginia. The people had no say.
A primary principle of our form of government is the free vote. The churches that separated voted their conscience and thousands - thousands - voted to separate, a vote that has been now recognized by the Commonwealth of Virginia. It is this vote that is being opposed by the Episcopal Church.
But they can't oppose the vote openly - it would be a PR disaster. When they took the depositions of those who were in charge of the voting procedures, it became clear that if they got anywhere near challenging the vote it would be a PR disaster. These are regular American citizens exercising their freedom to vote.
As for the property, what matters is what is on the deeds. We do not have implied trusts in Virginia - what matters is what is on the deeds.
The Diocese of Virginia does indeed own property - it does - and the Bishop's name is on the deeds as it should be. Bishop Lee didn't and Bishop Johnston won't own the property himself, he holds it in trust for the Diocese. If the Diocese wanted to hold in trust the local parish properties (and in fact, the bishop's name is on the deeds of some parish properties in Virginia!), then he should have done it! But as we were reminded in court, the diocese recognized that there would be a massive revolt if they even attempted it. Why? Because the parishes understood - and continue to understand - that they hold title to their own property.
That became abundantly clear when Christ Church Alexandria heard the rumor (a rumor so strong, Pohick Church heard it too) that the bishop was going to require them to transfer their deeds to him - the swiftness of calming down and reassuring the parish that this was not indeed the case was something I saw with my own eyes.
To assume that the Episcopal Church can simply reclaim hierarchical powers that it had when it was the Established Church of Virginia is ludicrous. A truly hierarchical church like the Roman Catholic Church in Virginia has correctly observed the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Roman Catholic property is held in trust by the Roman Catholic Bishop. Open the books - you'll see his name.
What's at stake here is whether the people have the freedom to vote, that the vote won't be taken away from them when the outcome doesn't suit the Episcopal Church and whether we can trust what is entrusted on the deeds to actually MEAN what they say.
Maybe that's why it's called a Trust.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Conversation continues on the Episcopal Church's appeal to nullify votes in the Commonwealth of Virginia that didn't go their way
Grab a chai and catch up on the conversation on the topic Virginia Supreme Court agrees to hear The Episcopal Church appeals on Virginia law 57-9 underway here. My latest post there is this: