Virginia’s anti-gay Episcopal churches got some love from the state’s Attorney General this week. Eleven churches broke away last year to align with international Anglicans who disapprove of the US-branches gay-inclusive policies. The split races some serious questions about property, namely: who gets what?
Now Virginia A.G. Bob McDonnell has taken the dissenters’ side:
The attorney general urged Circuit Judge Randy I. Bellows to follow a state law dating back to the Civil War era in resolving the dispute.
That law allows a majority vote of the congregation to determine ownership and affiliation when a “division” has occurred within a religious denomination.
The Episcopal Church argues that the state law is unconstitutional because it requires that the court wade into theological issues such as whether a schism has occurred within the Episcopal denomination.
In his motion, McDonnell writes that the Constitution “does not require that local church property disputes be resolved by deferring to national and regional church leaders.”
Rather than examining the actual property contracts, McDonnell hopes the court will simply look into whether the dissociation was done “properly”.