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August 23, 2005

Court rules in favor of orthodox Presbyterian congregation

From Agape Press...

A judge has ruled that the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles cannot confiscate the property of an orthodox parish that left the denomination over the ordination of an openly homosexual bishop.

Orange County Judge David Velasquez recently dismissed a lawsuit brought by the diocese against the dissident St. James Church in Newport Beach, saying that the parish's actions were protected by the First Amendment's freedom of speech provision. The ruling allows St. James to retain legal possession of its church buildings, property, and financial records.

The pastor of St. James, Praveen Bunyan, views the court decision as "vindication from a vindictive lawsuit." On a spiritual level, he says the church's members are simply joyous and are praising God for the "deliverance and the victory that He has rendered." Now that the legal issues have been resolved, he says St. James simply wants to "move on with freedom to worship the Lord, claim His name, and fulfill His mission."...

Two other Anglican parishes -- All Saints' Church in Long Beach and St. David's Church in North Hollywood -- are challenging lawsuits the diocese filed against them in Los Angeles County. Pastor Bunyan expects those suits will have similar outcomes to that in his parish's case.

While I agree with the decision, I'm bothered that this really was out of the court's jurisdiction. It was an internal matter. By allowing the courts to decide matters of internal church functions, this much, much more than any student led prayer, or posted Decalogue, comes closer to violating the First Amendment's prohibition against a state established church. So where are those who seem to never miss the opportunity to scream about the so-called “Separation of Church and State”?

Posted by Danny Carlton at August 23, 2005 09:32 AM

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