Wednesday, May 02, 2007


The conservative Episco-blogosphere is aghast that the conservative Diocese of South Carolina has won its latest round to keep All Saints Pawley's Island. See: Court says church membership rulings rest with higher authorities. The ruling undercuts the leverage conservative parishes have by making it less likely they will leave The Episcopal Church.

So, why would the Diocese of South Carolina continue a vigourous legal battle to keep the Pawley's Island property? Is the diocese perhaps less likely to leave The Episcopal Church than previously thought? You will remember the stumbling block in the consents for South Carolina's bishop-elect -- statements that some interpreted as a willingness to follow the lead of Pawley's Island and take the diocese out of The Episcopal Church.

Has the Diocese of South Carolina blundered, or is it behaving rationally? There are at least two theories consistent with a rational legal strategy on the part of the diocese.

One is the power-politics theory. It stems from the current fragmentation of conservative Anglican-like entities. Consider the negotiations that would surround an attempt to reconsolidate orthodox Anglicans in lower South Carolina. Pawley's Island is presently the center of the Anglican Mission in America. Who would be most likely to be in leadership? There's no love lost between the diocese and AMiA.

Two is what I call the judo-schismatics theory. Consider the potential for property disputes should the diocese leave TEC. There is a well-organized group of liberal Episcopalians in the diocese who would oppose this move. The diocese does not have an interest in giving them tools to claim church property and stay loyal to The Episcopal Church.

My pet theory is the second.

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