Opinions on the opinion

Tobias Haller and the Mad Priest have both written insightfully about the California Supreme Court’s unanimous affirmation that breakaway parishes in that state are not entitled to take the Episcopal Church’s property with them when joining other Anglican or quasi-Anglican bodies.

Tobias focuses on the legal and moral implications of the case. One interesting insight:

Giving: When people give to the church, they give up control over what they have given. (A designated gift can, of course, allow for limited degree of control as to purpose.) However, most gifts are for the general operation of the church and its mission. Many people claim a tax deduction for such gifts; and if they were to attempt to recover them would incur a tax liability. It is an affront to the concept of stewardship to try to regain control over something you have given for the work of a larger entity. It would be very odd indeed if people could remove, say, a stained glass window, because they didn’t like the new rector’s preaching. We should not only not let our right hand know what our left hand is doing when we give open-handedly, but if we do know, forget it as soon as possible.

Many Episcopalians previously belonged to other churches. How many of us assumed we were entitled to a parting gift–say the candlesticks–or a refund when we left other churches?

Mad Priest points out, perceptively, that the court’s decision is actually a gift to schismatic Episcopalians:

Although I doubt that they will agree with me, this is good news for the schismatics. Up until now they have been a people of no integrity. They have claimed martyrdom without having suffered. They have claimed sacrifice without giving anything up and dispossession without any loss. They have claimed the past whilst being, very much, a product of their modern, consumerist culture. Now they have the opportunity to test their commitment to the principles they have claimed for themselves and tried, so militantly, to impose on the rest of the Anglican Communion.

Susan Russell’s summary of Bishop Jon Bruno’s efforts to reach an accomodation with the departing parishes before their depature is also illuminating. It should be read especially by those who have come late ot this story and spoken loudly about a purported lack of Christian charity on both sides. The facts don’t bear that out.

Anglocat’s lawyerly take is also worth a look.

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