Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Church, The Supreme Court, and Property Ownership.

A church in California is petitioning to have their appeal case heard before the Supreme Court. In essence, when a local church changed it's denomination, the Anglican church came in and took their property, property the congregation had purchased on its own. California courts said this could happen but opponents found the decision to favor one denomination, in this case a large and powerful one, over another.

The constitutional issues St. Luke's is raising before the U.S. Supreme
Court go far beyond the Episcopal Church. Every local church, temple,
synagogue, parish, spiritual center, congregation or religious group which
owns its own property through a religious corporation, and has some
affiliation with a larger religious group, is now at risk of losing its own
property in California. As a result, religious freedom is suppressed, as
those who have sacrificed to build their local religious communities are now
at risk of having their properties taken based on some past, current or
future spiritual affiliation. A United States Supreme Court decision in
favor of St. Luke's would benefit local church property owners throughout
the country because it would allow them the ability to freely exercise their
religion without risk of losing their property.

The people of St. Luke's Anglican Church have owned, and sacrificed to build
and acquire their church properties for many decades without any financial
support from the Episcopal Church. St. Luke's Anglican Church never agreed
to relinquish its property to the Episcopal Church upon a change of
religious affiliation to another part of the worldwide Anglican Communion,
and has consistently maintained that it has the right to use and possess its
own property.



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