would alter Rules on Church Property
02 February 2005
Rosalind Helderman and Alan Cooperman
bill before the Virginia Senate has alarmed the Episcopal Church
which is deeply torn over the ordination of gay ministers and
the blessing of same-sex marriages because, they say, the measure
would give local congregations unprecedented powers to break away
from their national denominations.
bill (Bill 1305), now on the Senate floor, would allow congregations
to vote to leave their denominations and keep their church buildings
and land, unless a legally binding document such as a deed specified
denominations have long had rules that prevent dissenting congregations
from leaving the parent church and taking their land, buildings
and other property with them. Since 1979, the U.S. Supreme Court
and numerous other courts have upheld those rules in all but a
few exceptional circumstances.