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All Saints Pawley’s Island: Col. Nicholson Takes His Lumps

Sure looks that way:

While it is true that “[c]ourts may not engage in resolving disputes as to religious law, principle, doctrine, discipline, custom, or administration,” Pearson, 325 S.C. at 53, 478 S.E.2d at 854, the resolution of the 2005 Action does not require such judicial meddling. The 2005 case turns on a determination of whether the Articles of Amendment approved by the members of All Saints Waccamaw, Inc. on January 8, 2004 were adopted in compliance with the South Carolina Non-Profit Act. See S.C. Code Ann. § 33-31-1001, et. seq. We find that the Articles of Amendment were lawfully adopted and effectively severed the corporation’s legal ties to the ECUSA and the Diocese. Therefore, we find that the members of the majority vestry are the true officers of All Saints Parish, Waccamaw, Inc.

The Diocese of South Carolina’s dogged pursuit of this litigation against All Saints Pawley’s Island was one of the stupidest things I have ever witnessed.  And I have been roundly castigated for this opinion.  But as I noted two years ago:

This paragraph (quoted from a letter from Bishop Salmon) comes as close as anything I have seen to elaborating Salmon’s rationale for spending the Diocese’s money on this.  His position is a straightforward, American conservative “rule of law” type of stance.  Unfortunately it’s getting harder and harder to mechanistically apply this in the situation we’re in these days…

Salmon reminds me of Colonel Nicholson in The Bridge on the River Kwai.  Nicholson insists on building a top-flight bridge, irrespective of the fact that it is for the enemy, and resists its destruction.  Nicholson does this because it is the “proper” thing to do, and shows that he and his men are superior to their captors.  But the end result is that the enemy has a bridge.

The thing that DioSC and TEC HQ (who are at odds over just about everything else) have in common here is a childlike confidence in the rightness and efficacy of the legal system.  In both cases this is misplaced.

But now, as in the novel, the bridge has been blown up.


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