Tuesday, November 13, 2007

On the Civil War origins of the Virginia church property statute

This interesting article from the Washington Times about the pending litigation in Northern Virginia over the division of church property on account of splits within the Episcopal Church traces the origins of the statute at issue, Va. Code 57-9, to the day when congregations split over the issue of secession, prior to the Civil War.

The article begins:

"The largest property dispute in the history of the Episcopal Church, brought on by divisions over a homosexual bishop, is likely to turn on a Civil War-era Virginia law passed to govern churches splitting during disputes over slavery and secession," and notes that "many of the documents filed by the breakaway churches talk of 1860s splits among Baptists and Presbyterians over slavery and secession, including an 1867 article in the New York Times."

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