Thursday, May 12, 2005

Funny, You Don't Look Ugandan

This one gets more interesting all the time.

All Saints, a local Episcopal church in Long Beach, along with two other Episcopal parishes in the L.A./Orange County area, withdrew from the ECUSA a few months ago and was accepted as a parish in an Anglican diocese in Uganda. All this was precipitated by the Robinson affair.

The local diocese, not surprisingly, has taken legal action to get the property back.

And you're thinking, "What's the matter with him? We haven't got enough trouble in our own Ecclesia Romana that he has to go looking for more amongst the Episcopalians?"

Ordinarily, I probably wouldn't. But now in this morning's paper there was this: "Breakaway Churches to get day in Court" which says in part,

On June 9 in Orange County Superior Court, the three churches will present similar motions to Judge David Velasquez claiming the suit by the diocese infringes on First Amendment protections of freedom of speech and religion.

The motion, known as an anti-SLAPP motion, is typically filed by individuals or groups who say they are being sued for exercising their First Amendment rights, usually of free speech and petition. SLAPP is an acronym for strategic lawsuits against public participation.

I don't really have a dog in this fight, although my instinctive reaction is to favor All Saints and traditional morality. But it's difficult to see this as a SLAPP suit. All Saints is represented by a member of the ominously named firm of Payne and Fears, who did not just fall off the turnip wagon, so we can presume they know whereof they speak. It should be very interesting to see how this sort of intra-church dispute can be framed as an anti-SLAPP case.

[This site can tell you more than you really wanted to know about SLAPP cases in California; but it also has some short definitions, too.]