Saturday, January 16, 2010
has this very helpful piece
about the current round of church-property-dispute cases, and their importance to religious freedom. As the article describes, these cases often involve efforts by more conservative or orthodox communities to break away -- and take the property with them -- from national "mainline" Protestant churches. It's tricky: I tend to be sympathetic to the "breakaway" communities' understanding of the implications for morality of (broadly speaking) the Christian tradition, but find myself disagreeing with my friends (some of whom are mentioned or quoted in the piece) who believe that a local community's decision should control church-property destiny. To be sure, these cases are often complicated and fact specific. But, we should be careful of uncritically imagining that a very "protestant" way of thinking about churches, and church-authority, is in fact merely a "neutral" way of resolving such disputes.