November 10, 2017
CONTACT: Briley Hughes
Columbia, S.C. – Today, in a filing with the South Carolina Supreme Court, over 100 pastors and faith leaders across denominational and racial lines came together in an amicus curiae brief asking the Court for a re-hearing of the case The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina et al. v. The Episcopal Church (TEC). The pastors argued that the Court’s earlier decision in favor of TEC did not properly apply neutral principles of law, which threatens their religious liberty. They further argued that confusion surrounding the actual meaning of the fractured multi-opinion earlier decision has created uncertainty for the property rights of their churches.
Dr. Gary Hollingsworth, Executive Director of the SC Baptist Convention and a passionate signatory of the brief, said: “One of the founding principles of our nation has been religious freedom and any threat to that freedom is an affront to every other freedom. We stand with our Anglican brethren in that same spirit.”
Pastor Jeremy Rivers of Body of Christ Overcomer Ministries Church said “Everyone has the right, as I see it, to represent Christ and spread the Gospel, and I stand with these churches because one day my freedom could be at stake. I have gladly signed my name to this brief.”
Senator Chip Campsen initiated development of the brief and assembly of the team that produced it. Campsen represents Charleston, Beaufort and Colleton Counties in the South Carolina Senate. “Thousands of my constituents are on the verge of being stripped of historic and valuable churches, which they and their ancestors built and paid for over the course of three centuries. This would be a major blow to property rights, freedom of association and religious liberty.” Campsen concluded, “Hopefully the brief, authored by foremost First Amendment scholars, will persuade the Court to avert that tragic outcome.”
The Amici Curiae Brief of 100 Religious Leaders in Support of Respondents’ Petition for Rehearing was authored by former Circuit Judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit Michael W. McConnell, who is the Richard and Frances Mallery Professor and Director of the Constitutional Law Center at Stanford University Law School, along with Steffen Johnson and Christopher Mills of the law firm Winston & Strawn LLP of Washington, DC.
Read the brief here.
Read more about the case here.