Va. judge: church secession law is constitutional
6/27/2008, 5:34 p.m. EDT
sd The Associated Press
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Eleven conservative Episcopal churches won a legal victory Friday when a circuit court judge upheld a Virginia law allowing congregations to vote to secede from their parent denominations.
The conservative church members invoked the law to split from the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia after disagreements over the role of homosexuals in the church. Those churches seek to take tens of millions of dollars in property with them. But the diocese says it's entitled to the property and has a right to settle church disputes without state interference.
In a 49-page ruling, Circuit Judge Randy Bellows of Fairfax found that the state law breaks no rules governing the separation of church and state.
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