COLUMBIA, SC (AP) - A South Carolina court has ruled that the Diocese of South Carolina and its parish churches are the owners of their property, not The Episcopal Church.
In a decision handed down Tuesday, Circuit Court Judge Diane Goodstein wrote that the diocese and its churches are "the owners of their real, personal and intellectual property." Goodstein wrote that The Episcopal Church "has no legal, beneficial or equitable interest" in the diocese and its property.
The ruling marks the latest development in the acrimonious split between the two factions.
In 2012, the conservative Diocese of South Carolina separated from the more liberal national Episcopal Church over a variety of theological issues. The breakaway churches sued to protect the use of the diocesan name and half a billion dollars' worth of property.