Religion: Battle over Breakaways

In 1966, two Southern Presbyterian congregations in Savannah, Ga., voted to break away from their parent church on the ground that it was becoming too liberal in both theology and ethics. When the two maverick churches took legal action to keep their property—valued at $150,000—the Presbyterian Church in the U.S. entered a counterplea on behalf of the denomination. A lower court upheld the claim of the congregations, and so last week on appeal did the Georgia Supreme Court.

Understandably, property is an important issue to institutional Christianity, and churches have different ways of controlling it. For example, the Southern Baptists, Missouri Synod...

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