Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Civil Suit Alleging Constitutional Violations Filed Against Multiple Defendants Including Episcopal Bishop of Connecticut, Presiding Bishop of Episcopal Church
September 27, 2005

Six Episcopal Churches, their elected officers [wardens and vestries], a number of parish communicants, and five priests in Connecticut today filed a civil complaint against Andrew Smith, Episcopal Bishop of Connecticut; the Diocese of Connecticut; Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold; and nine other individuals and/or entities. The lawsuit accuses the 12 defendants of working together to infringe upon the rights of the plaintiffs in violation of the First, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. In addition to these federal issues, the complaint outlines multiple violations of Connecticut statutes.

The civil suit follows months of theological dispute and hostile actions by Bishop Smith, who stands in “opposition to traditional Christianity and Anglican teaching.” Bishop Seabury Church, Groton; Christ Church, Watertown; Christ & The Epiphany Church, East Haven; St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Darien; Trinity Church, Bristol; and St. John’s Episcopal Church, Bristol, have consistently supported traditional Christian belief and teaching regarding human sexuality, also upheld by the Four Instruments of Anglican Unity. In light of the serious conflict, the six churches requested alternative episcopal oversight, a request denied by Bishop Smith. Central to the complaint is the contention that Bishop Smith’s actions are motivated by a desire to impose “his own singular views of canon law, church polity and theology” on the congregations and clergy because they reject his revisionist views on theology, particularly on human sexuality.

“We have been left with no choice but to seek intervention by the civil courts in order to protect our constitutional rights and serve our congregations without interference and harassment,” said the Rev. Christopher Leighton, rector of St. Paul’s, Darien. “We are being punished for upholding Biblical truth as well as Anglican teaching, faith and practice, and our ability to proclaim the Gospel is being dramatically hindered.”

The rest at the AAC website


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