A Post To The HOBD Listserv Regarding 815 and Litigation

Yes, an attorney’s bill is subject to attorney client privilege, meaning the bill can’t be subpoenaed from the attorney. However, the amounts spent on legal proceedings are not privileged vis-a-vis the bishops requesting this information from a church in which they have a stake as bishops. It is much like a shareholder requesting such information. Such information has to be publically disclosed by publically traded companies. You, I, and any deputy or bishop should have the right to know whether or not 815 is following our established budgetary priorities. We have a right to know how much money is being spent on litigation by 815.

Moreover, if General Convention does not have that right, then it no longer controls the purse strings and is an utter sham as far as governing our church. If two bishops who are members of the junior house can’t get this information, we need to be asking why.

Something tells me that the Executive Council does not want us to know what was being spent on litigation, because if we did know we would not be too happy to see that much money was being spent on litigation. It may also exceed the values of the property over which we are litigating, which makes no economic sense.

However, the sad part is, even if we did know what was being spent by 815 on litigation, you have to add to that what Dioceses are spending on litigation.

I simply do not understand why we are not negotiating these issues. Based on the remarks of our Presiding Bishop, this is an insignificant minority leaving our church – both in numbers and money. Either what the Presiding Bishop says is not true about the “minority” leaving our church, or we are spending money on litigation out of spite rather than to preserve the church’s patrimony for purposes of future ministry. My theory is that litigation is being used as a scare tactic to keep conservatives and moderates who would otherwise leave our church in the church. The assets at issue become irrelevant, and it becomes about fear. A church built on fear is not the Episcopal Church I was born into, nor the one we should be, nor one I will suffer long.

I would commend a recent article on Episcopal Cafe about these property issues:


The Presbyterians, although hierarchical, have had amicable splits in these situations. I don’t know why we can’t do the same. My only thought is that if conservative money and people leave, then the national church and even some Dioceses will not survive for long. If that is the case and survival is an issue, then maybe some rethinking about what the church has been doing over the last ten years is needed. I can say, for certain, that this litigation strategy to keep the church together is spiritually bankrupt. Lord, have mercy.

10 Responses to “A Post To The HOBD Listserv Regarding 815 and Litigation”

  1. 1 Greg Griffith March 1, 2008 at 9:41 pm


    One day soon, perhaps some attorney will figure out what law 815 is breaking by not disclosing this information, and in the process compel them to disclose it.

    In the meantime, we have to understand that 815, Executive Council, DBB and the rest are playing this game with a different definition of “victory” than we are.

    They couldn’t care less if ASA drops to 12 in every church in the country, or if they spend $15 million litigating for property that’s worth only $10 million.

    What they want is to leverage the Episcopal Church’s monetary and political influence on the Anglican Communion such that out of this current mess emerges something that still resembles the Anglican church, AND which has put its seal of approval on their New Thing. All things gay will then, they figure, be transformed from perverse to holy.

    Many people make the mistake of thinking this crisis is about two different sides both battling for the same thing, like two armies fighting for a piece of land, or two football teams trying to score more points than the other. It is not. We have very different definitions of victory, and thus different goals, and therefore we do our respective cost/benefit analyses proceeding from very different assumptions, and thus with very different ideas of what is costly, and what is beneficial.

  2. 2 Timothy Fountain March 2, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    Brad (& GG) –

    Two of the most lucid things I’ve read on the mess…maybe combine them into one post here or on SF? (Or maybe I will do it on NPA if I can find some time today, which is unlikely).

    I especially like Brad’s identification of the inconsistency: if it is a tiny minority dissenting, why spend so much to crush it?

    And Greg’s point about different measures of victory is right on. The TEC grandees don’t care if there are living, worshipping congregations or maybe even dioceses – as long as there is a national figurehead office to say, “See, here’s a ‘church’ that stands up for the holiness of LGBT!'”

  3. 3 ralph March 2, 2008 at 10:33 pm

    i’m not convinced that 815 has a completely cool, dispassionately calculated other definition of victory that drives them to ignore financial considerations and declining membership – i think some of the fear Brad is sensing is a realization that a major miscalculation was made in 2003 – by now, the storm was supposed to have been over. Plus as Brad mentions in his other post, for some of the liberals it does seem very much personal. Fear, anger, and pride help keep the ship on course for the iceberg.

    and i’m also not convinced that blessing gay rights is the sole desired objective, although i’m sure that’s the case for a strong minority of the executive council. I think there is also the desire to secure one major branch of christianity as really being the home base of what Marcus Borg calls ‘the emerging paradigm’ (there is enough resistance in the other mainline churches to prevent that). and I would also pay attention to what connections there are between the current TEC power brokers and the United Religions Initiative. I believe there is a desire to make what is left of the future Anglican Communion a host organism, but for bigger things than just the redefinition of marriage.

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