Magazine article The Christian Century

Judge Upholds Charter of Greek Orthodox

Magazine article The Christian Century

Judge Upholds Charter of Greek Orthodox

Article excerpt

A New York judge has sided with the Greek Orthodox Church in a fight with lay activists over its constitution, ruling that the court has no authority to interfere in an internal church dispute. State Supreme Court Justice Ira Gammerman dismissed a suit claiming that the church's charter, or constitution, had been improperly adopted in a violation of state corporate law.

"The First Amendment to the United States Constitution precludes courts from intervening in ecclesiastical matters, such as church governance, to resolve disputes involving religious organizations," Gammerman ruled. Church officials released on August 12 the decision issued by the judge six days earlier.

Restive parishioners, led by the independent group Orthodox Christian Laity, had charged that the charter "granted" by leaders of world Orthodoxy last year is not the same one they adopted during a 2002 convention. The suit brought to the surface longstanding complaints from lay activists that they have been shut out of decision-making. …

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