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Episcopal Church in South Carolina Files Another Petition

Episcopal Church in South Carolina Files Another Petition

By David W. Virtue, DD
November 14, 2019

The Episcopal Church in South Carolina filed yet another petition on November 11 in Federal Court this time objecting to the Diocese's use of the name The Anglican Diocese of South Carolina, as well as references found on the diocesan website pertaining to its history.

The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina filed a petition in federal court late yesterday requesting enforcement of the Court's Order and Opinion and Permanent Injunction issued on September 19, 2019. The petition cited numerous examples that prove continued violations of the Injunction by the disassociated diocese as it "hold(s) itself out to be the Historic Diocese in many respects," including using a name that is "confusingly similar" to that of the Diocese of South Carolina.

Among the cited violations, the Petition to Enforce the Injunction notes that although U.S. District Court Judge Richard Gergel pointed out in his September 19 ruling that "The Disassociated Diocese is an organization formed in 2012," the disassociated diocese continues to advertise on its website and social media pages that it was "Founded in 1785" and displays on its website convention journals and materials of The Diocese of South Carolina as if they are their own, even though many are from prior to the organization's formation in 2012.

The filing outlines various other violations of the Permanent Injunction including redirecting the web address of the Diocese of South Carolina to their new web address, and that the disassociated diocese's new name, "The Anglican Diocese of South Carolina," is in fact "confusingly similar" to "The Diocese of South Carolina" as Judge Gergel's ruling had issued the Injunction to avoid. As noted in the filing, "The Injunction places a heavy legal burden on the Disassociated Diocese not to choose a confusingly similar name, because the Court has already found that Defendants infringed Plantiff's marks." Yet, the new name contains the entirety of the historic diocese's name, adding only one word, "Anglican," which aptly describes the historic diocese -- a member of the worldwide Anglican Communion as part of The Episcopal Church.

After explaining the various violations, providing screenshots, photos, and other evidence, the petition asks the Court to take the necessary action to assure compliance with the order, including requiring the disassociated diocese to select a new name for the organization "under the safe distance rule that is so far removed from any characteristic of the Historic Diocese so as to put the public on notice that the two are not related."

In filing the petition yesterday, Chancellor Thomas S. Tisdale, Jr. expressed a hope that this matter can be settled soon. "We very much agree with Judge Gergel's ruling on September 19 that 'the time has come for this dispute to be resolved,'" said Tisdale. "But as we continue to move forward, we also want to bring an end to the confusion caused by the disassociated group claiming the history of the Diocese of South Carolina to be its own."

The Anglican diocese's legal team, in conjunction with the Standing Committee is formulating a response. VOL will bring you their response as soon as it posted.


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