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Trial Starts In Split Among SC Episcopalians

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File photo of a gavel in a courtroom.  (Credit: Thinkstock)

File photo of a gavel in a courtroom. (Credit: Thinkstock)

ST. GEORGE, S.C. (AP) — About 50 Episcopal churches in South Carolina suing the national denomination, saying they should be able to leave without losing their property.

The national church wants the separating group, which calls itself the Diocese of South Carolina, to return $500 million in property. The churches say the land and buildings were paid for by members past and present and belong to them.

The Diocese of South Carolina consists of about 50 Episcopal churches in the southern and eastern parts of the state who say the national church is too liberal, especially on gay marriage and by electing a gay bishop.

The trial started Tuesday with a dispute over the first witness that the South Carolina churches wanted. The judge allowed attorney Wade Logan to testify about the church’s structure.

(© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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