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Community of Christ vs Devon Park Lawsuit


NauvooSaint

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I find it interesting that the COC admits that there are congregations still using the RLDS designation, and still part of their organization.

I'm not sure to what extent these congregations use only the RLDS name....especially in relation to signs. Many buildings have RLDS church seals embedded on the exterior, but their main sign states 'Community of Christ' & congregations were informed in the past that new signs were not to have the RLDS name. I have an uncle that is the presiding elder of a traditional congregation in the Independence area...even they have a 'COC' sign, but consider themselves RLDS. The Community of Christ was very lucky that their actions to date didn't justify a declaration of abandonment of the RLDS name & that the defense made key errors in their challenge. Does anyone really believe the COC intends to resume use of the RLDS name in the future & not continue to warehouse the name?

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We have a football team (soccer to you colonials) here in England who were called Wimbledon Football Club. They relocated out of London (Wimbledon is in London - the same place they have the tennis tournament) to a town called Milton Keynes and renamed the team Milton Keynes Dons. Many Wimbledon fans were appalled at this and started another club and called it Wimbledon. It plays in Wimbledon. After some years Milton Keynes Dons have had to concede that the new Wimbledon is the genuine successor of the original club and that Milton Keynes Dons constitutes a new football club. Therefore the FA Cup win by the original Wimbledon in 1986 is now regarded as part of the history of Wimbledon (the new one) and not Milton Keynes Dons.

I suspect the CofC are afraid something similar could happen to them if they relinquish the RLDS name altogether.

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I found this remark, in a footnote on page 3 of the judgement, telling:

As did the district court, we refrain from addressing Devon Park’s religion-based arguments, for the First Amendment obligates courts to apply a principle of “neutrality toward religion.”

This is particularly interesting because I remember when RLDS people used to point triumphantly towards a couple of court judgements that appeared to find that the Reorganized Church was the "successor" of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, based upon the argument that the Reorgs were continuing to teach doctrines that the LDS Church were no longer teaching. Evidently such findings are not actually valid in US law.

Regards,

Pahoran

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This is particularly interesting because I remember when RLDS people used to point triumphantly towards a couple of court judgements that appeared to find that the Reorganized Church was the "successor" of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, based upon the argument that the Reorgs were continuing to teach doctrines that the LDS Church were no longer teaching.

That's weird seeing as they are the ones not continuing to teach the doctrine. In fact I thought they broke off because they didn't agree with plural marriage and some other things.

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That's weird seeing as they are the ones not continuing to teach the doctrine. In fact I thought they broke off because they didn't agree with plural marriage and some other things.

It is certainly ironic that what started off as a conservative movement has gone the way it has. The more recent doctrinal innovations by the CofC leadership have been the impetus for the creation of the "Restoration branches" of which Devon Park is an example.

The causes of the first RLDS schism are reasonably complex, but they did once claim to follow the "orginal" Mormonism as taught and practiced by Joseph Smith in Kirtland and Missouri. They rejected plural marriage as an innovation introduced by Brigham Young. There are still some diehards who insist on this view of things, despite the fact that the RLDS Church abandoned that claim a long time ago.

The trouble that conservative Reorganites have is that the leadership of the CofC appears to have been captured by a very liberal clique that does not believe the Book of Mormon to be much more than an edifying parable, and in fact probably does not regard the Bible as the word of God in any meaningful way. Conservative Reorganites are much closer to Latter-day Saints on these matters than they are to their own denominational leadership.

Regards,

Pahoran

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Pahoran, you are right.

However, most of the conservative Book of Mormon believing josephites are now in the independent restoration branches or the Remnant Church. Very few are left in the Community of Christ. They are at home where they are but it is true that they would be more at home with the brighamites than with the CofC.

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Pahoran, you are right.

However, most of the conservative Book of Mormon believing josephites are now in the independent restoration branches or the Remnant Church. Very few are left in the Community of Christ. They are at home where they are but it is true that they would be more at home with the brighamites than with the CofC.

Then perhaps it's time they returned to the fold.

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Pahoran, you are right.

However, most of the conservative Book of Mormon believing josephites are now in the independent restoration branches or the Remnant Church. Very few are left in the Community of Christ. They are at home where they are but it is true that they would be more at home with the brighamites than with the CofC.

not true at all. In my congregation there are just 3 or 4 people out of 50 that are not conservative Book of Mormon Believers. That is true for most congregations in my state, and surrounding states. There are liberal pockets in the Western Church, like the pacific northwest, that do not use the Book of Mormon. But there was not a mass exodus of the book of mormon believers to the restorationist movement.

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not true at all. In my congregation there are just 3 or 4 people out of 50 that are not conservative Book of Mormon Believers. That is true for most congregations in my state, and surrounding states. There are liberal pockets in the Western Church, like the pacific northwest, that do not use the Book of Mormon. But there was not a mass exodus of the book of mormon believers to the restorationist movement.

Interesting. I did not know that.

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Pahoran,

The 1880 Kirtland Temple Case in Ohio & 1892 Temple Lot Case in Missouri were decided decades prior to the new precedent being established regarding religious neutrality. Some LDS & others, have mistakenly used later court cases(that shaped/changed the legal landscape for the future)in an attempt to invalidate those cases or weaken the impact of the 'Findings of Fact' for our day. ***If a similar case was heard today given the changes in the Community of Christ & LDS/Mormon churches (without religious neutrality)...the LDS would likely win.

It's interesting that the appeals court on one hand speaks of the 'burgandy' 'Hymns of the Saints' hymnal (published in the 1980s w/RLDS name) as continued use by Community of Christ & also states that their new COC hymnal planned for 2013 clearly won't use the RLDS name. That would seem to have been solid evidence the COC didn't plan continued RLDS use. Some Restoration Branches use a 'grey' RLDS hymnal published between the 1950s-1970s, while others use a 'blue' 'Hymns of the Restoration' hymnal that was compiled independent of church affiliation. RLDS Restorationists don't use the 'burgandy' one, because many traditional church hymns were excluded or altered...in some cases words became gender-neutral even in reference to God.

There were different angles Devon Park could have considered pursuing. I would have liked to known what the bylaws contained in their incorporation papers with the state in relation to their membership in the RLDS church. Many Restoration Branches if they do incorporate (in order to collect tithes/offerings as a church or own tax-exempt property) are careful in their wording to not establish themselves as a new denomination, but still protecting themselves from control by the COC leadership.

Another angle could have been denial of RLDS membership rights to voice/vote in meetings of the church. Since traditonal RLDS members especially around Independence, MO were placed in a new membership category that striped them of participation in church affairs...including the decision to change the name to Community of Christ, they had little choice then to form independently while still maintaining their RLDS identity. The category was created for those who didn't accept womens' ordination & was used in jurisdictions where the majority of the membership would vote against it in meetings.

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Pahoran, you are right.

However, most of the conservative Book of Mormon believing josephites are now in the independent restoration branches or the Remnant Church. Very few are left in the Community of Christ. They are at home where they are but it is true that they would be more at home with the brighamites than with the CofC.

In spite of what sandyk, in a later post, would have people believe, you are correct- most conservative, Book of Mormon believing RLDS are now in the Restoration Branches (either associated with the Conference of Restoration Elders or the Joint Conference of Restoration Branches) or the Remnant Church. The Branch I currently attend was the first Branch to be locked of of its building back in the 1970's. With the ordination of women in '84, and it's aftermath, it is estimated that around half of the church walked away.

I also agree with your second statement- even after leaving the LDS Church for the Restoration Branches, I would still be more comfortable in a LDS Church then a Community of Christ Church, if those were the choices given me in my area for Book of Mormon believing churches.

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Pahoran,

The 1880 Kirtland Temple Case in Ohio & 1892 Temple Lot Case in Missouri were decided decades prior to the new precedent being established regarding religious neutrality. Some LDS & others, have mistakenly used later court cases(that shaped/changed the legal landscape for the future)in an attempt to invalidate those cases or weaken the impact of the 'Findings of Fact' for our day. ***If a similar case was heard today given the changes in the Community of Christ & LDS/Mormon churches (without religious neutrality)...the LDS would likely win.

It's not a matter of a "changed legal landscape." It's a matter of findings that are in every respect beyond the competence of a civil court. The change in the legal landscape simply recognises that fact.

Besides, the spectacle of JS3 mounting a lawsuit on behalf of the RLDS Church against himself in order to maneuver the court into making the finding referred to, shows what kind of legal jiggery-pokery was really going on. And why include an imaginary defendant, namely "The Church in Utah of which John Taylor is President?" Why not use its well-known true and correct name, if not for the fact that that name clearly undermines the premise of the case?

Are you also aware that the judgement including the irrelevant finding in question was subsequently overturned, and that JS3 quietly transferred control of the Kirtland Temple to the RLDS Church?

There were different angles Devon Park could have considered pursuing. I would have liked to known what the bylaws contained in their incorporation papers with the state in relation to their membership in the RLDS church. Many Restoration Branches if they do incorporate (in order to collect tithes/offerings as a church or own tax-exempt property) are careful in their wording to not establish themselves as a new denomination, but still protecting themselves from control by the COC leadership.

Another angle could have been denial of RLDS membership rights to voice/vote in meetings of the church. Since traditonal RLDS members especially around Independence, MO were placed in a new membership category that striped them of participation in church affairs...including the decision to change the name to Community of Christ, they had little choice then to form independently while still maintaining their RLDS identity. The category was created for those who didn't accept womens' ordination & was used in jurisdictions where the majority of the membership would vote against it in meetings.

That sounds decidedly strange. Did RLDS members regularly participate in elective voting prior to this? Are you saying the leadership created this new category in order to effectively disenfranchise traditionalists?

Regards,

Pahoran

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Pahoran,

1880 Kirtland Temple Case was dismissed, not overturned....based upon the plantiffs (RLDS church) not in actual possession of the building at the time of the lawsuit. Joseph Smith, III personally held a legal deed. It's quite an interesting & complicated lawsuit. You are correct in that Joseph Smith, III transferred ownership to the RLDS church & it was not through 'adverse possession' as Kim Loving asserted. The weight of the 'Findings of Fact' in the decision is what LDS dislike. The notification rules & rules of law were satisfied for the time period of the 1880s.

Denial of RLDS membership voice/vote:

Example evidence of this (Blue Valley Packet) can be obtained through Price Publishing (www.restorationbookstore.org). Traditional RLDS members were placed in the new membership category based upon their opposing stance on womens' ordination & according to the 'Regional Administrator's Handbook' their membership is classified as 'not-in-good standing'. The new category was effectively used only in jurisdictions where a majority were conservative members.

Does anyone know of phonebooks that still have headings/listings in the church section... 'Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints'? Here in Oregon both are 'Community of Christ' In some cases Community of Christ has been listed among general church listings.

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1880 Kirtland Temple Case was dismissed, not overturned....based upon the plantiffs (RLDS church) not in actual possession of the building at the time of the lawsuit. Joseph Smith, III personally held a legal deed. It's quite an interesting & complicated lawsuit. You are correct in that Joseph Smith, III transferred ownership to the RLDS church & it was not through 'adverse possession' as Kim Loving asserted. The weight of the 'Findings of Fact' in the decision is what LDS dislike. The notification rules & rules of law were satisfied for the time period of the 1880s.

Since the RLDS church’s case was so weak that it was dismissed (even though the LDS church never bothered to appear in court), what “weight” could the “Findings of Fact” possibly have with respect to the legal or religious claims of the LDS Church?

If Joseph Smith III could legally transfer ownership to the RLDS church after the RLDS church lost the case, why didn’t he legally transfer ownership to the RLDS church without going to court?

I have to agree with Pahoran. It appears that this case was a maneuver to get Caesar to “weigh in” on an ecclesiastical dispute -- knowing that it was likely that only one side of the ecclesiastical dispute would be presented.

Can you imagine the early Christians appealing to Caesar to decide which competing faction was the legal successor to the original church?

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Does the LDS Church have a position on any of the other RLDS branches? I assume that all RLDS/CC members wanting to join would still have to be re-baptized?

JMS

That's correct. The only exception would be if they were LDS to start with, and had started attending one of those RLDS branches without formally resigning their membership in the Church.

Regards,

Pahoran

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