Episcopal church split in South Carolina moves from pew to court; fight over $500M in property

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About 50 conservative Episcopal churches in South Carolina that left the national denomination over the ordination of gays and other issues are suing, saying they should be able to leave without losing their property.

The national church wants the 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 churches in the southern and eastern parts of the state who say the national church is too liberal, especially on gay marriage and because of the election of a gay bishop in 2003.

The trial started Tuesday with testimony about the church's structure.