South Carolina Episcopalians
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September 22, 2017
Breakaways' Courting Alt-right News Media in War Against the Episcopal Church and the Supreme Court
Departed diocese revels in "national" coverage from major source of fake news, while its new, out-of-state public relations firm enlists local writers to attack the Episcopal Church

Earlier this week, the website of the breakaway Lawrence "diocese" reveled in headlines from a news source its readers think they've never heard of... but they have.

The Daily Caller is one of a handful of ultra-right, online news organizations, largely responsible for twisting or otherwise inventing news stories to degrade public officials, political candidates, and others they don't like.  Many of its stories have racist, anti-immigrant, and anti-Muslim overtones, and have even been linked to the recent racial violence in Charlottesville.  

The Daily Caller is a first cousin to Breitbart News, led by white nationalist Steve Bannon, and FOX News.  The three routinely appear to replicate dubious stories created by the others to make them seem more credible to unsuspecting readers.

Lawrence team revels in news stories it is paying for

This week The Caller published a story on the Lawrencians' most recent version of their schism with the cooperation of their leadership.  Not only did Lawrence's team republish the article on its own website, but gleefully sent it out in a newsletter urging his followers to resend it to their own social media networks.


But why would a despicable publication like this be interested in a church dispute in South Carolina?   

New out-of-state PR firm now hawking breakaways' story

The Lawrence crowd has apparently hired a PR firm in Washington DC to sell its imaginative interpretation of the past five years to various news media.  The firm is even signing up and apparently paying local writers to submit letters to the editor and opinion pieces, attacking the Episcopal Church in ways that seem random and spontaneous. 

It is not clear if the Lawrencians paid the Daily Caller itself to run the story, but it is clear that the PR firm is feeding the story to The Caller's reporter and arranging interviews for him with Lawrence's top staff and supporters. 

The firm will assist writers who want to join in the bashing by arranging interviews with Lawrence, his aide-de-camp Jim Lewis, and lawyer Alan Runyon.   If a writer would like, the firm will also arrange an interview with the reporter for The Caller.


Lawrence's lieutenants are apparently trying to get national news sources to inspire ultra-conservatives to pressure our state 's Supreme Court into retroactively nullifying the vote of Associate Justice Kaye Hearn in its recent rejection of their lawsuit against the Episcopal Church. 

Lawrence's legal team officially demanded that Hearn recuse herself... thirty days
after the decision was handed down.  they made no such demand that the two male justices who voted with her be disqualified.

Disgraceful and disreputable

It is difficult to understand why Lawrencians would invest so much time and apparently money climbing into bed with such disreputable news sources.

According to a new study by 
Harvard University's Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society, the Daily Caller has provided "amplification and legitimation [for] the most extreme conspiracy sites" on the internet, and "employed anti-immigrant narratives that echoed sentiments from the alt-right and white nationalists." 


The study said that during last year's Presidential election, the publication played "a significant role in creating and disseminating stories that … stoked the belief among core Trump followers that what Clinton did was not merely questionable but criminal and treasonous.”

In an apparent effort to fan Islamophobia among voters, the Daily Caller also made the "utterly unsubstantiated and unsourced claim" that Secretary Clinton pressured the Environmental Protection Agency to close an American phosphate company to get a $15 million donation for the Clinton Foundation from the King of Morocco apparently to benefit Morocco’s state-owned phosphate company."

Move Bitch!

More recently, the Daily Caller has gotten in trouble over the ties of some of its contributors to white supremacist groups, especially one who was reportedly a key organizer in the recent pro-Confederate rally in Charlottesville.

According to this entry on Wikipedia, "In January 2017, the Daily Caller published a video which encouraged violence against protesters.  The video in question showed a car plowing through protesters, with the headline "Here's A Reel Of Cars Plowing Through Protesters Trying To Block The Road" and set to a cover of Ludacris' "Move Bitch."  (It's a video.)

"The video drew attention in August 2017 when a white supremacist plowed his car through a group of counter protesters at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville.  After the video attracted attention, the Daily Caller deleted it from its website." 

September 20, 2017
Unhinged

Lawrencians' attack on Supreme Court is coming off the rails, as senior justices blast smearing of female justice who supported the Church

An ugly legal and public relations campaign by dissident Episcopalians against a state Supreme Court justice who voted against them appeared to be coming off the rails this week.  

Lawrence's legal team went back to the Court this month and asked that it reverse an unfavorable ruling against them in their efforts to have 36 parishes to leave the Episcopal Church with their properties and the entire corporate structure of the "Diocese of South Carolina."

They filed three petitions for a rehearing addresses various issues, but the one that has inspired the most fireworks demands that Associate Justice Kaye Hearn be thrown off the case and her vote invalided, even though the case has already been decided.  The Lawrencians have never explained why they waited until after the case was decided to raise the issue.

To heighten the fury, the Lawrencians appear to have climbed into bed with a shadowy right-wing political group not especially known for its legal expertise or accuracy.  The group has published editorials in newspapers and ultraconservative media using long-discredited propaganda that the Lawrencians once employed to raise money for their cause

SC Episcopalians has learned that the campaign has been too much even for some of the Lawrence lawyers, and they have tried to distance themselves from it.  That was probably a good idea, as the state's legal community appears to be increasingly disgusted by the slimy tactics.

Retired Appeals Court Judges William T. Howell and Sam Stilwell came out swinging yesterday in defense of Hearn, describing the Lawrencian's character assassination as "an overzealous reaction to an unsuccessful appeal, which is unsupported by fact and law."  

They went on to say that the actions by Lawrencians attack against Hearn casts "an unwarranted shadow on a respectable and unimpeachable justice with more than thirty years of public service on the bench."

The attacks are similar to those launched by the Lawrencians years ago against former Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.


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