LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (ABP) — An Arkansas couple suing Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) officials in federal court claim that secular courts have jurisdiction over the internal workings of a church when it involves property disputes or misuse of its articles of incorporation. In a legal document filed Dec. 5, Kirk and Susie Tompkins, members of First Baptist Church, Little Rock, Ark., dispute claims by lawyers for LifeWay Christian Resources and the SBC Executive Committee that a federal magistrate cannot consider legality of LifeWay’s recent sale of Glorieta Conference Center in New Mexico under the free-exercise and establishment clauses in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The couple lost their lease to the lot which contained a vacation home they purchased on Glorieta property in 1993 after it expired when trustees of the SBC publishing house voted to sell the 2,100-acre mountain retreat center near Santa Fe in June.
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