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This Comment proposes adding contractual stipulations that result from the surgical arbitration of two questions to the neutral-principles-of-law method analysis. Outsourcing the question: “Did the national denomination substantially and unforeseeably change its doctrine?” to arbitration, allows the underlying cause of the hierarchical religious property dispute to be weighed by a court without compromising that court’s religious neutrality. This Comment will explore this issue primarily in the context of the Presbyterian Church’s (U.S.A.) (“PC(USA)”) affiliation with local churches in Texas that recently attempted to disassociate from the national denomination.

The first Section of this Comment will briefly examine the historical context surrounding the founding of the Nation and of the Presbyterian Church. The second Section will examine the development of the law regarding hierarchical church property disputes. Finally, the third Section will examine proposed alternatives to the current method of adjudicating hierarchical church property disputes and conclude by advancing the surgical arbitration proposal.

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