Wednesday, October 15, 2014


City of Houston Demands Pastors Turn Over Sermons

The city of Houston has issued subpoenas demanding a group of pastors turn over any sermons dealing with homosexuality, gender identity or Annise Parker, the city’s first openly lesbian mayor. And those ministers who fail to comply could be held in contempt of court.

“The city’s subpoena of sermons and other pastoral communications is both needless and unprecedented,” Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Christina Holcomb said in a statement. “The city council and its attorneys are engaging in an inquisition designed to stifle any critique of its actions.”

ADF, a nationally-known law firm specializing in religious liberty cases, is representing five Houston pastors. They filed a motion in Harris County court to stop the subpoenas arguing they are “overbroad, unduly burdensome, harassing, and vexatious.”

“Political and social commentary is not a crime,” Holcomb said. “It is protected by the First Amendment.”

The subpoenas are just the latest twist in an ongoing saga over the Houston’s new non-discrimination ordinance. The law, among other things, would allow men to use the ladies room and vice versa.  The city council approved the law in June.
The Houston Chronicle reported opponents of the ordinance launched a petition drive that generated more than 50,000 signatures – far more than the 17,269 needed to put a referendum on the ballot.
However, the city threw out the petition in August over alleged irregularities.

After opponents of the bathroom bill filed a lawsuit the city’s attorneys responded by issuing the subpoenas against the pastors.

The pastors were not part of the lawsuit. However, they were part of a coalition of some 400 Houston-area churches that opposed the ordinance. The churches represent a number of faith groups – from Southern Baptist to non-denominational.

“City council members are supposed to be public servants, not ‘Big Brother’ overlords who will tolerate no dissent or challenge,” said ADF attorney Erik Stanley.  “This is designed to intimidate pastors.”

Mayor Parker will not explain why she wants to inspect the sermons. I contacted City Hall for a comment and received a terse reply from the mayor’s director of communications.
“We don’t comment on litigation,” said Janice Evans.

However, ADF attorney Stanley suspects the mayor wants to publicly shame the ministers. He said he anticipates they will hold up their sermons for public scrutiny. In other words – the city is rummaging for evidence to “out” the pastors as anti-gay bigots.

Among those slapped with a subpoena is Steve Riggle, the senior pastor of Grace Community Church. He was ordered him to produce all speeches and sermons related to Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality and gender identity.

The mega-church pastor was also ordered to hand over “all communications with members of your congregation” regarding the non-discrimination law.

“This is an attempt to chill pastors from speaking to the cultural issues of the day,” Riggle told me. “The mayor would like to silence our voice. She’s a bully.”

David Welch, pastor of Bear Creek Church and director of the Houston Area Pastor Council, also received a subpoena. He said he will not be intimidated by the mayor.

“We’re not afraid of this bully,” he said. “We’re not intimidated at all.”

He accused the city of violating the law with the subpoenas and vowed to stand firm in the faith.
“We are not going to yield our First Amendment rights,” Welch told me. ‘This is absolutely a complete abuse of authority.”

Tony Perkins, the head of the Family Research Council, said pastors around the nation should rally around the Houston ministers.

“The state is breaching the wall of separation between church and state,” Perkins told me. ‘Pastors need to step forward and challenge this across the country. I’d like to see literally thousands of pastors after they read this story begin to challenge government authorities – to dare them to come into their churches and demand their sermons.”

Perkins called the actions by Houston’s mayor “obscene” and said they “should not be tolerated.”
“This is a shot across the bow of the church,” he said.

This is the moment I wrote about in my book, “God Less America.” I predicted that the government would one day try to silence American pastors. I warned that under the guise of “tolerance and diversity” elected officials would attempt to deconstruct religious liberty.

Sadly, that day arrived sooner than even I expected.

Tony Perkins is absolutely right. Now is the time for pastors
 and people of faith to take a stand.  We must rise up and reject this despicable strong-arm attack on religious liberty. We cannot allow ministers to be intimidated by government thugs.
The pastors I spoke to tell me they will not comply with the subpoena – putting them at risk for a “fine or confinement, or both.”

Heaven forbid that should happen. But if it does, Christians across America should be willing to descend en masse upon Houston and join these brave men of God behind bars.

Pastor Welch compared the culture war skirmish to the 1836 Battle of San Jacinto, fought in present-day Harris County, Texas. It was a decisive battle of the Texas Revolution.

“This is the San Jacinto moment for traditional family,” Welch told me. “This is the place where we stop the LGBT assault on the freedom to practice our faith.”

We can no longer remain silent. We must stand together – because one day – the government might come for your pastor.

Todd Starnes is host of Fox News & Commentary, heard on hundreds of radio stations. Sign up for his American Dispatch newsletter, be sure to join hisFacebook page, and follow him on Twitter. His latest book is “God Less America.”


Gene said...

Sieg heil!

Gene said...

What some pastor should do is copy, in everyday speech, the sixth chapter of Ephesians as a sermon and turn it in. He would immediately be branded a terrorist, an enemy of the State, arrested, and grilled by the NSA.

JusadBellum said...

Classic behavior.

Those who decry 'homophobia' (hating people for difference) are themselves the greatest offenders.

Merely beg to differ on the claim that sodomy is healthy and ipso facto you are accused of 'hating' the person who is engaging in one of the most dangerous of all sexual practices.

See, because pointing out the biologically obvious as a warning from contracting all manner of pathogens = hatred. But giving the person a high five and encouragement to self-destruct is "love". Got it?

So it follows that those who claim the legalization of sodomy won't slide into its mandatory promotion and a mandate to agree with the movements' every desire are also going to commit actions that prove they are either lying or clueless about how the world works.

Of course they first demand 'equality' but it's applied as special favoritism. Then it's taught as harmless. Then it's mandated that everyone agree....or else. Then they insist on attendance and subsidies for their behavior and subsidies for health care...and then they'll demand inquisitions to ferret out 'secret' homophobes.

It's as predictable as night from day.

But ultimately what will happen is as follows: the science will win out and we'll prove beyond all doubt that sodomy is simply dangerous and thus the ideations and desires to commit it are irrational and counterproductive to human flourishing and that far from being praised those with these ideations need tender, loving, care and therapy to resist these irrational urges.

It'll take 50 years and grave damage to tens of millions of people will occur but in the end people will look back aghast that this movement was ever a 'thing' just as we look back aghast at the Know-nothings or KKK.

Anonymous said...

Well 99% of Catholic priests have nothing to fear from the government. I'm pretty sure they aren't preaching against the evils of homosexuality, abortion, etc. so priests of god have no fear. You are all safe.

Cameron said...

I would say you can kiss my ass and what are you going to do about it if I don't give them to you?

Gene said...

Or, get a good number of your church members who support you to show up at the church armed behind barricades and say, "Ok, come and get them."

Anonymous said...

If the mayor is interested in what is being said in the churches, perhaps the mayor should go to the churches and listen.

Anonymous said...

After having survived (barely) a Civil War 150 years ago, this story makes you wonder how the USA can survive the relentless secular assault, magnified by the Obama Administration and the federal courts. Increasingly, you can tell if a state is secular or more/somewhat religious by how it votes for president. Gallup Organization did some polling in 2013 of the most to least religious states. The top 10 "very religious" states were all in the South, save for Utah, and all 10 backed Romney. ("Very religious" was defined as religion being an important part of one's life and attending worship usually at least weekly.) The 10 least religious states included 5 of the 6 New England states (all but Rhode Island), 3 states in the western US (Nevada, Oregon and Washington) and Hawaii. All 10 of the least religious states backed Obama last time. Even with increasingly "blue" metro Atlanta, Georgia ranked as the 7th most religious state. Of the top 10 religious states, only one, Louisiana, had a large Catholic population (say over 25% Catholic).

JBS said...


I'm not sure if even the Declaration of Independence is still an "acceptable" document.

rcg said...

Does this include the ones preached in Arabic?

Gene said...

JBS, Maybe we should start calling it the "Decoration of Independence." You know, if you forget all the BS hype about the War Between the States being all about slavery and take a look at state's rights issues, the South was really right. There is entirely too much government in this country. Our politicians are drunk on power and privilege and have become a self-perpetuating menace to freedom and independence. State governors need to begin asserting their full powers and pushing the issues.

Anonymous 2 said...

I come late to this thread.

The story as reported by the FoxNews reporter seemed suspect on its face so I did a little research. In less than 5 minutes I discovered a rather different account:

Tellingly the above linked article contains the following passage:

“Not all conservatives agree that the outrage is justified. The American Vision is an organization that has been designated an anti-LGBT hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, but its Director of Research, Joel McDurmon, believes the subpoenas are reasonable. ‘Once you file a lawsuit,’ he reasoned, ‘you open up yourself and potentially your friends and acquaintances to discovery.” Though he also agrees the original subpoenas were “unnecessarily broad,’ McDurmon is bothered by all of the fear-mongering, which he worries might only be for fundraising purposes. ‘This is not an attack on all Houston area pastors,’ he asserted, calling it ‘irresponsible’ to suggest otherwise.”

Now I have done no further research and so have no basis for reaching a definitive judgment on the merits of the types of claims made by the FoxNews reporter or by some commentators in this thread. Moreover, perhaps the above “rebuttal” is just as biased and distorted as the Fox report. But this is already enough to suggest the wisdom of not allowing oneself to be manipulated by hysterical reporting designed to whip up the readership and instead to undertake a calm investigation and evaluation of the facts. Thus, not only does the subpoena involve only five pastors and seem aimed at discovering any instructions the pastors may have given regarding the collection of signatures for the petition but the scope of the subpoena has today been narrowed. By all means attack the Houston policy on its merits, but do so based on the facts.

Why do people allow themselves to be manipulated and whipped up by media hype (when the main thing they want to do is to sell their product to gullible consumers)? It is happening over the synod, it is happening over ebola, it is happening over ISIS, and it is happening over this. Now what was that phrase about not cooperating in evil (I assume that lies, misrepresentations, and the deliberate creation of hysteria and fear-mongering are evils)? Not only is it wrong to participate in this, it is unwise because it reduces credibility of the reporter and of those further propagating the report. Consequently, when there really IS a “there” there no-one will believe it (except of course those who believe everything in these sources anyway) because we all remember, or should remember, the story about the boy who cried wolf.

Those who are really worried about losing their freedom should try to retain their independence of mind and critical thinking abilities so they can resist the excesses of government manipulation, corporate manipulation, and media manipulation. If one allows oneself to be manipulated by such forces, one has to that extent abdicated one’s freedom.