First Amendment is dead, according to the Houston officials.
Have you heard what’s happening in Houston?
The city government is demanding five pastors turn over “all speeches, presentations, or sermons related to HERO [Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, a measure the city council passed allowing men to use women’s bathrooms and showers, and vice versa], the Petition [see below], Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity prepared by, delivered by, revised by, or approved by you or in your possession.”
The Houston Chronicle reports,
Houston’s embattled equal rights ordinance took another legal turn this week when it surfaced that city attorneys, in an unusual step, subpoenaed sermons given by local pastors who oppose the law and are tied to the conservative Christian activists that have sued the city.
Opponents of the equal rights ordinance are hoping to force a repeal referendum when they get their day in court in January, claiming City Attorney David Feldman wrongly determined they had not gathered enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot. City attorneys issued subpoenas last month during the case’s discovery phase, seeking, among other communications, “all speeches, presentations, or sermons related to HERO, the Petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity prepared by, delivered by, revised by, or approved by you or in your possession.”
The subpoenas were issued to several high-profile pastors and religious leaders who have been vocal in opposing the ordinance.
Yes, “wrongly determined”! Christian and other opponents of HERO circulated a petition to force a public vote on “HERO”, but even though they collected three times the legally required number of signatures the lesbian mayor and city attorney lawlessly thumbed their noses at it, and moved forward.
Hmm, where else have we heard of lawless leaders today?
Russell Moore writes about this subpoena:
I am simply stunned by the sheer audacity of this.
The preaching of sermons in the pulpits of churches is of no concern to any government bureaucrat at all. This country settled, a long time ago, with a First Amendment that the government would not supervise, license, or bully religious institutions. That right wasn’t handed out by the government, as a kind of temporary restraining order. It was recognition of a self-evident truth.
The churches, and pastors, of Houston ought to respond to this sort of government order with the same kind of defiance the Apostle Paul showed the magistrates in Philippi. After an earthquake, sent by God, upturned the prison where Paul and Silas were held, Luke tells us that the officials sent the police to tell Paul and Silas they could go. Paul replied. “They have beaten us publicly, uncondemned men who are Roman citizens and have thrown us into prison; and do they now throw us out secretly. No! Let them come themselves and take us out” (Acts 16:37).
I agree. Houston has beaches. City officials need to be told in no uncertain terms to go pound sand.