As you probably know, the Mayor of Houston, Annise Parker, has worked to suppress the voice of 55,000 Houstonians who petitioned our government to hold a referendum vote on her ordinance that allows, among other things, biological males who are gender confused to use a female restroom and locker room. As a result, we filed suit, Woodfill v. Parker. Mayor Parker has now embarked on a city-wide intimidation campaign of area churches. It is nothing less than a full assault on our pastors’ religious liberties as provided by the First Amendment. As part of the litigation, Mayor Parker has subpoenaed the communications of local pastors, including their sermons and private messages. The Mayor got a few sermons herself from key leaders on her outrageous vendetta.
Everyone from Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) to the liberal Americans United for the Separation of Church and State have challenged Parker’s unbridled abuse of government power. The Mayor “should be ashamed,” Sen. Cruz told reporters in Houston. “This is wrong. It’s unbefitting of Texans, and it’s un-American. The government has no business asking pastors to turn over their sermons.”
Attorney General Greg Abbott called out Mayor Parker with the full weight of the state. “Whether you intend it to be so or not, your action is a direct assault on the religious liberty guaranteed by the First Amendment,” Abbott warned in a formal letter to Houston City Attorney David Feldman. “The people of Houston and their religious leaders must be absolutely secure in the knowledge that their religious affairs are beyond the reach of the government. Nothing short of an immediate reversal by your office will provide that security.”
Parker and Feldman seemed unconcerned, ignoring the concerns in a dismissive press conference with Parker. “It’s unfortunate,” he said, “that our subpoenas have been construed as some effort to infringe on religious beliefs.” Exactly what part of “their sermons are fair game” isn’t an infringement on religious liberties?
Mayor Parker refuses to rescind the subpoenas. She has backpedaled on a narrow portion of the order, but the government is still demanding pastors’ emails and other private communications. There is NO construction of this subpoena that is appropriate. Period.
As the rest of the country looks on, it’s important that people understand this is not some kind of political aberration. If we do not stand against these tactics, this will be the norm in a world where human sexuality is completely disconnected from biological reality. We’re witnessing the impact on religious liberty from this cultural collision course President Obama set us on by promoting the redefinition of marriage. I believe we should stand firm that marriage is the relationship between one man and one woman.
I am proud to say that these pastors will not bend on this issue. They cannot and will not yield to government, regardless of how oppressive it becomes.
Please keep this case in your prayers.