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Houston Backtracks on Sermons, but Battle Not Over

CBN News – The mayor of Houston is backing down somewhat after a firestorm of criticism against her administration’s attempt to target pastors there.

Mayor Annise Parker’s administration had subpoenaed the sermons of five Houston pastors who opposed the city’s Equal Rights Ordinance.

That law creates special rights for homosexuals and transgenders, including allowing people with sexual identity confusion to use bathrooms of the opposite gender.

The pastors argued that Parker’s legal action demanding their sermons violates their religious liberty and free speech rights. The Alliance Defending Freedom is representing the pastors.

“The city’s subpoena of sermons and other pastoral communications is both needless and unprecedented,” said ADF Litigation Counsel Christiana Holcomb. “The city council and its attorneys are engaging in an inquisition designed to stifle any critique of its actions. Political and social commentary is not a crime; it is protected by the First Amendment.”

Now KTRH radio station reports that Parker, who has a special interest in the ordinance as a lesbian, says she didn’t mean to ask for their sermons.

“People are rightly concerned if a government entity tries in any way to inhibit religious speech. That is not the intent,” Parker said.

But this battle is far from over. The latest aspect of this Houston controversy centers on a petition to let citizens vote on the Equal Rights Ordinance. Opponents are suing because Houston rejected their petition.

“The public submitted more than three times the legally required number of valid signatures, which the city secretary, who is entrusted by law to examine and certify petitions, certified as sufficient. The mayor and city attorney defied the law and rejected the certification,” ADF stated in a press release.

That case is going forward, and Houston officials have demanded the pastor’s turn over their emails, diaries, checkbooks, tape recordings, text messages, and much more. The Parker administration’s revised demands will be clarified in upcoming hearings.

CBN’s Mark Martin spoke with Dave Welch of the U.S. Pastor Council, who helped to lead the fight against the ordinance. Click here to see that interview.

Report via CBN News



 

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