Pulpit Friction: TX Leaders Rally To Pastors’ Defense
By Tony Perkins
Thursday may have been Boss’s Day, but don’t expect Houston’s top leader to be flooded with well-wishes. Mayor Annise Parker hasn’t exactly won Manager of the Year after her city-wide intimidation campaign of area churches. After subpoenaing the communications of local pastors, including their sermons and private messages, the Mayor got a few sermons herself from key leaders on the ridiculousness of her vendetta.
Everyone from Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) to the liberal Americans United for the Separation of Church and State have challenged Parker’s naked abuse of government power. The Mayor “should be ashamed,” Sen. Cruz told reporters before a local press conference this morning. “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.”
In the meantime, Attorney General Greg Abbott (R) did more than speak out — he called out city leaders 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 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.”
For his part, Feldman seemed unconcerned, blowing off concerns in a dismissive press conference with Parker, which did more to fan the flames then douse them. “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 belief?
The Mayor made it quite clear — not just this week, but throughout the entire “bathroom bill” debate — that she’ll use her bully pulpit to bully pulpits across Houston. Like I tweeted yesterday, if the city government is so curious about what pastors are saying, tell them to stop in on Sunday morning! After all, there’s nothing secret in these sermons; most of them can be found online. But as I told Fox News’s Megyn Kelly, this isn’t about sermons or biblical instruction — it’s about political intimidation.
For now, the Mayor’s office shows no signs of rescinding the subpoenas. She may backpedal on a narrow portion of the order, but the government is still demanding pastors’ emails and other private communications. As ADF’s Casey Mattox explains, “The only way to make this subpoena appropriate and not unconstitutional is to place a giant red X across the whole thing. Otherwise, this is window dressing intended to shield them from public attention, not any real change. There is NO construction of this subpoena that is appropriate. Period.”
As the rest of the country looks on, it’s important that Americans understand this is not some kind of political aberration. This will be the norm in a brave new world where human sexuality is completely disconnected from biological reality. We’re just now beginning to see the impact on religious liberty from this cultural collision course President Obama set us on by championing the redefinition of marriage. You can’t alter something like marriage that’s deeply rooted in history and tradition, not to mention nature, without the use of force. Now that force is starting to come against those who are unwilling to yield to this new order. But here’s what the Left doesn’t understand.
The Bible-believing and preaching pastors have already yielded on this issue — to God. And that means they cannot and will not yield to government, regardless of how tyrannical it becomes.
Tony Perkins is president of the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council. He is a former member of the Louisiana legislature where he served for eight years, and he is recognized as a legislative pioneer for authoring measures like the nation’s first Covenant Marriage law.
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First published at FRCBlog.com
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