Houston: Gay Agenda, Pastors Hand Over Your Sermons
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 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.”
Rev. Dave Welch, executive director of the Texas 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.”
“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.
Houston, Texas City Officials: Pastors, Provide the City With Copies of Your Sermons
For those of us who followed the IRS targeting scandal, we remember that one of the intrusive inquiries made to Christian groups related to the ‘content’ of their prayers. Apparently that is being taken to a whole new level in Houston, Texas where, apparently some city officials want some churches to hand over sermons preached in church by local pastors. There is nothing secret about sermons, if you want to know what they are preaching, go to church. However, this ordinance would have the added bonus to the city officials of intimidation. Apparently this is linked to the gender neutral restrooms, a controversial ordinance that allows gender confused people to use whichever restroom they identify with. Apparently that ordinance has been used by sexual predators to enter facilities where young girls are showering and when the religious community decided to petition their city officials… well, you get the idea. If you don’t like what your governing officials are doing, you have the option of petition… or do you? After getting three times the number of required signatures, city officials determined they were invalid. The corruption of absolute power is alive and well in Houston, Texas as it has been in Washington, D.C.
Officials with the city of Houston, Texas, who are fighting for a controversial ordinance that would allow men to use women’s restrooms there now have demanded to see the sermons preached by several area pastors. The recent move came in a subpoena from the city to pastors for copies of their sermons – and copies of other communications from the pastors to their congregations – in the city’s fight over a “non-discrimination” plan that allows “gender-confused” people to use whatever public restrooms with which they identify. A legal action challenging the city’s move has developed because the city allegedly violated its own charter in the process of adopting the Equal Rights Ordinance, which in May designated homosexuals and transgender persons as a protected class. Critics say the measure effectively enables sexual predators who dress as women to enter female public bathrooms, locker rooms and shower facilities. And a coalition of activists that includes area pastors filed suit Aug. 6 against the city and lesbian Mayor Annise Parker after officials announced a voter petition to repeal the measure didn’t have enough signatures to qualify for the election ballot. Parker, who has acknowledged the ordinance is “all about me,” was legally married to her same-sex partner in California in January. According to the Alliance Defending Freedom, which now has filed a motion to quash the city’s demands: The motion to the court explains that the pastors are not party to the lawsuit, and the city’s strategy doesn’t meet the requirements of state law that demands such efforts “be reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence, not be overly broad, seek only information that is not privileged and relevant to the subject matter of the litigation, and not cause undue burden or harassment.” The demands from the city simply fail to meet those requirements, the motion explains. But the ADF said, “City officials are upset over a voter lawsuit filed after the city council rejected valid petitions to repeal a law that allows members of the opposite sex into each other’s restrooms. ADF attorneys say the city is illegitimately demanding that the pastors, who are not party to the lawsuit, turn over their constitutionally protected sermons and other communications simply so the city can see if the pastors have ever opposed or criticized the city.” “City council members are supposed to be public servants, not ‘Big Brother’ overlords who will tolerate no dissent or challenge,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Erik Stanley. “In this case, they have embarked upon a witch hunt, and we are asking the court to put a stop to it.” “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.” While the public submitted more than three times the legally required number of petition signatures to require city action, and the city secretary certified the number as sufficient, the mayor and city attorney simply “defied” the law and rejected the certification, the ADF said. “The message is clear: oppose the decisions of city government, and drown in unwarranted, burdensome discovery requests,” said a brief in support of the motion to quash. “These requests, if allowed, will have a chilling effect on future citizens who might consider circulating referendum petitions because they are dissatisfied with ordinances passed by the city council. “Not only will the nonparty pastors be harmed if these discovery requests are allowed, but the people will suffer as well. The referendum process will become toxic and the people will be deprived of an important check on city government provided them by the charter.” Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2014/10/major-u-s-city-demands-oversight-of-sermons/#yECDrEs37Tz3Psbv.99
Lesbian Mayor, It’s All About Me
A coalition of activists that includes area pastors filed suit Aug. 6 against the city and lesbian Mayor Annise Parker after officials announced a voter petition to repeal the measure didn’t have enough signatures to qualify for the election ballot. Parker, who has acknowledged the ordinance is “all about me,” was legally married to her same-sex partner in California in January. Similar measures in other jurisdictions across the country have sparked controversy. Opponents point to incidents such a man in Indianapolis who allegedly went into a women’s locker room at a YMCA and watched girls, ages 7 and 10, shower. The coalition includes the Baptist Ministers Association of Houston, the Houston Area Pastor Council, the Houston Ministers against Crime, AME Ministers Alliance of Houston/Gulf Coast, the Northeast Ministers Alliance, the South Texas Full Gospel Baptist Fellowship, the South Texas District of the Assemblies of God and the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. The coalition had submitted more than 55,000 signatures in the referendum drive. City Secretary Anna Russell confirmed in writing Aug. 1 that the petition sponsors had submitted 17,846 qualified signatures, nearly 600 above the minimum 17,269. However, City Attorney David Feldman announced 2,750 petitions were invalid because of “technical problems.” The Obama administration is solidly behind the move to open locker room doors to some members of the opposite sex.
- President Obama signed the U.N. Declaration on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity;
- The White House hosted the first-ever meeting with transgender activists;
- The Department of State made it easier for transsexuals to change the sex indicated on passports;
- The U.S. Justice Department sided with a transsexual individual in an employment discrimination suit against the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives;
- The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled for the first time last year that “gender identity or expression” in the workplace is protected under federal civil rights law;
- The Office of Personnel Management inserted “gender identity” for the first time into its federal workplace anti-discrimination policy;
- The American Psychiatric Association removed “gender identity disorder” from its list of mental health ailments in late 2012, a move some regarded as a lifting of the social stigma attached to transsexual behavior.