Attempt to Intimidate and Coerce Pastors and Church Leaders
Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF, formerly Alliance Defense Fund) is an American Conservative Christian, nonprofit organization with whose goal and reason for existence is to “defending the right to hear and speak the Truth.
ADF attorney Stanley, is involved in the case of the Houston mayor who recently had subpoenas issued to five area pastors demanding their sermons and any and all printed or written material that may have mentioned her. Attorney Stanley suspects the mayor wants to publicly shame the ministers. He said he anticipates the mayor wants to 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.”
In a press conference Houston Mayor Annise Parker has announced that she will withdraw the subpoenas against five pastors who have spoken out against the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, an LGBT city ordinance that some opponents claim would allow men to use women’s public restrooms.
More recently… In an attempt to mitigate the national outrage from religious groups, Houston Mayor Annise Parker on Wednesday said the city would no longer subpoena local pastors who had opposed a city ordinance barring businesses from discriminating against transgender people.
“I don’t want to have a national debate about freedom of religion when my whole purpose was to defend a strong and wonderful and appropriate city ordinance” said Ms. Parker.
Houston’s lesbian mayor, inundated by hundreds of Bibles being sent to her office and coast-to-coast criticism, has decided to withdraw her subpoenas of “sermons” and other communications belonging to five area pastors who oppose her “nondiscrimination” ordinance that allows “gender-confused” people to use their choice of restrooms.
Mayor Annise Parker, who once admitted the ordinance was all about her, made the announcement at a press conference early Wednesday.
Parker explained she was “directing the city legal department to withdraw the subpoenas issued to the five Houston pastors who delivered the petitions, the anti-HERO petitions, to the city of Houston and who indicated that they were responsible for the overall petition effort.”
The five pastors, however, are not party to the lawsuit against the city, which charges the mayor and city attorney arbitrarily nullified a successful petition effort to force the city council to reconsider its approval of the ordinance or to put it before voters.
Parker continued:”It is extremely important to me to protect our Equal Rights Ordinance from repeal, and it is extremely important to me to make sure that every Houstonian knows that their lives are valid and protected and acknowledged. We are going to continue to vigorously defend our ordinance against repeal efforts.”
A trial in the case is scheduled for January.
Parker’s ordinance was adopted by the council in May over the objections of multiple organizations of pastors and leaders. The opponents then collected more than 50,000 signatures. In the validation process, the city secretary stopped counting after reaching about 19,000, determining that the threshold level of about 17,000 had been reached.
The city attorney then stepped in and declared many thousands of signatures were invalid.
In response to the subpoenas, opponents have urged pastors across the country to send the mayor copies of their sermons and other concerned citizens to send Bibles.
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, whose organization will hold a simulcast rally from Houston on Sunday on the issue, said, “Standing together across the nation, Christians have sent a strong message to Mayor Parker.”
Perkins said that while he and his allies “are encouraged by this evidence that the mayor is responding to pressure and withdrawing her unconstitutional subpoenas, this is about far more than subpoenas.”
“As we have stated since the beginning of this intrusion into the private affairs of Houston churches; this is not about subpoenas, this is not about sermons, it is not even about biblical teaching on sexual immorality, it is about the political intimidation and the bullying by Mayor Parker that continues,” he said.
He will serve as host for the I Stand Sunday event.
The event also will feature former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Duck Dynasty’s Phil and Al Robertson, the five Houston pastors who were targeted, Ronnie Floyd of the Southern Baptist Convention and others.
It will be simulcast into more than 2,500 churches and home groups nationwide.
“Despite the fact that the citizens of Houston gathered over 50,000 signed petitions in 30 days, which is 30,000 more than required by the city charter, the mayor has refused to allow the people of Houston to vote on her unfair special rights ordinance that discriminates against religious freedom within the city and endangers citizens by declaring that public bathrooms can no longer be limited on the basis of a person’s actual biological sex,” Perkins said.
“The citizens of Houston have a right to vote, and Mayor Parker has denied them that right. America must see the totalitarianism that accompanies the redefinition of marriage and human sexuality, which results in citizens being denied their most fundamental rights,” he said. “This Sunday night, thousands of Christians from across the nation will join ‘I Stand Sunday’ to support the pastors and Christians in Houston, Texas and their fundamental rights of religious freedom, freedom of speech and the right to petition their government.”
Other speakers will be Grace Community Church Senior Pastor Steve Riggle, Vietnamese Baptist Church Senior Pastor Khanh Huynh, Dave Welch of the Houston Pastors Council, Iglesia Rios de Aceite Pastor Hernan Castano, Magda Hermida Ministries founder Magda Hermida, MacGregor Palm Community Baptist Church pastor Willie Davis and Second Baptist Church Pastor Ed Young.
Parker had said she wanted copies of sermons or other communications related to homosexuality and the ordinance. Amid widespread public outcry, she changed the request from “sermons” to “speeches.”
The Alliance Defending Freedom, which has been assisting the Houston pastors, called the mayor’s decision to withdraw the subpoenas a triumph.
ADF Senior Legal Counsel Erik Stanley said: “The mayor really had no choice but to withdraw these subpoenas, which should never have been served in the first place. The entire nation – -voices from every point of the spectrum left to right – recognize the city’s action as a gross abuse of power. We are gratified that the First Amendment rights of the pastors have triumphed over government overreach and intimidation. The First Amendment protects the right of pastors to be free from government intimidation and coercion of this sort.”
Contact information for Houston’s Mayor is:
The mayor’s contact information:
Mayor Annise D. Parker
City of Houston
P.O. Box 1562 Houston, Texas 77251
Phone: (713) 837-0311
Mike Huckabee and Phil Robertson Join ‘I Stand Sunday; event to support Houston pastors .