Texas – Democratic Mayor Annise Parker has decided she doesn’t like what Christian church ministers are saying about homosexuality, same-sex marriage and other sexual orientation issues, according to a religious organization and talk show host on Thursday.
She is now threatening to punish any pastor who does not submit their sermons to her office for approval and possible editing.
Her “legal” pronouncement commands that Christian church pastors must submit all of their sermons, emails, and text messages, even communications with members of their congregations, or face the threat of fines, imprisonment or both.
Dave Welch, the executive director of the Texas Pastor Council, is one of the five ministers who received a subpoena for not following her new law.
He said he will not be intimidated by Annise Parker, who is the city’s first openly lesbian mayor, nor will he comply with the city’s demands.
“My answer to that is – bring it on,” he said.
The new law, which has yet to take effect, would (among other things) allow men who claim to be women to use the restrooms of their choice – and vice versa.
Opponents launched a petition drive to put the issue on the ballot. However, the mayor threw out the petitions claiming there were not enough legitimate signatures. Opponents then filed a lawsuit – which led the city to issue the subpoenas according to foxnews.
Welch said that pastors across the Lone Star State are mobilizing and in the very near future they plan to hold a “Don’t Mess with Texas Pulpit Sunday” event.
“We are dealing with bullies used to getting away with abuse of power,” Welch said. “We called their bluff on this.”
City Attorney David Feldman said that doesn’t matter. He said in an interview Tuesday that the five pastors were actively involved in leading the fight against the Bathroom Bill and launching the petition drive.
“They are not party plaintiffs but they certainly appeared before council repeatedly regarding the ordinance and the petition,” Feldman said.
Alliance Defending Freedom, a law firm specializing in religious cases, is representing the pastors. They accused City Hall of going on a fishing expedition.
“City council members are supposed to be public servants, not ‘Big Brother’ overlords who will tolerate no dissent or challenge,” ADF attorney Erik Stanley said. “This is designed to intimidate pastors.
Russell Moore, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission called the Houston incident a case of “legal bullying” and addressed it in a recent blog posting:
“The separation of church and state means that we will render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s, and we will. But the preaching of the church of God does not belong to Caesar, and we will not hand it over to him. Not now. Not ever.”
Ultimately, this is not about homosexuals or lesbians or a Bathroom Bill. This is about the U.S. Constitution. This is about religious liberty.
This is about a group of pastors refusing to comply with the demands of the government. And they do so at the risk of being held in contempt of court.
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