Just when you were wondering: “how much worse can the attack on the First Amendment get?” — it gets worse.
City of Houston demands pastors turn over sermons
by Todd Starnes
The city of Houston has issued subpoenas demanding a group of pastors turn over any sermons dealing with homosexuality, gender identity or Annise Parker, the city’s first openly lesbian mayor. And those ministers who fail to comply could be held in contempt of court.
Read that again and begin to fully and truly digest its meaning.
Annise D. Parker is a Stalinist mayor in America. This is the re-creation of the Stasi and Brown Shirts all over again within the borders of the United States of America.
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.
The Houston Chronicle reported opponents of the ordinance launched a petition drive that generated more than 50,000 signatures – far more than the 17,269 needed to put a referendum on the ballot.
However, the city threw out the petition in August over alleged irregularities.
After opponents of the bathroom bill filed a lawsuit the city’s attorneys responded by issuing the subpoenas against the pastors.
But here’s the Crux of the Biscuit:
The pastors were not part of the lawsuit. However, they were part of a coalition of some 400 Houston-area churches that opposed the ordinance. The churches represent a number of faith groups – from Southern Baptist to non-denominational.
Therefore, you can chalk the subpoenas up to nothing more than retribution. And jackbooted authoritarianism.
The lawsuit and subpoenas were designed to intimidate, quash and chill the free speech of pastors and base religious freedoms themselves.
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.
Pages ripped from the playbooks of both Saul Alinsky’s “Rules For Radicals” as well as Stalin and Marx:
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.”
No kidding. The response:
David Welch, director of the Houston Area 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.”
Pastor Welch said: “We can no longer remain silent. We must stand together – because one day – the government might come for your pastor.”
This, of course, reminds me of the classic quote from another pastor named Martin Niemoller:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Final question: do you think this would have occurred with regard to Islamic sermons in America? Do you think Islam “loves” gays?
I know my answers.