Houston, You Have A Problem *Open Thread* *Updated*

by

Update at the end of the post.

To paraphrase the saying from astronauts in space and all. Houston DOES have a problem, as does the rest of the country, when cities are able to compel ministers to provide sermons, sermon notes, correspondence, and more, all for political reasons, lest they be held in contempt.

I mentioned this issue in the Comments of my last post, but the more I think about this issue, the more disconcerting I find it to be. I first learned of it via this article form Allen West, “Christian persecution in the US: Openly gay Houston mayor demands pastors turn over sermons.”

The basis of this article was a report by Fox News that, frankly, I find chilling: “City of Houston demands pastors turn over sermons.” Just on the FACE of it, this is disturbing. It certainly is to me as a minister, but even more as an AMERICAN. Here is the heart of the matter:

[…] “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. […]

I’ll say this is unprecedented, and it is astonishing that the city of Houston is even attempting to do this in flagrant violation of the First Amendment, never mind Separation of Church and State.

And allow me to digress for just a moment on what this separation means. It is NOT to keep religion out of the state. Rather, it is just the opposite, to keep the STATE out of religion. We have Founding Father Thomas Jefferson to thank for this concept, and to some great minds from back in that period. From US History:

During the debate over ratification of the constitution, Oliver Ellsworth of Connecticut wrote an article that was printed in December 1787, in which he defended the decision to forbid religious tests for public office:

Some very worthy persons, who have not had great advantages for information, have objected against that clause in the constitution which provides, that no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States. They have been afraid that this clause is unfavorable to religion. But my countrymen, the sole purpose and effect of it is to exclude persecution, and to secure to you the important right of religious liberty. We are almost the only people in the world, who have a full enjoyment of this important right of human nature. In our country every man has a right to worship God in that way which is most agreeable to his conscience.

John Leland was a largely self-educated clergyman, born in Massachusetts in 1754. He ministered in Virginia as a young man before returning to Massachusetts in 1791. He was in Virginia during the ratification debate, which he opposed without the inclusion of a Bill of Rights. During a long career, he consistently argued against established churches, and lived to see the Congregational Church disestablished in Massachusetts in 1823.

In 1791, Leland wrote a piece on why the government should not be involved in religion:

Every man must give an account of himself to God, and therefore every man ought to be at liberty to serve God in that way that he can best reconcile it to his conscience. If government can answer for individuals at the day of judgment, let men be controlled by it in religious matters; otherwise let men be free.</ (Emphasis mine.)

;[…] (Click here to read the rest.)

THAT is the crux of the matter right there: “If government can answer for individuals at the day of judgment, let men be controlled by it in religious matters; otherwise let men be free.”

For the Mayor of Houston, and the City Council, to demand of these ministers their sermons and related information, to determine if they have spoken out against the Mayor or a policy the City of Houston has passed is appalling (they overturned a petition with more than 3 times the number of signatories needed to get it on the ballot, claiming many were fraudulent. Right.). And it is an affront to our liberties, religious and civic, in my opinion.

Back to the Fox News article:

[…] 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.” […] (Click here to read the rest of this piece.)

And rightly so. These ministers should not be compelled to forgo their First Amendment rights to appease a group that is abusing its power.

While the City of Houston seems to be trying to walk this back a bit now as this HotAir article highlights(h/t Helen), they seem to be more concerned with the APPEARANCE of the subpoenas, and not the actual substance or intent of these subpoenas.

So, yeah, bottom line is I do not know what is going on in Houston, but they, WE, most definitely have a problem…

UPDATE: Thanks to the PJ Media article for which Helenk posted a link, we have this update from the AG of Texas, also gubernatorial candidate, Greg Abbot, directed to Mr. Feldman, the attorney for the City of Houston:

Your office has demanded that four Houston pastors hand over to the city government many of their private papers, including their sermons. Whether you intend it to be so or not, your action is a direct assault on the religious liberty guaranteed by the First Amendment. 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. I call on you to withdraw the subpoenas without further delay.

I recognize that the subpoenas arise from litigation related to a petition to repeal an ordinance adopted by the city council. But the litigation discovery process is not a license for government officials to inquire into religious affairs. Nor is your office’s desire to vigorously support the ordinance any excuse for these subpoenas. No matter what public policy is at stake, government officials must exercise the utmost care when our work touches on religious matters. If we err, it must be on the side of preserving the autonomy of religious institutions and the liberty of religious believers. Your aggressive and invasive subpoenas show no regard for the very serious First Amendment considerations at stake.

A statement released by the Mayor’s Office claims that the subpoenas were prepared by outside lawyers and that neither you nor Mayor Parker was aware of them before they were issued. Nevertheless, these lawyers acted in the City’s name, and you are responsible for their actions. You should immediately instruct your lawyers to withdraw the City’s subpoenas. Religious institutions and their congregants should never have to worry that a government they disagree with will attempt to interfere in their religious affairs. Instead of safeguarding that trust, you appear to have given some of the most powerful law firms in Houston free rein to harass and intimidate pastors who oppose City policy. In good faith, I hope you merely failed to anticipate how inappropriately aggressive your lawyers would be. Many, however, believe your actions reflect the city government’s hostility to religious beliefs that do not align with city policies.

I urge you to demonstrate the City’s commitment to religious liberty and to true diversity of belief by unilaterally withdrawing these subpoenas immediately. Your stated intention to wait for further court proceedings falls woefully short of the urgent action needed to reassure the people of Houston that their government respects their freedom of religion and does not punish those who oppose city policies on religious grounds.

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

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57 Responses to “Houston, You Have A Problem *Open Thread* *Updated*”

  1. HELENK3 Says:

    another story on this.
    try this link

    http://pjmedia.com/tatler/2014/10/16/houstons-mayor-backtracks-on-church-subpoenas-tosses-her-own-lawyers-under-the-bus/

    • kenoshamarge Says:

      Dems seem to have gained a real talent for bus-tossing. Funny how the people who claim that they are or have been denied their rights seem so willing to deny others theirs. Without double standards these scum would have no standards at all.

      It does not seem to occur to these people that their is no law against not liking someone or their way of life. There is no law against speaking out and letting others how you feel. We may or may not agree with those people but if we deny them their right of free speech then there is no free speech.

      This is what the zealots, both left and right, never seems to understand. Or at least that’s how it seems to me.

      • Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy Says:

        That is just it, Marge – to not accept that we REALLY do have free speech, whether someone likes it or not – is the BEAUTY of this country. That they cannot see what history has taught abt silencing people, or look at countries abroad now that silence people, and the damage that does, is just mind boggling. I don’t have to agree with these ministers to assert their right to say what they want (though honestly, I do not want men coming into the women’s room. Nope, I surely do not.).

        It is the sheer arrogance that they also manifest that is just deplorable that adds to the insult…

        • kenoshamarge Says:

          Houston Mayor uses lawfare against local churches

          Senator Ted Cruz is holding a rally this morning with the pastors under fire. Annise Parker succeeded in making national headlines, although probably not in the way she hoped.

  2. HELENK3 Says:

    TSA leader retiring

    another one bites the dust

    • HELENK3 Says:

      here is a link

      TSA Administrator John Pistole to retire from the agency after 4 1/2 years as its chief – @DHSgov statement

  3. HELENK3 Says:

    http://weaselzippers.us/202662-houston-dem-mayor-on-second-thought-maybe-we-wont-subpoena-sermons-from-local-pastors/

    she has such a smug look on her face.

  4. insanitybytes22 Says:

    Can I tip my hat to you, Rev Amy? Good post as usual. You’re good at cutting through the crap.

    I had to laugh at the juxtaposition of this issue, because you just can’t walk around crying all the time. Anyway, Mayor Parker is chair of the national anti bullying campaign and just recently declared October to be anti-bullying month. October is also Pastor appreciation month. So what better way to multi task, right? Let’s try to bully some pastors! Honestly sometimes my sarcasm reaches such heights, I’m not even sure were the line is anymore.

    Anyway, I also blogged about this.

    http://insanitybytes2.wordpress.com/2014/10/16/on-dealing-with-bullies/

    • Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy Says:

      Thanks so much, insanity! And thank you for the link to your blog. I encourage everyone to go take a look at insanity’s great piece on this.

      Oh, the irony, the irony – of COURSE Paker has declared October “anti-bullying” month.

      You know of whom she reminds me? Dan Savage, the gay anti-bully advocate who is, himself, quite the bully: https://rabblerouserruminations.wordpress.com/2012/04/30/talk-about-being-unclear-on-the-concept/

      • insanitybytes22 Says:

        Thanks Rev Amy. Ah, yes, Dan Savage. Let me tell you there is nothing weirder then being a woman, a rather lowly one at that, and being lectured about the need to watch your alleged “privilege”…..by a privileged man!

        This theme of bullying people in the name of anti-bullying has been going on since at least May 31, 2008.

        • Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy Says:

          “Lowly” you most certainly are not, Insanity! I’d say you’re way up there, at least in my book! 🙂

          I get your point, though. Savage is such a huge bully – and the irony seems completely lost on people like him and Parker, doesn’t it? Just stunning, and not in a good way…

          Uh, yeah – that it has (5/31/08) – good point!

    • kenoshamarge Says:

      To do this during “Anti-Bullying” month is a laugh. People like the Mayor never understand the irony of their own actions. Or the hypocrisy.

      Sooner of later the Christians in this country are going to get angry enough about the left and the media “bullying” them and do something about it. Or not. Do they even care enough anymore?

      • Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy Says:

        I think what happened in Houston should serve as a real wake up call to those who keep thinking, “well, it hasn’t gotten too bad yet…” You know, the whole frog-in-the-pot thing. I reckon we’ll see.

        Ain’t that the truth abt the hypocrisy and irony, Marge. It is really just astonishing. But they have learned they can get away with this stuff because they HAVE gotten away with this stuff for so long, while acting like they are standing up for the people and they are the victims. It is truly remarkable.

  5. HELENK3 Says:

    http://prepperchimp.com/2014/10/15/police-captain-punished-for-refusing-to-attend-muslim-brotherhood-linked-mosque/

    what is going on in this country???
    If I remember my history, we left a country to gain religious freedom and millions came here for the same thing.
    when did that change?

    • Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy Says:

      WTH?? No one should be FORCED to attend something anyway, but to try to force someone who has made an oath to protect and serve to go to a mosque with connections to a terrorist organization bent on our (and Israel’s) destruction, is appalling.

  6. HELENK3 Says:

    http://nalert.blogspot.com/2014/10/andrew-klavan-helping-pro-obama-media.html

    I love the man

    • Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy Says:

      This was awesome – thank you. I needed some humor after all this other stuff…

    • kenoshamarge Says:

      I am also a big Klavan fan Helen. I love the way he makes the fools look like the fools and hypocrites, not to mention liars that they are.

  7. Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy Says:

    The hearing is going on now with the CDC. In that light, allow me to share a link from a Facebook friend (further) revealing what a partisan lackey Frieden is: http://douglasernstblog.com/2013/03/08/cdcs-tom-frieden-oh-crap-ive-just-been-exposed-as-an-obama-stooge-by-rep-andy-harris/

  8. HELENK3 Says:

    http://www.breitbart.com/Breitbart-London/2014/10/16/DRC-New-Ebola-Strain

    2nd ebola strain found

    E njoy
    B arack
    O bama’s
    L egacy
    A merica

  9. HELENK3 Says:

    http://ulstermanbooks.com/barack-obamas-1-million-acres-federal-land-grab/

    there are so many scandals and actions that are not good in the backtrack years.
    God help us when we find out all that flew under the radar

  10. HELENK3 Says:

    http://weaselzippers.us/202676-white-house-officially-at-defcon-1-over-ebola-release-third-photo-of-obama-working-on-crisis/

    for a guy who is not supposed to like “photo ops” he seems to like them for the last couple of days

    • Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy Says:

      No kidding, huh? It was the most ludicrous comment Obama has ever made – abt photo ops. For a man who seeks out cameras every where he goes, wanting constant adulation, the only time he DOESN’T want to be in front of one is when he’s having to deal with real issues and not campaigning. Sheesh.

  11. HELENK3 Says:

    http://smallcraftadvisorychronicles.blogspot.com/2014/10/the-most-inconsequential-election-of.html

    this is one of the saddest statements on the state of our country today that I have heard

    • foxyladi14 Says:

      I saw on Fox this morning that we may not know the results of the election until Jan.
      Expect a lot of recounts ect. 😦

  12. HELENK3 Says:

    http://weaselzippers.us/202695-breaking-protesters-outside-white-house-calling-for-ban-on-flights-from-west-africa/

    protests outside white house

  13. HELENK3 Says:

    Live video: Dallas County commissioners will consider issuing a disaster declaration in response to Ebola – @NBCNews
    see original on nbcnews.com

  14. HELENK3 Says:

    Frontier Airlines says it is searching for passengers from at least 5 flights who flew on same plane as Ebola-infected Dallas nurse – @ABC
    Read more on abcnews.go.com

    • Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy Says:

      Yeah, I wondered abt all of those passengers from those flights.

      Again I say, this goes directly back to Obama and his policies. His flippant responses abt Ebola not coming here, his refusal to ban flights, his getting his CDC director to toe the party line, all of the people who have been exposed can blame Obama.

      And this continued crap of trying to blame the Reps for the lack of funds for a vaccine is just more of an unfounded blame game they like to play rather than taking any responsibility for their own actions. It is bad for the country, plain and simple.

    • foxyladi14 Says:

      They were probably from a lot of different States too. :facepalm:

  15. foxyladi14 Says:

    I sure hope they ban people from those countries from coming here, 🙂

  16. HELENK3 Says:

    https://www.uschamber.com/blog/how-obamacare-distorts-labor-market?utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=Wallpost&utm_campaign=Status

    how obamacare distorts labor market

  17. HELENK3 Says:

    http://weaselzippers.us/202712-texas-attorney-general-to-houston-city-attorney-stop-bullying-christians/

    thought you would like this

  18. HELENK3 Says:

    CDC to contact travelers who flew on Oct. 11 Frontier flight 1142 due to new info learned from close contacts of Dallas nurse with Ebola – @CNBCnow

  19. kenoshamarge Says:

    Another very good article by Daniel Greenfield. Don’t you all hope he’s right?

    The Progressive Pajama Boy Era Is Over

    http://www.frontpagemag.com/2014/dgreenfield/the-progressive-pajama-boy-era-is-over/

  20. HELENK3 Says:

    http://americanthinker.com/2014/10/ebola_first_do_no_harm.html

    Do we pay for the CDC or does West Africa? just wondering

  21. HELENK3 Says:

    http://www.fireandreamitchell.com/2014/10/16/obama-dhs-expediting-visa-requests-ebola-infected-countries/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+FireAndreaMitchell+%28Fire+Andrea+Mitchell!+Exposing+Liberal+bias+cause+the+MSM+doesn%27t+have+to.%29

    backtrack’s DHS expediting visas from ebola infected countries

  22. HELENK3 Says:

    http://theconservativetreehouse.com/2014/10/17/whoopsie-dallas-blood-lab-tech-who-handled-patient-zero-lab-specimens-is-on-caribbean-cruise/

    lab tech who handled patient zero lab specimens is on Caribbean cruise to Belize. that country will not allow the ship to land. It looks like the lab tech is sick too

    • Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy Says:

      And from what I heard this morning, Belize would NOT allow anyone to disembark from the ship while in port.

      Once again, Obama’s TERRIBLE decisions are having far-reaching consequences. These people paid to go on this cruise, and to go see these countries, and the COUNTRIES rely on tourism dollars. So, Obama’s refusal to declare a ban, and stop letting these people in has affected the ship, schools, a bridal store (where the second nurse went), and more.

      Heckuva job, Barack.

  23. HELENK3 Says:

    http://www.jammiewf.com/2014/not-enough-to-worry-about-yet-islamic-state-training-pilots-to-fly/

    wonderful!!!!!!!!
    isis is training pilots to fly

    • kenoshamarge Says:

      Isn’t that special. And don’t we have plenty more tall buildings for them to fly into? It isn’t as if they will have a difficult time getting into this country. We wouldn’t want to be “Islamophobic” or anything would we?

      Will someone please tell me when we can stop apologizing for being angry about Muslims murdering our people on 9/11? Because I honestly don’t think my rage has a shelf life.

      I was outraged then and still feel much the same. I will never get the image of Muslims dancing in the streets for joy as our people jumped from the top of the Towers to escape being burned alive. Never!

      And if some Muslims don’t like it they can kiss my gluteus maximus!

      • Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy Says:

        Couldn’t have said it better myself, Marge!

        And this is why their attempts at getting the airport in Baghdad are so critical to prevent. They have taken over an old chemical weapons plant, they are learning to fly, AND they want an airport. I think their intention is pretty damn clear.

        Guess that makes me “Islamophobic, huh? Oh, well.

  24. HELENK3 Says:

    http://pjmedia.com/tatler/2014/10/16/kiwi-pumpkin-seeds-cant-cross-border-but-ebola-can/

    something to think about

  25. HELENK3 Says:

    opinion poll
    should the democrats change their party symbol from the donkey to the four horsemen of the apocalypse?

  26. HELENK3 Says:

    http://www.cnn.com/2014/10/17/politics/ebola-czar-ron-klain/index.html?hpt=hp_t1

    A LAWYER??????
    A BACKTRACK BUNCH INSIDER LAWYER???????
    YOU HAVE TO BE KIDDING

    • Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy Says:

      I know, right? Isn’t that just INCREDIBLE?? What the HELL does he know abt ANY of this??? Just another way to give a DNC insider more of our money…

      Oh, and they are reporting he is the “coordinator,” not czar. And Carl of Fox is reporting that he is most definitely a partisan guy. Perfect – because we don’t have enough of THAT in this Administration.

      • HELENK3 Says:

        he worked for biden and al gore.
        oh yeah i have a lot of confidence that he has a clue NOT

        • Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy Says:

          Isn’t that incredible? He is a complete and utter partisan HACK – that is his main claim to fame, it seems. So of COURSE Obama picked him. Just stands to reason, huh??

          UGH.

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