Catholic Values Column: Houston pastors must turn in sermons

BY RACHEL DEL GUIDICE
CATHOLIC VALUES COLUMNIST

Pastors in Houston, Texas have been told to turn in any sermons about controversial topics such as gay marriage and homosexuality.

Fox News reports, “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.”

Alliance Defending Freedom, a nationally recognized law agency that specializes in defending religious liberty is heavily involved in this case.

“The city’s subpoena of sermons and other pastoral communications is both needless and unprecedented,” said Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Christina Holcomb in a statement. “The city council and its attorneys are engaging in an inquisition designed to stifle any critique of its actions.”

This newest infringement of religious freedom comes after some of these same pastors collected 50,000 signatures protesting the city of Houston’s new non-discrimination ordinance that was passed in June by the city council. Besides several other clauses that pertain to sexuality and gender identity, this new ordinance allows men to use the ladies room and vice versa in an effort to protect transgender rights.

“A government has no business using subpoena power to intimidate or bully the preaching and instruction of any church, any synagogue, any mosque or any other place of worship,” said Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. “The pastors of Houston should tell the government that they will not trample over consciences, over the First Amendment and over God-given natural rights.”

While this may appear to be a new phenomenon here in the states, pastors in other countries face the same, if not greater scrutiny.

Even those who brazenly support LGBT rights find this newest measure by Houston government to be a bit of an overreach.

“I will work as hard to defend the freedom of speech from the pulpit for those with whom I disagree, as I will to defend the rights of the LGBT community. As long as a sermon is not inciting violence, the government has no business getting involved in the content of ministers’ sermons,” said Rev. C. Welton Gaddy, president of the Interfaith Alliance. Gaddy also said these new measures would have a “dangerous, chilling effect.”

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