Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Lesbian mayor of Houston demands Houston pastors' sermons

In this piece of news,

61st Mayor of Houston,
Assumed office 1/2/2010. Wikipedia.
City of Houston demands pastors turn over sermons
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.

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. 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.

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.

[Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council said] This is the moment I wrote about in my book, “God Less America.” I predicted that the government would one day try to silence American pastors. I warned that under the guise of “tolerance and diversity” elected officials would attempt to deconstruct religious liberty. Sadly, that day arrived sooner than even I expected
We know that the way that society is going here in America that this day would arrive. I believe we have all seen a dramatic acceleration in soft hostility against Western Christianity in just the last few years. That the State would begin to bully Christians in a harder persecution would not be long in coming. I personally believe this act from the Houston Mayor is a kind of bridge step in going from soft pressure to hard persecution.

Russell Moore, speaking on behalf of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, wrote yesterday,

Houston, We Have a Constitution
Reports coming out of Houston today indicate that city attorneys have issued subpoenas to pastors who have been vocal in opposition to the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), a measure which deals with gender identity and sexuality in public accommodations. The subpoenas, issued to several pastors, seek “all speeches, presentations, or sermons related to HERO, the Petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity prepared by, delivered by, revised by, or approved by you or in your possession.”

I am simply stunned by the sheer audacity of this.

The preaching of sermons in the pulpits of churches is of no concern to any government bureaucrat at all. This country settled, a long time ago, with a First Amendment that the government would not supervise, license, or bully religious institutions. That right wasn’t handed out by the government, as a kind of temporary restraining order. It was recognition of a self-evident truth.

The churches, and pastors, of Houston ought to respond to this sort of government order with the same kind of defiance the Apostle Paul showed the magistrates in Philippi...
MORE AT LINK, please read. It is good and it's not long.

Dr Steve Riggle
Dr. Steve Riggle of Grace Community Church of Houston was mentioned by name in the article. Here is Dr Riggle speaking two years ago of the need for pastors to be the moral, prophetic voice in their communities and about the reason pastors need to continue speaking of these cultural issues. The excerpt below is from the 6-minute clip below:

If I don't speak up for the people at Grace, then who are they listening to? Because what other voice is out there? And the voices that they're being inundated by all around them are not the voices of righteousness nor are of a stance that adheres to biblical fidelity. It's imperative for me because I'm trying to to shape their worldview in a biblical sense. If I don't speak out on issues like homosexuality - what the bible really says - in a way where why God said 'no' is seasoned with mercy and grace for the person, but not countenancing the sin, then how do they know that? Because who else is going to say it? ... We raise up authentic followers of Christ who walk in righteousness and see themselves as salt in the culture. And to do that, they have to have a solid biblical foundation.


He speaks on the need for pastors to stand with each other. In seminary, regardless of the degree level a seminarian is at, the legal complexities are not taught, Riggle said. It can be overwhelming for a shepherd to be confronted with legal complexities and legal pressure from the worldly culture.

He also speaks of the difference between pastors who respond to their work as a calling and pastors who see their job as a vocation. Pastors who are in a calling will do anything to further the cause. The difference is that one is a leader and another is not. One will speak up and the other will not.

In an interesting turnabout, two years ago during an earlier contretemps with Dr Riggle, Mayor Parker said,
"...it’s her duty “to uphold the state Constitution and the U.S. Constitution. I swore an oath to that. I take that oath very seriously, but I have my First Amendment rights to free speech. We all have the right to do that and I’m sorry that they [Riggle and his supporters] don’t understand the Constitution. I’m going to continue to follow my oath of office, lead the city well but speak out on issues that I care about.”
It might be wise for Ms Parker to remember that freedom of speech to promote 'issues that she cares about' goes both ways in this Constitution she cited two years ago when it suited her.

Pastors need prayer. Even if the Houston Mayor backs down, this shot across the bow has opened the Pandora's Box for all manner of evil to come flying out. Once the demand has been made, it cannot be unmade. Other towns and cities will follow suit in Houston's precedent, and quickly too. One of those times, the demand will stick. Pastors, are you prepared to go to jail? THE QUESTION IS NOT RHETORICAL in the US any longer!


However, in the mythological Pandora's Box, when all the other evil had flooded the world after being released, what remained behind? Hope. In real life, not myths, Jesus tells us that we always have His hope.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)

He IS hope. He gives us His hope AND His power so that we may overflow in it. In John 16:32 Jesus said the hour was coming when all will scatter and He will be left alone. He concluded by saying,

"Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me."

The Father is with us all. Unite in prayer and like-mindedness so that the Houston pastors are emboldened, energized by the Spirit as they abound in hope. The Houston Mayor is not the enemy. We all have a common enemy and he is satan. But this enemy has already been defeated. Let's pray for the Mayor, her cohorts, as we should be praying for our leaders. And always remember that against the Father, who can stand?

_______________________

Further reading

Joel Osteen gives blessing prayer at Annise Parker's Inauguration





10 comments :

  1. I thought the same thing when I read a few days ago the article you quoted - this is it. Here it begins.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ephesians 6:10-12 “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

    The ONLY good thing about this horrific yet predictable development is that maybe those claiming to be Christians will get off the fence when deciding whether teachers like Beth Moore are false. While she isn’t the only false teacher in Texas, she and others like her don't provide any solid ground teaching to stand against Satan and his cohorts. The litmus test is the fruit of their teachings will prove to be a wet paper bag compared to the fruit of the faithful and strong teachers who preach the Word; those who know the real enemy is far more formidable than the flesh and blood pawns like this lesbian mayor.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hey, does this demand from Mayor Annise Parker extend to the Muslim faith leaders? Does it extend to all the Roman Catholic church leaders? Or is she just discriminating against a chosen few?

    Just asking...

    ReplyDelete
  4. Okay, so I did some more reading about this situation and learned a couple of things.

    First, when someone files a lawsuit it is customary for the attorneys on both sides to subpoena all relevant information. That's why this is being done; perhaps there is an ulterior motive (bullying), but the procedure is standard.

    Second, it is likely the city is looking for evidence that the pastors have violated the terms of their tax-exempt status. If so, it seems a bit disingenuous for these churches to take advantage of tax exemptions - which they know come at the cost of limiting what they speak about - and then cry foul when the government investigates to see if they broke the rules.

    I can't help but wonder if these pastors should have been involved in the lawsuit to begin with. It is heartbreaking to see filth and wickedness being legislated more and more in this country, but preaching the gospel is the way to change hearts and lives, not litigation.

    What do you think?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much for this perspective. I tend to agree with you. A wide net for subpoenas is usually the first salvo. The judge limits it if he or she wants. So the key is 'relevant' information, not just "all sermons". However, I am perplexed by the demand for personal correspondence between pastor and congregants. I believe a pastor could reasonably argue not only is it private correspondence between two private citizens, but that the pastor is in a position of counselor as one of his job duties. Counselees have a reasonable expectation of privacy

      I agree about the tax exempt status. I tend to think though, that in order to prove a violation of status, the aggrieved party should have some kind of evidence to support such a wide net - instead of asking for anything the pastor has ever said in a sermon.

      Alternately, sermons are usually recorded and are online or available to the public, any public, via request of DVD and CD so I don't know why the litigation.

      Are you saying the pastors are initiating some kind of litigation, when you say they're involved? I thought they had initiated a petition of some sort. Still, I am unsure of the bounds of tax exempt status and how far a pastor should or should not go in engaging in political activity which would violate that status..

      In a turnabout, the churches could file a FOIA request for anything the Mayor has ever written or emailed regarding this topic, and it doesn't even have to be part of litigation, ALL correspondence (personnel matters excepted, and ongoing contract negotiations) in government bodies are open for inspection. It should be free too, if the requesting party wants to sit inside town hall and read it in situ, or if he or she wants it to make copies the copies should be at cost or a reasonable price. It has to be produced in reasonable time, too. Those are generally the usual FOIA standards.

      Delete
  5. "I am perplexed by the demand for personal correspondence between pastor and congregants."

    The mayor has apparently agreed that the initial subpoenas were overly broad.

    "Are you saying the pastors are initiating some kind of litigation, when you say they're involved?"

    I misspoke when I said that. The lawsuit is based on the petitions submitted to the city asking to get the ordinance on the ballot next month, which were rejected by the city. The pastors were not involved in filing the lawsuit, but they were instrumental in organizing the petitions, so they are relevant to the lawsuit.

    I just read something that quoted the mayor as saying that she believes the pastors did something wrong when instructing people about the petitions, although I can't figure out if it has to do with their tax exempt status or something else.

    "In a turnabout, the churches could file a FOIA request for anything the Mayor has ever written or emailed regarding this topic"

    That would be interesting. :) Although it probably wouldn't be the best use of a pastor's/church's time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Grace To You.

      I agree it wouldn't be a great use of time, though it wouldn't take much time. You fill out a form and send it in. But if there was a private citizen who is in the same predicament, I just wanted to let people know that there is a mechanism available to them that is purposely put in place in advocacy FOR the citizen.

      Yes the Mayor's initial subpoena was too broad, but that she asked is troublesome. She likely wanted to make it as broad as possible and then ratchet back. Shooting for the stars and reaching the moon so to speak. That she asked at all is still perplexing. No elected official in their right mind would go that far. Oops, she isn't in her right mind, no one is, unless they are in Jesus.

      Delete
  6. The irony: homosexuals claim to have been bullied by Christians, but the first homosexual mayor in Houston wastes no time in bullying Christians.

    Sinners like to see themselves as victims, even though God is THEIR victim (not to imply weakness in victimhood in the latter case)

    ReplyDelete
  7. It seems beyond reasonable to prevent clergy from speaking about issues which have always been part of said religion's doctrine, if those issues also become publicly and politically debated. If Americans can be lulled into swallowing such control from government, any horrible outcome becomes possible. The guardrails will have been removed.

    ReplyDelete