Houston Pastor: City Wants to See My Sermons, Emails, Text Messages
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is demanding that Houston city officials withdraw the subpoenas they issued to five local pastors.
The City of Houston demanded that the pastors turn over sermons and correspondence with parishioners which discuss sexuality, gender identity and openly gay Houston Mayor Annise Parker.
The subpoena is part of an ongoing controversy in Houston, where some are opposed to a law which allows men who identify as women to use the ladies bathroom, and vice versa. Opponents of the bill filed a lawsuit, so the city issued subpoenas.
Now, Abbott is calling the subpoenas a direct assault on religious liberty and is demanding that they are rescinded.
On "The Kelly File," Todd Starnes said it "looks like the mayor got her hand caught in the religious liberty cookie jar."
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, called the situation “chilling.”
“This is about political intimidation,” he said.
Perkins referenced the separation of church and state, saying, “[Parker] has taken a bulldozer to that wall of separation and is now trying to drive into the church and dictate what pastors preach. She is using the bully pulpit to try and silence the pulpits of the churches of Houston.”
Meanwhile, Parker tweeted:
If the 5 pastors used pulpits for politics, their sermons are fair game. Were instructions given on filling out anti-HERO petition?-A
— Annise Parker (@AnniseParker) October 15, 2014
Later, Sean Hannity spoke to Steve Riggle, pastor at Grace Church, and Erik Stanley of the Alliance Defending Freedom (video above). Hannity highlighted a statement from the mayor's office that claimed she was unaware of the subpoenas until the day before.
Riggle said officials wanted his sermons, emails, text messages or anything else he said about the equal rights ordinance, sexuality or Mayor Parker. He said they also wanted to see any communications between Riggle and his congregation.
Riggle argued that he finds it very hard to believe that the mayor did not know about the subpoenas until just a few days ago.
Stanley called the move an "unprecedented attack" on the First Amendment rights of pastors.
"They want to be the arbiters of what is right and wrong. And now they want to troll through pastors' sermons to determine if what they said was true or false," said Stanley.
Watch that discussion below: