An Overly Broad Subpoena Fuels Christian Persecution Complex

The city of Houston issued a subpoena in a lawsuit asking for copies of internal church documents, including potentially sermons preached by ministers. That subpoena was clearly overly broad and the city quickly backed off and said that they would narrow its scope. But the Christian right is busy cranking up their persecution complex over it. The American Family Association:

OneNewsNow is reporting that Mayor Parker and the City of Houston, fighting a lawsuit related to the ordinance, is demanding that five pastors turn over sermon notes and private communications with church members.

Did you catch that? The mayor is demanding that sermon notes, emails, videos, and any negative comments about homosexuality or the mayor herself, be turned over to her. If the pastors refuse, the mayor has threatened to charge them with contempt of court and possible fines or jail time…

The mayor is using intimidation, threats and bully tactics in an attempt to silence anyone who will not embrace her lesbian lifestyle.

Does the First Amendment mean nothing to Mayor Parker? Does religious freedom and freedom of speech mean nothing to Mayor Parker? Does the people’s petition process mean nothing to Mayor Parker?

Mind you, this action alert was sent out a day after the city backed down and withdrew the subpoena, which they of course do not mention. The Thomas More Law Center did the same thing. Pat Robertson said that she did this because of her “lesbian predilections.” What’s amusing about this, particularly with the AFA, is that their own director of issues analysis, Bryan Fischer, says that the First Amendment applies only to Congress, not to states or cities. Until it suddenly doesn’t.

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  • Chiroptera

    …Bryan Fischer, says that the First Amendment applies only to Congress, not to states or cities. Until it suddenly doesn’t.

    Well, to be fair, I’m sure the Texas state constitution also has First and Fourth Amendment analogs. Which undoubtably is just supposed to protect good white Christians, not African-Americans or Hispanics. Or LGBT groups. Or other unAmericans.

  • John Pieret

    What’s amusing about this, particularly with the AFA, is that their own director of issues analysis, Bryan Fischer, says that the First Amendment applies only to Congress, not to states or cities. Until it suddenly doesn’t.

    Ah, the “who’s ox is being gored” school of constitutional interpretation!

  • Rick Pikul

    @Chiroptera:

    Well, you are right that the Texas constitution only really protects Christians, (or at least monotheists):

    “Sec. 4. RELIGIOUS TESTS. No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office, or public trust, in this State; nor shall any one be excluded from holding office on account of his religious sentiments, provided he acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being.”

    “Sec. 6. FREEDOM OF WORSHIP. All men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences.”

    (Yes, Section 4 violates the federal constitution. Texas was enforcing the requirement at least as recently as the 1990s.)

  • whheydt

    Actually, while kind of broad, the subpoena strikes me as a not unreasonable reaction the the churches getting involved in a political issue, and that exemplifies the reason for separation of church and state.

    As for “If the pastors refuse, the mayor has threatened to charge them with contempt of court”, that’s utter bollocks. It’s not within the mayor’s power. She’d have to ask the court to hold them in contempt. Whoever wrote that needs a basic civics lesson since he appears never to have had one.

    On the whole, this is a tempest in a teapot. The churches are attempting to meddle in civic affairs and are getting called on it.

  • otrame

    nor shall any one be excluded from holding office on account of his religious sentiments, provided he acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being.”

    I read that to my son when he was about 17. His response? “Okay. I’m running for Governor.”

    I have cool kids.