Houston Subpoenas of Anti-Gay Pastors Went Too Far, but There May Still Be Reason to Investigate Their Churches

Earlier this month, about 1,800 evangelical Christian pastors across the country participated in “Pulpit Freedom Sunday,” where they defied the law by endorsing political candidates from the pulpits of their tax-exempt churches. The law basically says that non-profit groups, including churches, don’t have to pay taxes, but in exchange, non-profit leaders (including pastors) can’t tell members how to vote. They can, however, discuss policy issues without the threat of punishment.

The IRS ignored these candidate-endorsing pastors for years due to (what they say were) bureaucratic reasons, but they recently settled a lawsuit brought about by the Freedom From Religion Foundation and promised they would prosecute pastors who violated the law.

Which brings us to what’s happening in Houston, Texas right now.

The city has what’s called the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO). Recently, an amendment was added onto it that offers protection so that transgender individuals could use a bathroom at a public facility that matches their gender identity.

Conservatives were unhappy with that for the usual reasons; some believe that the law would let men walk into a women’s bathroom (or vice versa) on a whim, some are opposed to LGBT rights in general, Houston’s mayor is a lesbian and some people are still angry about that, etc. They wanted a voter referendum on the ordinance change, so they began to collect the signatures necessary to get the issue on the ballot. According to city officials, many of those signatures were invalid, putting a stop to the challenge.

That’s when conservative groups filed a lawsuit against the city.

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Justice Scalia: “Religious Beliefs Aren’t Reasonable”

The Supreme Court just heard oral arguments in a case, Holt v. Hobbs, that’s all about a Muslim inmate from Arkansas, Gregory H. Holt, who wants to grow a half-inch beard in accordance with his beliefs.

The problem is that Arkansas happen to be one of the only states that forbids beards of any length for security reasons. Hence, the legal battle. (For the record, more than 40 states allow prisoners to have half-inch beards and most allow even longer ones.)

During oral arguments last week, Justice Antonin Scalia asked a fair question about how serious this religious commandment really was. After all, if Holt’s beliefs required him to have a full beard (which they do), then wouldn’t permitting him to have a half-inch beard still violate his faith?

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Christians Just Found a Way to Ruin Rap Battles…

I know Christian culture is famous for taking mainstream pop culture, “sanitizing” it with a few too many doses of Jesus, and making all of us cringe when we experience the byproduct… but I didn’t realize they could make rap battles uncool, too:



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Air Force Medical Commander’s Pro-Christianity Article Removed From National Guard Newsletter, So Cue the Outrage

The Stinger is an Air Force-funded publication for members of the 180th Fighter Wing in the Ohio Air National Guard.

Which is why this essay by Colonel Florencio Marquinez of the Fighter Wing’s Medical Group about how important Jesus is to him seemed extremely out of place in the September issue (since revised):



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Mark Driscoll Resigns from Mars Hill Church

According to Sarah Pulliam Bailey of Religion News Service, Pastor Mark Driscoll has (finally) resigned from Mars Hill Church:



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