Texas Governor Signs Sermon Non-Disclosure Bill in a Church

In Texas, I think the GOP leadership wants to unite state and evangelical church.

In what might be a first, Governor Greg Abbott signed a bill into law inside a church. The law, effective immediately, allows clergy to refuse to turn over sermons to government entities via subpoena. The law says:

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
SECTION 1. Title 6, Civil Practice and Remedies Code, is amended by adding Chapter 150A to read as follows:
CHAPTER 150A. DISCOVERY BY GOVERNMENTAL UNIT
Sec. 150A.001. DEFINITIONS. In this chapter:
(1) “Governmental unit” has the meaning assigned by Section 101.001.
(2) “Religious organization” means an organization that qualifies as a religious organization under Section 11.20, Tax Code.
(3) “Religious worship” has the meaning assigned by Section 11.20, Tax Code.
Sec. 150A.002. SERMONS PRIVILEGED FROM DISCLOSURE TO GOVERNMENTAL UNIT. A governmental unit may not, in any civil action or other civil or administrative proceeding to which the governmental unit is a party, compel the production or disclosure of a written copy or audio or video recording of a sermon delivered by a religious leader during religious worship of a religious organization or compel the religious leader to testify regarding the sermon.

This law was promoted in response to a subpoena issued by the city of Houston in response to preachers advocating against a gay rights ordinance.

While the law will do the unusual thing of allowing preachers to keep sermons secret, it will also forbid subpoenas of any speeches by Imams which might be considered inflammatory.

The church signing was conducted in Grace Church with Steve Riggle as pastor. Riggle’s church is affiliated with Gateway Church in Southlake Texas. Riggle is on the board of trustees of The King’s University and has an honorary doctoral from the school which he passes off as an earned degree.

It is am amazing place we have come to when the state colludes with the church to make the church less transparent with regard to a pastor’s sermons.

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