The firestorm that erupted over the city of Houston’s legal demand that five pastors turn over to the government the contents of their sermons was intense and sustained. Cries of religious intimidation, and even religious persecution, were raised by concerned Christians across Texas and around the country.
Still, when she announced on Wednesday that the city would withdraw the subpoenas issued to those targeted pastors, Houston Mayor Annise Parker said the prolonged push-back against the legal demands made by her administration was not the reason for her withdrawal of those subpoenas.
According to the Houston Chronicle, the mayor, who is openly gay and a passionate advocate for expanded gay rights, said the abrupt action was simply in the best interest of Houston.
“I didn’t do this to satisfy them,” Parker said of critics. “I did it because it was not serving Houston.”
Many saw the subpoenas as a veiled attempt to intimidate and silence critics of the mayor and her outspoken support for a gay-rights ordinance, the so-called “Bathroom Bill.” In the wake of those subpoenas, the five targeted pastors were anything but intimidated.
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Ironically, Mayor Parker’s action in withdrawing the legal demand also failed to silence pastors such as Steve Riggle of Houston’s Grace Community Church.
“If the mayor thought the subpoenas were wrong she would have pulled them immediately, not waited until she was forced to by national outrage.”
Houston’s demand that the pastors turn over the contents of their sermons and other church communications was sharply criticized by Senator Ted Cruz as well as Texas Attorney general Greg Abbott, who is running for governor.
It’s interesting to note the timing of the city’s backpedaling on the controversial legal challenge, as a massive rally in defense of religious freedom is planned for this coming Sunday in Houston.
As Western Journalism has reported, a number of high-profile Christian conservatives are scheduled to attend, including “Duck Dynasty” star and Robertson family patriarch Phil Robertson.
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Photo credit: Ed Schipul (Flickr)
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