5 Things You Should Know About the Houston Sermon Subpoena Scandal

5 Things You Should Know About the Houston Sermon Subpoena Scandal

Feeling confused about the Houston sermon subpoena scandal? Here are answers to five questions you may have.

Q: What happened?

A: In May, Houston city government passed the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) to ban discrimination based upon sexual orientation or gender identity. After passage, opponents began collecting signatures to add a ballot measure to repeal the new law.

In July, those opponents delivered over 50,000 signatures, well above the 17,269 that were needed, to add the question to the next election ballot. The city secretary approved the signatures, but that decision was later overruled by the mayor and city attorney, who decided that about 35,000 of the signatures were invalid.

The petition organizers then sued the city, arguing that the signatures were valid. As part of the process used to collect evidence for their case, the city, represented by attorneys working pro-bono, subpoenaed communications, including sermon notes and email, from five area pastors related to “HERO, the Petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity.” The pastors were not involved in the lawsuit but were involved in encouraging people to sign the petition.

Q: Why did it happen?

A: It depends on who you ask.

Those involved in the lawsuit and their supporters say the purpose of the subpoenas was to send a message to social conservatives that they should stay silent on political issues or they will be harassed by government forces, much like the Internal Revenue Service harassed conservative groups ahead of the 2012 election.

Mayor Annise Parker said this was simply a case of overly-exuberant lawyers who went too far in their search for information, and if she had seen the subpoenas ahead of time, she would not have approved them.

The Christian Post has spoken to sources familiar with the ongoing dispute who believe that Parker is not telling the truth and that she personally directed the subpoenas. They point to this tweet that she initially posted before the story became more controversial and she backed off: “If the 5 pastors used pulpits for politics, their sermons are fair game. Were instructions given on filling out anti-HERO petition?-A.” (Her Twitter account notes that all tweets that are directly from her are signed “-A.”)

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Source: Christian Post | NAPP NAZWORTH

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