Pastor Khanh Huynh nearly lost his life fleeing Vietnam in search of religious liberty. After being subpoenaed by the city of Houston for opposing the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, he wonders whether he will have to flee again to maintain that liberty.
“The freedom of speech and freedom of religion is beginning to be invaded and violated,” Huynh, pastor of Houston’s Vietnamese Baptist Church, told Baptist Press. “I feel like this is a recurrence of what I knew and experienced in Vietnam … Some days I wake up and I feel like, ‘Do I have to take my family, my children to another country?’ because this is what we fled Vietnam for.”
Huynh –- who immigrated to the U.S. from communist Vietnam in 1979 — is one of five Houston pastors who were subpoenaed for sermons and other private correspondence regarding their opposition to the ordinance known as HERO among its supporters. The subpoenas were part of the city’s effort to defend itself against a lawsuit challenging its disqualification of a petition drive to vote on the ordinance, which has added “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to Houston’s list of protected classifications such as race, religion, sex and disability.
Mayor Annise Parker announced Oct. 29 that the subpoenas would be dropped, but on Oct. 31 Huynh said he had not received any official notice from the city or a court that they had been withdrawn.
Huynh is scheduled to be one of the speakers at the “I Stand Sunday” simulcast Nov. 2 hosted by the Family Research Council and other partners.
At a city council meeting and a separate meeting with Houston’s city attorney, Huynh voiced his concern that the ordinance will violate the religious freedom of business owners and others who disagree with its expanded classifications. He also expressed concern that it will make women and children vulnerable to sexual predators by permitting people to use public restrooms of the gender they identify with rather than those of their natural gender.
Huynh received his subpoena by certified mail at the church office and said he feels unfairly targeted since other pastors were more vocal in their opposition.
“Maybe it’s because I’m a minority [as is] the church, and they think that they can threaten me or retaliate and I’ll have no way to fight back,” Huynh, whose church cooperates with the Baptist General Convention of Texas, said. “But I’m so grateful that pastors and leaders in America have voiced an outcry and given help.”
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SOURCE: Baptist Press