Houston pastors and conservative activists from across the nation came together on Sunday evening for “I Stand Sunday” — an event designed to protest government infringement on religious liberty which was brought to the fore by the City of Houston’s now rescinded subpoena of pastors’ sermons and other communication. The event which was organized by the Family Research Council was held at Grace Church in Houston, TX. It was simulcast to numerous other host churches and available for live viewing online.
The pastors who received the subpoenas, dubbed the “Houston 5”, spoke first. The Houston 5 are: Steve Riggle, pastor of Grace Church; Hernan Castaño, pastor of Iglesias Rios De Aceite; Khanh Huynh, pastor of Vietnamese Baptist Church; David Welch, founder of the Houston Area Pastors Council; and Magda Hermida, leader of Magda Hermida Ministries. Other pastors who were identified were: Willie Davis, pastor of MacGregor Palm Community Baptist Church, and F.N. Williams Sr., pastor of Antioch Missionary Baptist Church. Pastor Max Miller of Mount Hebron Missionary Baptist Church was unable to attend the event. According to the Houston Chronicle, the city’s subpoenas sought “all speeches, presentations, or sermons related to HERO, the Petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity prepared by, delivered by, revised by, approved by, or in the possession” of these pastors. The repeated message of the Houston 5 to the city’s leadership was to “let the people vote” on Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance which, among other things, would allow “gender-confused” individuals to use the public restroom of the gender they identify with regardless of their actual gender.
Dr. Ed Young Sr. of Houston’s Second Baptist Church said the gathering was intended to send a message to the government: “Don’t mess with the pulpits of America.” He went on to say, ‘We’re here as worshipers of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. We are a people who believe in prayer and redemption. The answer to any question is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.’
Young introduced Dr. Ronnie Floyd, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention, who said the church needed to ‘repent of our own sin and apathy. We need to leave our lukewarm status. It is time for us to wake up from our slumber.’ He added, ‘Our greatest problem is not in the White House or the statehouse. It is in the church house of Jesus Christ. The greatest need in America is for the church to be revived!’
Floyd called the audience to its knees and led in prayer, saying, ‘God can do in a moment what all of us can’t do in a lifetime.’
Family Research Council president, Tony Perkins, directed the event, next introducing Governor Mike Huckabee. Huckabee said the problem with America is that a lot of people in the church have refused to get involved in the political process. “We are here today because Christians have not prayed, have not become informed, and have not registered to vote. A lot of people in our churches just don’t want to get involved.” He added, “We cannot blame the people who don’t love God… We are beginning to reap what we have sown.”
Todd Starnes, a Fox News commentator, highlighted other instances where religious freedom was violated. He shared the story of a high school valedictorian who was told that he couldn’t talk about God, Jesus, or the Bible in his graduation speech.
Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty read from Paul’s letter to the Philippians and encouraged attendees by pointing out that those who preach the Gospel and stand for Biblical principles such as traditional marriage between a man and a woman will also suffer for Jesus Christ. His son, Alan Robertson, also spoke and was followed by David and Jason Benham who lost a television show deal with HGTV because of their stand against homosexuality. Dr. Rick Scarborough of Vision of America said, “There comes a time when not only do we need to pray, but we need to act. ” He called on all pastors to stand up and led the audience in praying for pastors to stand strong.
Recording artist, Moriah Peters, closed out the event with the song “Stand Strong” from her latest album Brave.