City of Houston demands pastors turn over sermons

The city of Houston has issued subpoenas demanding a group of pastors turn over any sermons dealing with homosexuality, gender identity or Annise Parker, the city’s first openly lesbian mayor. And those ministers who fail to comply could be held in contempt of court.

“The city’s subpoena of sermons and other pastoral communications is both needless and unprecedented,” Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Christina Holcomb said in a statement. “The city council and its attorneys are engaging in an inquisition designed to stifle any critique of its actions.”

Given the ethnic make-up of Houston, isn’t that racist by progressive standards?

Needs some balance. From the Houston Chronicle:

"To that end, Feldman said the pastors made their sermons relevant to the case by using the pulpit to do political organizing. That included encouraging congregation members to sign petitions and help gather signatures for equal rights ordinance opponents, who largely take issue with the rights extended to gay and transgender residents under the ordinance.

Feldman pointed to a training video that surfaced this summer showing Welch, of the Houston Area Pastor Council, explaining the rules signature gatherers needed to follow during a church presentation. With aPowerPoint presentation behind him, Welch tells the audience the city’s stringent repeal referendum process “makes it more challenging for us” to qualify for the ballot.

Equal rights ordinance supporters said the video proved the signature gatherers were aware of the rules but flouted them anyway.

“If someone is speaking from the pulpit and it’s political speech then it’s not going to be protected,” Feldman said."

“If someone is speaking from the pulpit and it’s political speech then it’s not going to be protected,” Feldman said."

Where was this when Jeremiah Wright was speaking? How about clergy who talk about voting for politicians who allegedly help the poor or preach about how they agree with so-called gay “marriage”?

Or this just another American left-wing double standard?

Forbidding them from politicizing verse asking them to send their sermons in for review is different…

You’re comparing apples and oranges. The pastors in this case are suing the government to reinstate a petition in which over half the signatures their congregations gathered are invalid. The purpose of the subpoenas is to prove that they knew the rules when they gathered the signatures and submitted the petition. So, the pastors have no legal ground stand on and may have actually committed a crime. Sorry, but you can’t commit a crime then hide behind the pulpit. Anyway, I don’t see how the pastors have any legal ground to stand on in this case. Their legal argument basically amounts to ‘no take backsies.’

Subpoenas have been issued to a group of pastors to turn over sermons dealing with homosexuality, gender identity or the gay mayor of Houston.

First the IRS, now this! I couldn’t believe it when I read this.

I just posted a thread on the same topic. Didn’t know there was this one. I live in California, and would expext that sort of news out here. What happened to Texas?

Maybe the threads can be combined.

This is so outrageous. I hope they find a way to oust her and suit her for this. It’s basicalky tyranny/treason

In what fairy land is it a crime to submit a petition…valid signatures or not.

How ludicrous…also they are hiding the petitions because they likely disqualified most signatures arbitrarily.

The Pastors are not involved in the suit.Why is the city so afraid to let the people vote on this?

All speech is protected. Political speech from the pulpit is legal. The church could lose its tax exemption, but they are free to be as political as they want.

Oh America, what have you done to your soul! Your friends weep for you.

Their speech isn’t being criminalized but this has got to be the first time I’ve ever heard a pastor say that they don’t want people to know the content of their sermons.

Do the people of Houston want to put it to a vote? The fact they couldn’t get enough valid signatures indicates the answer is no.

I know!
I just read this an hour or so and ago and could not believe this!!!
What in the world is going on that a thing like this would happen?
Almost sounds like Rome attempting to conquer the Jews in 70 AD.

It is outrageous to ask church pastors to submit their sermons to the government. I can’t imagine any Catholic pastor agreeing to this. In fact I doubt that most priests keep copies of their sermons. Many speak extemporaneously. Perhaps the government will want to screen sermons ahead of time. This is a violation of religious liberty, which seems to be the forgotten liberty. But it is in the first amendment. Even Thomas Jefferson would be outraged.

They had 50,000 signatures.They only needed 17,000 The city arbitrarily claimed they were invalid which is what the lawsuit is all about.

Their sermons, which are public speech, are evidence. There is no violation of religious liberty here.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit