Friday, October 24, 2014
Thursday, October 23, 2014
Wait. Did I say case? Yeah, there’s a court case that those subpoenas relate to. It’s not like the mayor’s attorneys did this on a whim or to try to nail pastors for hate speech or anything like that. It all starts back in May with the passing of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, also known as HERO. This ordinance extends already existing federal anti-discrimination legislation to cover sexual orientation and gender identity. After HERO passed, those who opposed it began to collect signatures to put a repeal measure on the ballot. On July 3rd “more than 50,000” signatures were delivered to the city of Houston. A month later, the city determined those who opposed HERO were "2,000 valid signatures short of the 17,269-signature threshold" and that "most of the pages contained mistakes that invalidated the entire page of signatures." So out of an alleged more than 50,000, only 15,000 of them were valid.
On August 7th, HERO was put on hold after opponents of it filed suit against the city. These opponents were aided by a conservative Christian advocacy group that focused on opposing abortion and same-sex marriage. About a month later was when the city subpoenaed sermons given by local pastors who not only opposed HERO, but were also connected to the conservative Christian activists who were suing the city.
Many of the pastors whose sermons were subpoenaed were actively involved with collecting signatures. The reason for the subpoena was to determine what instructions were given out in regards to collecting signatures. If the sermons were being used for organizing politics, particularly the politics of this case, then those sermons are relevant to the court case that these pastors were already involved with in the first place.
See what happens when you mix religion with politics? You ride a fine line between the separation of church and state and make it far too easy for either side to cross that line. I do feel that the city’s attorneys on this case used a poor choice of words on the subpoenas. Made it far too easy for Christian conservatives to do what they do best, twist it into something it isn’t. I also feel that City Attorney Feldman should have been more closely involved with this case. However, this could have been avoided if the pastors were not so directly involved. America is not a theocracy, stop trying to make it one. It’s shit like this that causes people like me to get the idea that churches should be taxed, well this and multi-billion dollar corporate mega-churches. Preaching politics from the pulpit is a bad idea. Pastors collecting signatures for a petition is an even worse idea in my opinion. I can’t help but wonder how many people signed that petition just because their pastor told them to and had no idea what they were signing.
I’m not saying that pastors should have nothing to do with the political process, but the more you bring your church into government, the wider you open your door for the government to come in to your church.