Those of you who are familiar with this blog know that I’m not a fan of religion. Throughout world history religion has caused a lot more harm to human civilization than good. I would, however, tend to be a lot less critical of it if only the religious folks would stop trying, with the assistance of government, to impose their superstitions upon everyone. That is by far what causes most of the harm.
I am a big fan of the Bill of Rights – especially the First Amendment. Religious Americans have a fundamental First Amendment constitutional right to freely exercise their religion. Non-religious Americans enjoy a fundamental First Amendment constitutional right of freedom from government established religion. The First Amendment protects everyone’s right to believe and express our beliefs as we choose without government interference.
That’s why I’m particularly appalled and outraged over the fact that a Democratic Mayor and city officials in Houston Texas are demanding and subpoenaing church pastors to turn over their sermons, notes and communications with church members to the government so that the city can determine which of them are preaching critically of city government policies.
The Houston city council passed the so-called “Bathroom Bill” allowing males and females the right to use each other’s public restrooms. Concerned citizens responded by collecting an overwhelming number of signatures to put a repeal of the law on the ballot.
The Mayor and city council defied and rejected lawful certification of the referendum petition. Supporters of the referendum filed a lawsuit. The city responded by subpoenaing area church pastors and demanding to see what they’ve been preaching from the pulpit about the controversy, as well as about homosexuality, gender identity, and the Mayor, who is openly gay. Ministers failing to comply are being threatened with punishment for contempt of court.
“The city council and its attorneys are engaging in an inquisition designed to stifle any critique of its actions.” claim attorneys for Alliance Defending Freedom, a religious liberty law firm.
“The state is breaching the wall of separation between church and state,” declared Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council. ‘Pastors need to step forward and challenge this across the country. I’d like to see literally thousands of pastors after they read this story begin to challenge government authorities – to dare them to come into their churches and demand their sermons.” The actions by Houston’s mayor are “obscene” and “should not be tolerated” Perkins added. “This is a shot across the bow of the church.”
Ironically, this is the very same Tony Perkins who constantly demands that the U.S. government tear down the wall of separation between church and state. He and his followers want a government God. But when it comes to his and their First Amendment rights he sings a different tune.
Perkins and the pastor’s are hopeless hypocrites for sure, but in this instance they’re absolutely right. The City of Huston and the Mayor are clearly violating their First Amendment constitutional rights. Their actions won’t stand in the face of the law… in defense of religion.