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-Houston: Mayor Withdraw Subpoenas on Pastors

by Dr. D ~ October 29th, 2014


Mayor Annise Parker announced today that the city was withdrawing all the subpoenas served on 5 local Houston pastors.

Two weeks ago the mayor of the city of Houston,Texas  started a religious freedom nightmare scenario when she subpoenaed 5 local pastors demanding that they turn over all of their sermons that mentioned homosexuality or the city’s transgender bathroom ordinance. Following a national firestorm, the mayor revised the subpoenas to include only speeches that mentioned the ordinance and the mayor. The criticism justifiably continued unabated.

Today’s action followed several meetings between the mayor and local religious leaders. From the city’s official press release:

With local pastors standing with her, Mayor Annise Parker has told the City Legal Department to withdraw the subpoenas filed against five local pastors who have identified themselves as the leaders of the petition drive to repeal the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO).

“This is an issue that has weighed heavily on my mind for the last two weeks,” said Mayor Parker.  “Protecting the HERO from being repealed is important to Houston, but I also understand the concerns of the religious community regarding the subpoenas.  After two meetings yesterday, I decided that withdrawing the subpoenas is the right thing to do.  It addresses the concerns of ministers across the country who viewed the move as overreaching.  It is also the right move for our city.

<Read the entire presser>

Response: The transgender bathroom ordinance was a big enough threat to religious liberty to begin with but the subpoenas took it to another level entirely. It is great to see at least the subpoenas against the pastors dropped. This should have never happened in America in the first place. Now we can only hope that the ordinance itself will receive a direct vote of the people and that the fascistic actions of this mayor and city government against religious liberty will cease.

This whole episode has been a wake-up call for many Christians who assume that their freedoms are and will always be protected by the First Amendment.            *Top

-City Backs Off and Exempts Wedding Chapel Ministers

by Dr. D ~ October 28th, 2014


Initially city officials gave a couple who are ordained Christian ministers and owners of a wedding chapel a choice to marry same-sex couples or face potential fines and jail time. After help from the ADF (Alliance Defending Freedom) the couple has received an exemption for their wedding chapel. Here’s the story from Boise State Public Radio:

The city of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, said a for-profit wedding chapel owned by two ministers doesn’t have to perform same-sex marriages.  …

Initially, the city said its anti-discrimination law did apply to the Hitching Post, since it is a commercial business. Earlier this week, Coeur d’Alene city attorney Mike Gridley sent a letter to the Knapps’ attorneys at the Alliance Defending Freedom saying the Hitching Post would have to become a not-for-profit to be exempt.

But Gridley said after further review, he determined the ordinance doesn’t specify non-profit or for-profit.

“After we’ve looked at this some more, we have come to the conclusion they would be exempt from our ordinance because they are a religious corporation,” Gridley explained.

Court filings show the Hitching Post reorganized earlier this month as a “religious corporation.” In the paperwork, the owners describe their deeply held beliefs that marriage should be between one man and one woman.

<Read the whole article>

Response: The response of the city makes a lot of sense in light of the recent SCOTUS ruling in favor of Hobby Lobby. Even the ACLU attorney seems to support this resolution. The Knapps have set up their chapel now as a ‘for profit religious corporation.’ Depending on the laws in other states this may offer a new direction to go for other Christian business owners who are being forced to offer services that are against their religious convictions. Obviously the ADF attorneys helped them in this effort.

Meanwhile, gay activists apparently want to continue this battle and have lodged another complaint against the couple so this story may not be completely over.            *Top

-Response to Houston’s Demand of Pastor’s Sermon’s from ‘Bonhoeffer’ Author

by Dr. D ~ October 27th, 2014

The City of Houston has somewhat backed off of initial demands that key pastors in the city turn over sermons mentioning homosexuality but still are demanding any material that mentions the ‘transgender bathroom ordinance’ or the mayor.

Meanwhile the video above shows a poignant response from the author of ‘Bonheoffer.’ From the Blaze:

When Eric Metaxas, author of “Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy,” first read about the Houston city government subpoenaing the sermons of five church pastors, he said he couldn’t believe it.“This has to be a joke,” he told Fox News on Sunday about his initial reaction. “This cannot be happening in America.”

But once Metaxas got deeper into the subject, he said he knew “a bold red line” had been crossed. “If there was ever a time to throw the tea into the harbor, this is it,” Metaxas told Fox News. …

“It’s a shocking thing,” he said of the similarities to what’s happening in Houston, adding that “everyone in America should be freaking out.”

“If we tolerate this kind of abrogation of religious freedom in this nation, all of our liberties will be unraveled,” Metaxas continued. “It is that serious. America needs to wake up. The church, especially, needs to know that this is a huge trampling of something that the Founders said was at the heart of all of our liberties.”

Response: This is one issue that cannot be allowed to quietly pass from the scene without proper response and adjudication. This is a story that we will continue to monitor and update including any important responses to the situation. I deemed the response of author Metaxas to be particularly important because of his insights and understanding of what the German pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer went through in his refusal to bow down to the Nazi regime shortly before and during WWII.

The actions of  Mayor Annise Parker in this case are fascistic to say the least and should not be allowed to be minimalized or excused away. Our freedoms are far too important to allow government functionaries of any level or type to trample on them in any way or form without a fight. Religious freedoms in this generation are particularly under risk since the American culture is becoming more secular and religion holds an increasing lessor place in the lives of many Americans.             *Top

-California Mandated Abortion Coverage Includes Churches?

by Dr. D ~ October 24th, 2014


It started as a mandate that would force religious institutions and universities to include Insurance coverage for elective abortion. Now the state appears to be including churches in their new abortion mandate even if it is contrary to the stated beliefs of that religious organization? Here’s the story from the Blaze:

A recent regulatory change in California now requires all employer health plans in the state — including those offered by churches and faith-based organizations — to cover elective abortions …

The abortion policy immediately took effect August 22, with the government giving 90 additional days for the language in health care plans to officially change, according to state documents. …

<Read the whole article>

Response: This is even worse than I initially thought since the new mandate has no stated limits and state officials seem to be predisposed to force it on all religious institutions including churches. It doesn’t seem to matter that this would seem to be a clear violation of the First Amendment?

This is way beyond what the Obama administration attempted and failed to do with their HHS Contraceptive and Abortifacient Mandate. According to SCOTUS the First Amendment protects religious organization and institutions even religious business owners from violating their religious liberty and conscience by providing contraceptive or morning after pill coverage.

So California responds by dropping forced contraceptive coverage but still requires everyone including churches have to go one step worse and provide coverage for abortion? One would think that this would not stand but the crazy 9th Circuit will probably approve. Also one cannot depend that SCOTUS will even take this case or rule in a way similar to the HHS Mandate. The make-up of the court could be far different by the time this case is appealed past the circuit court.            *Top

-A Muslim Connection to the Spread of Ebola?

by Dr. D ~ October 21st, 2014


This is a story that the mainstream media refuses to touch but is common knowledge in Western Africa in the areas where Ebola is spreading exponentially. Muslim burial practices may be contributing to an unchecked spread of the disease.

Here’s the story from Investors Business Daily:

Washington and its media stenographers won’t tell you this, lest they look intolerant, but Islamic burial rituals are a key reason why health officials can’t contain the spread of the deadly disease in West Africa. …

When Muslims die, family members don’t turn to a funeral home or crematorium to take care of the body. In Islam, death is handled much differently.

Relatives personally wash the corpses of loved ones from head to toe. Often, several family members participate in this posthumous bathing ritual, known as Ghusl.

Before scrubbing the skin with soap and water, family members press down on the abdomen to excrete fluids still in the body. A mixture of camphor and water is used for a final washing. Then, family members dry off the body and shroud it in white linens.

Again, washing the bodies of the dead in this way is considered a collective duty for Muslims, especially in Muslim nations. Failure to do so is believed to leave the deceased "impure" and jeopardizes the faithful’s ascension into Paradise (unless he died in jihad; then no Ghusl is required).

<Read the whole article>

Response: The bodily fluids coming from the dead bodies of Ebola victims are known to be especially contagious with huge amounts of active virus. Red Cross and WHO (World Health Organization) officials have been trying to get Muslim Leaders to counsel their people to refrain from this traditional burial practice in the case of Ebola victims but they have largely been unsuccessful. As a result the disease in Muslim areas is spreading unchecked and taking whole families with it.

This whole issue has been hush-hush in the US but Saudi Arabia has recognized this unique threat coming from the Muslim community and has taken the extreme action of closing its borders to all Muslim pilgrims wanting to come to Mecca from the three most affected Western African countries- Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.            *Top

-City Gives Choice to Christian Ministers: Perform Same-Sex Weddings or Go to Jail

by Dr. D ~ October 20th, 2014


                                                                     (ADF Photos)

City officials are demanding that a couple who are ordained Christian ministers conduct same-sex weddings in their wedding chapel or face fines and jail time. From Alliance Defending Freedom(ADF):

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed a federal lawsuit and a motion for a temporary restraining order Friday to stop officials in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, from forcing two ordained Christian ministers to perform wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples.

City officials told Donald Knapp that he and his wife Evelyn, both ordained ministers who run Hitching Post Wedding Chapel, are required to perform such ceremonies or face months in jail and/or thousands of dollars in fines. The city claims its “non-discrimination” ordinance requires the Knapps to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies now that the courts have overridden Idaho’s voter-approved constitutional amendment that affirmed marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

<Read the whole article>

Response: This case is particularly interesting since it involves not only a Christian business but two ordained ministers. Here is what an ADF attorney has to say about it:

“The government should not force ordained ministers to act contrary to their faith under threat of jail time and criminal fines,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “Many have denied that pastors would ever be forced to perform ceremonies that are completely at odds with their faith, but that’s what is happening here – and it’s happened this quickly. The city is on seriously flawed legal ground, and our lawsuit intends to ensure that this couple’s freedom to adhere to their own faith as pastors is protected just as the First Amendment intended.” …

“The government exists to protect and respect our freedoms, not attack them.The city cannot erase these fundamental freedoms and replace them with government coercion and intolerance.”

It should be noted that most denominations, churches , and ordaining bodies in the USA do not allow their members to conduct same-sex ceremonies. The government in this case is not only demanding that this couple violate their own religious beliefs but probably also the rules and restrictions of their church or denomination regarding licensed  ordained ministry.             *Top

HT: The Blaze

-Houston Backs Down On Subpoenas for Pastors’ Sermons? Sort of But Not Quite

by Dr. D ~ October 16th, 2014
English: Annise Parker, city controller of Hou...

                     (Mayor Annise Parker: Wikipedia)

After a firestorm of criticism across the entire country, yesterday Houston’s activist mayor seemingly backed away from subpoenas demanding Pastor’s sermons on a variety of subjects including homosexuality and LGBT issues.

The update initially sounded good but in reality the demands from the pastors have merely been refocused to only include any communication or sermons specifically mentioning the mayor and the transgender ‘bathroom ordinance.’

Here’s the story from the Washington Times:

After calling church sermons “fair game” for subpoena, Houston Mayor Annise Parker backed down Wednesday from the city’s effort to force local pastors to turn over speeches and papers related to a hotly contested transgender rights ordinance. …

The pastors and their allies called the city’s broad demand a threat to religious freedom and proof that gay and transgender rights bills can be used as weapons to demonize Christianity. …

Ms. Parker’s office initially doubled down in the face of such criticism but issued a statement late Wednesday saying the mayor “agrees with those who are concerned about the city legal department’s subpoenas for pastors’ sermons.” …

The statement says the city will “move to narrow the scope during an upcoming court hearing” and that city attorney David Feldman “says the focus should be only on communications related to the petitions to overturn the ordinance.” …

<Read the whole article>

Response: So the subpoenas are still active but the focus has been narrowed to cover any and all communications and sermons that mention the mayor and the transgender bathroom ordinance. Much better than the initial ‘witch hunt’ including all mention of homosexuality but still a questionable abuse of government power against pastors who oppose the bill because of the possible abuses of religious liberty inherent within the provision.

We agree with the ADF attorney who characterized the mayor’s supposed turnaround and the narrowing of the subpoena’s focus as being “wholly inadequate.”             *Top