Houston Mayor Rescinds Sermon Subpoenas

After igniting a national debate over religious freedom, the separation of church and state and LGBT rights, Houston mayor Annise Parker has told the city to rescind the sermon subpoenas issued to five local pastors. The decision came on the heels of a meeting Mayor Parker held with the pastors in question, along with many other religious leaders who said that subpoenaing sermons was a breach of their constitutional rights. Mayor Parker said that she believes, following some editing changes to the initial subpoenas, that she was within her legal rights, but she didn’t “want to have a national debate on freedom of religion when my purpose is to defend … a city ordinance.”

Mayor Parker may be convinced of the justness of her cause, but few people agreed with her. Everyone from Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission President Russell Moore to Washington Post free speech columnist Eugene Volokh said the subpoenas were, at best, an overreach. Even the generally pro-LGBT rights platform Slate called the subpoenas “incredibly stupid, instantly regrettable, and utterly unnecessary” …

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