News, Persecution, Religious
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Is the City of Houston trying to bully and intimidate pastors into silence?


A dark day for Christians in Houston, Texas Photo: Houston City Hall digital-dreams | Foter | CC BY-NC-SA

Dark days for Christians in Houston, Texas  Photo Houston City Hall: digital-dreams | Foter | CC BY-NC-SA

[by Dean Smith] We expect this type of behavior in China or Iran, but to have it happen in the U.S. is beyond comprehension. Foxnews commentator Todd Starnes recently exposed the abuse of Christians taking place in America.

The City of Houston has gone to court demanding several pastors turn over all sermons, notes and any communications to church members related to issues regarding gender identity, homosexuality and city mayor Annise Parker. If the pastors do not obey this order, they could be held in contempt and jailed or fined.

Parker is Houston’s first openly lesbian mayor.

The city’s demand stems back to a law it passed in June called the “bathroom bill” which would allow men or women to use bathroom and shower facilities of the opposite sex. The law would allow trans-gender people to use public facilities of their choice.

Critics say it opens the doors for sexual predators to use these facilities. And according to reports, there have already been allegations of this type of activity in cities that have passed a similar law.

After city council passed the bill, the citizens of Houston organized a petition demanding council either overturn the law or put it to a binding city-wide referendum. The petition needed 17,269 signatures to force the city to act. The organizers believed they easily surpassed that amount bringing in over 50,000 names.

As with any petition drive, there are always questionable signatures and that is why organizers often collect more names than needed, so once the disqualified are removed, there are still enough signatures. With nearly triple the number required, organizers believed had met the threshold.

In August, Houston city council disqualified the petition citing “irregularities.”

So organizers launched a lawsuit against the city demanding it obey the referendum law.

What is odd is that the pastors who the city subpoenaed were not even part of this lawsuit against the city, though they participated (along with 400 churches) in the petition drive itself. Many look at the city’s lawsuit against the pastors as an attempt to bully and intimidate them into silence.

The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is an American-based organization defending Christian freedom in America. It has taken the case of five Houston pastors who were included in the city’s subpoena. ADF described the city’s subpoenas as “overbroad, unduly burdensome, harassing and vexatious.” You can read ADF’s submission to squash the city’s subpoena against the pastors here.

ADF spokesman Christina Holcomb said:

“The city council and its attorneys are engaging an inquisition designed to stifle any critique of its actions. Political and social commentary is not a crime. It is protected by the first amendment.”

One of the pastors being defended by ADF is the senior Pastor of Grace Community Church, Steve Riggle. In an interview with Todd Starnes, he said:

“This is an attempt to chill pastors from speaking to the cultural issues of the day. The mayor would like to silence our voice. She’s a bully.

Dealing with the fear and intimidation

These are interesting days for Christians. Whether it is believers facing death in the Middle East for their faith or pastors facing fines or imprisonment in the US for their beliefs, there has been an overt attack on Christians around the world to intimidate and silence.

In the book of Revelation it says of the end-time believer:

And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death. (Revelation 12:11 NASV)

These believers were victorious, because they did not fear death. This lack of fear is the only way to stand up to persecution.

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6 Comments

  1. Wow seems like a big trial for the pastors in Houston. I’ve been there a couple of times and visited some churches… I love the city and the people.

    Like

  2. Pingback: Pakistani woman sentenced to hanging for blasphemy « OpentheWord.org

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