City of Houston Subpoenas Sermons that Address Homosexuality

City of Houston Subpoenas Sermons that Address Homosexuality

A group of pastors in Houston have been ordered to turn their sermons that address homosexuality over to the city or be held in contempt of the court. Sermons that mention gender identity or Annise Parker, Houston’s first openly gay mayor, have also been subpoenaed. 

Five Houston pastors have filed suit in Harris County court, arguing that the subpoenas are “overbroad, unduly burdensome, harassing and vexatious.” Attorneys from Alliance Defending Freedom are representing the pastors in the case. 

Attorney Christina Holcomb said, “The city’s subpoena of sermons and other pastoral communications is both needless and unprecedented. The city council and its attorneys are engaging in an inquisition designed to stifle any critique of its actions.”

She continued, “Political and social commentary is not a crime. It is protected by the First Amendment.”

The pastors and their attorneys believe that Houston’s demands, which are under the city’s new non-discrimination ordinance, are really an attempt to “out” the pastors as anti-gay. 

Steve Riggle, senior pastor of Grace Community Church, is one of the pastors served with a subpoena. 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.”

Publication date: October 15, 2014