Houston Mayor Annise Parker – the city’s first openly lesbian mayor – had filed two subpeonas calling for sermons of five Houston Pastors who have spoken out against the homosexual lifestyle. The first called specifically for sermons – it was withdrawn after public outcry, and another was filed calling for “public speeches”, which of course is what a sermon is.
This made national headlines and touched off several protests which included flooding Mayor Parker’s office with Bibles and various other religious articles. What was never given to the mayor, ironically, is the sermons of the five served pastors. Mayor Parker backed off the subpoenas on Wednesday.
The sermons that were being sought had to do with anything stated about the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO). Activists would like to see this issue placed on the ballot, in hopes that Houston voters would reject it, but the city rejected the signatures that were gathered for that purpose. The Pastors were involved in the effort to gather signatures needed to repeal the measure. One of the early objections to HERO was the guarantee — later dropped from a draft of the ordinance — that transgender people can use a mens’ or womens’ restroom, depending on the gender with which they identify.
While it may be somewhat farcical to object to one’s choice of restroom use, Americans have the right to object to whatever they deem important without being intimidated by the government for doing so. This is the main reason behind the outcry against the subpoenas, and the mayor’s subsequent withdraw of the subpoenas. Mayors still face the chore of being reelected after all, and if they are unpopular with the majority they won’t make it at the voter box.
One does come by a question though – why should the pastors object to their sermons being collected? It seems incongruous to make a public speech, and later object to someone studying that public speech. It would seem the most important job a pastor would have is to get the truth of God’s Word into as many hands as possible. No pastor in America today is facing death if his message is rejected, but the Apostle Paul was, and he welcomed the opportunity. He stood before governors such as Felix, and Acts 24 reports: “As Paul talked about righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, ‘That’s enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you.'” He stood before Festus, who succeeded Felix, and appealed to Caesar (taking a mission trip to Rome on Rome’s dollar), because Jesus himself said, “Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. (Matthew 10:17-19)”
If these pastors in Houston are truly preaching God’s Word, they should have no qualms about handing over their sermons, so that the word of God may be spread further. Since Mayor Parker opened the door by demanding these sermons, perhaps a continual stream of such sermons and articles from all over the country should continue to find their way to her office for the remainder of her term.