Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said pastors from across the United States should send "thousands and thousands" of Bibles and sermons to the Houston mayor who demanded pastors turn over their sermons to the government due to their objection to an LGBT discrimination city ordinance.
"I hope she gets thousands and thousands of sermons and Bibles," Huckabee said on his Fox News show Saturday, referring to Mayor Annise D. Parker.
"It ought to make you mad that the mayor thinks she can turn in her pastors. And so I got an idea," Huckabee explained. "If she wants a sermon, here is my suggestion. I would like to ask every pastor in America, not only the ones in Houston, to send her your sermons and go ahead. Obviously she could use a few. And everybody watching the show ought to send her a Bible."
Huckabee, an ordained Southern Baptist minister, also criticized attempts to "silence the voices and prevent the votes of people." He suggested that Christians are being targeted because they refuse to bow down to "intolerant desperates ... and false gods of hate and religious bigotry."
The subpoenas were issued by Houston's city attorney in response to a lawsuit filed by opponents of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance that allow men and women who identify as transgender or opposite sex to use the facilities, such as restrooms, of their choice.
The subpoenaed sermons incident derived from months of debate over the controversial ordinance.
The Houston City Council approved the ordinance, known as HERO, in a vote of 11 to 6 in May. Parker was a strong proponent of the measure. It amended Chapters 2, 15 and 17 of Houston's Code of Ordinances, prohibiting discrimination in public facilities and private employment on the basis of "protected characteristics."
The list of protected characteristics include race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, sex, familial and marital status, military status, disability, religion, genetic information, pregnancy, sexual orientation and gender identity.
Parker later denied she knew about the city's attempt to subpoena the sermons and correspondence of five pastors. But one of those pastors, Dave Welch, who is the executive director of the Houston area U.S. Pastor Council, told The Christian Post earlier that the mayor herself initiated the action in response to a legal battle over the ordinance.
"I support the right of the clergy to say whatever they want to say, even if I disagree with them," Parker said in a statement Friday. "This is not about what they may be preaching from the pulpit. It is about proving that the petition gathering process organized by these pastors did not meet the requirements of the city charter."
Houston attorney David Feldman filed a motion Friday to remove the reference to sermons from the original subpoenas.
"The city must respect the First Amendment and abandon its illegitimate mission to invade the private communications of pastors for the purpose of strong-arming them into silence in a lawsuit that concerns nothing more than the authenticity of citizen petitions," Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel Erik Stanley said in a statement.