(Photo: AP Images / J. Michael Short, File)
John Hagee, the senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, has released a new statement clarifying that he opposes the proposed non-discrimination ordinance hailed by gay rights supporters, despite earlier reports.
"The San Antonio Express News has corrected their misleading headline and the erroneous assertion that I supported this city ordinance," Hagee said.
The news publication had reported that Hagee told congregants on Sunday that he "no longer opposes" the ordinance, but the Cornerstone pastor has now clarified that such an assertion is wrong.
Supporters of the controversial ordinance say that it is designed to protect the rights of LGBT people in San Antonio by making sure that they are not discriminated against. Those who oppose it, however, say that it might infringe on the rights of religious people who do not support homosexuality to express their views.
Certain language in the ordinance was recently changed, which Hagee said is a right step forward but that problems remain with the proposal, which is expected to go before the City Council on Sept. 5.
"After speaking with San Antonio City Councilman Bernal, it was explained to me that the portions of the proposed ordinance that were most offensive to freedom of speech and freedom of religion, with respect to people of faith being able to serve on the San Antonio City Council, were deleted," Hagee explained in the statement.
"This is a significant victory for people of faith who oppose the ordinance. I understand other concerns remain, and I encourage those who share these concerns to continue their efforts to ensure that this ordinance will in no way discriminate against people of faith."
Jeff Mateer, general counsel for the Liberty Institute, explained the consequences of the ordinance: "If you, for instance, oppose same-sex marriage, that's going to be interpreted as opposing someone based on sexual orientation."
Some notable officials, such as San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, have given their backing to the proposed law.
"To say that you agree with this ordinance is to say that you do not believe that someone who is gay or lesbian ought to be discriminated against in the same way that an African American or a Hispanic or a woman shouldn't be discriminated against," Castro argued in May.
Others, however, such as Janet Parshall of IN THE MARKET, a nationally syndicated radio program carried on the Moody Broadcasting Network, wrote in a CP Opinion piece that the proposed bill is "patently more discriminatory against Christians than anything I have ever seen before."
"The mounting animosity against those of us who believe not only in the traditional definition of marriage but the authority of Scripture has reached a feverish pitch with the introduction of a new ordinance being debated by a city council in Texas," Parshall wrote on Aug. 12.
"Consider what the ordinance is trying to do. If you believe that the Bible is right – that marriage should be one man and one woman – and if you believe that sexual activity outside of that God-given model is (here comes that politically incorrect word) sin – and you tell somebody that, you cannot hold office in San Antonio and the government of that city won't do business with you."