Houston is home to one of NASA's most sophisticated space centers -- but even it would have trouble finding signs of intelligence in the local Mayor's office. The city's highest official is blowing past the First Amendment at warp speed -- and lighting a political powder keg in the process.
After four years of forcing her extreme agenda on the city, Mayor Annise Parker may have finally picked a fight she's bound to regret. Five months after bullying her way into a Houston-wide "bathroom bill," Parker is furious that the city's voters won't roll over and accept it. Instead, America's fourth-largest city fought back, gathering three times the number of signatures needed to put the issue on the ballot. Furious with local pastors for leading the pushback, Parker decided to get her revenge by ordering a Soviet-style crackdown on area churches.
In a story that's spreading like wildfire, the Mayor had the nerve to subpoena pastors for their sermons, text messages, photographs, electronic files, calendars, and emails -- "all communications with members of your congregation" on topics like homosexuality and gender identity. If she thought her religious "inquisition" would scare pastors, she's got another thing coming. Local Christians are more outraged than ever, igniting a firestorm that could awaken a sleeping giant in churches from coast to coast. "We're not intimidated at all," said Rev. Dave Welch. "We're not going to yield our First Amendment rights," he warned -- even if it ends in fines, confinement, or both. more >>
Christians across the nation are mobilizing to defend a group of Houston pastors who were ordered by the city to turn over any sermons dealing with homosexuality, gender identity issues or Houston mayor. Their message is simple – Don't Mess with Texas Preachers.
Dave Welch, the executive director of the Texas Pastor Council, is one of the five ministers who received a subpoena. He said he will not be intimidated by Annise Parker, who is the city's first openly lesbian mayor, nor will he comply with the city's demands.
"My answer to that is – bring it on," he said. more >>
The story sounds like something you'd read on a crazed e-mail forward — the city of Houston demands to see the contents of pastors' sermons on the topic of homosexuality, gender identity, and . . . restroom access. In fact, when I first heard the story from a parent at my kids' school, I didn't believe it.
But, yes, it's true. In fact, the reality is even worse than the reports. Houston — as part of its litigation strategy opposing a voter lawsuit filed after the city rejected voter petitions to repeal a law that allows members of the opposite sex into bathrooms — has issued subpoenas that don't just demand pastors' sermons on the topics of "equal rights, civil rights, homosexuality, or gender identity," (and, of course, "restroom access"), they also demand all documents including "emails, instant messages, and text messages" on those same topics.
So, if a pastor is engaged in a theological discussion with a fellow pastor on the covered topics, that will have to be produced. If a pastor texts a friend his position on "restroom access," that has to be produced. more >>
A man who bilked congregants of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Georgia out of millions of dollars has plead guilty in federal court.
Ephren Taylor, who reportedly scammed investors via his "Building Wealth Tour," recently made the plea in Atlanta.
U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said in a statement published by the Atlanta Daily World on Tuesday that the plea brings "a measure of justice" to Taylor's victims. more >>
A Shasta County, California, atheist who charged that his civil rights were violated when he was sent back to prison for protesting a religious drug-treatment program while on parole was recently awarded nearly $2 million in a court settlement for his troubles.
According to a Record Searchlight report, the atheist, Barry Hazle Jr., 46, and his attorney, John G. Heller, announced the settlement during a press conference Tuesday morning.
The United States Supreme Court has issued an order allowing 13 abortion clinics in Texas to stay open, superseding a state law that requires the closure of clinics that fail to meet basic health and safety standards.
In a six to three decision, the order was given Tuesday as a lawsuit against the state's abortion clinic regulations continues to go through the legal system.
Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. dissented from the five-sentence order, reported Adam Liptak of the New York Times. more >>