Although much has been reported regarding the ethics and legality behind the city of Houston's subpoena of five Houston-area pastors that had asked them to turn over all of their sermons that address homosexuality, gender identity, and the city's first openly-lesbian mayor, little attention has been given to who those five pastors actually are and the ministries they operate.
Although those five pastors, Steve Riggle, David Welch, Hernan Castaño, Khanh Huynh and Magda Hermida, were not technically parties of the lawsuit against the city's new equal rights ordinance that sparked the need for the subpoenas, they all participated in the coalition of 400 Houston area churches that stood in disapproval of the ordinance, which allows transgendered individuals to use public restrooms of the opposite gender.
Steve Riggle more >>
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal issued an executive order on Monday calling for the immediate revision of the state's rules that determine the eligibility of rape and sexual assault victims looking for state-compensation for medical charges directly relating to their assaults. Jindal called for an end to double victimization of Louisiana rape victims who are often billed thousands of dollars from hospitals for health exams and tests.
Jindal issued his orders in the hours following a tense meeting of Louisiana state lawmakers and state health officials on Monday that addressed the state's Victims Reparations Fund. The governor's orders demand that the Louisiana Commission on Law Enforcement reconstruct its rules to better protect sexual assault victims. The state currently requires conditional circumstances for victims to qualify for medical cost compensation through the fund, which prevents many victims from being eligible to receive the funding, leaving them with large personal debts.
"We should not be victimizing people twice with hefty bills or uncomfortable investigations," Jindal's spokesperson Shannon Bates said. "Sexual assault is a heinous crime that causes a tremendous amount of suffering and we want to do everything we can to protect the victims of these terrible acts." more >>
The recently launched #HoustonWeHaveAProblem Twitter campaign and petition that supports the Houston pastors who were subpoenaed to turn over their sermons dealing with topics on homosexuality, gender identity and the city's first lesbian mayor, Annise Parker, has reached 10,000 signatures.
The initiative launched by Faith Driven Consumer was initially blocked by the social media platform, but once the block was removed, the campaign was able to flourish tremendously.
"Thousands of concerned citizens are signing up in support of this important cause — harnessing the power of social media and keeping the pressure on Houston's governmental leaders. Faith Driven Consumers and people of conscience across the nation — including leaders at the local, state and national levels — are joining the call for the mayor and city officials to unequivocally reverse course and end their harassment of five respected area pastors and ultimately Christians throughout Houston," said Chris Stone, founder of Faith Driven Consumer. "We will continue to rally greater levels of grassroots support until tolerance and equality for people of faith are restored in the nation's fourth largest city." more >>
It started when Fox News broke the explosive story: "The city of Houston has issued subpoenas demanding a group of pastors turn over any sermons dealing with homosexuality, or gender identity. And those ministers who fail to comply could be held in contempt of court."
The Houston Chronicle reported it began with Houston's new non-discrimination ordinance driven by Annise Parker, Houston's first openly lesbian mayor and approved by the city council in June.
A group of Houston pastors opposing the ordinance launched a petition drive that generated more than 50,000 signatures – far more than the 17,269 needed to put a referendum on the ballot. But in a controversial turn the city unexpectedly tossed out the petition in August over alleged "irregularities." The opponents of the non-discrimination bill (which originally included among other things that men could use women's restrooms and visa-versa – but that point was pulled early over the criticism) filed a lawsuit, and the city attorney responded by issuing the subpoenas against the pastors. more >>
Former leaders from Seattle-based Mars Hill Church may return to serve the congregation, now that Mark Driscoll, the megachurch's founder and former head pastor, has resigned, according to recent local news reports.
One former leader and member of Mars Hill who left because of Driscoll's leadership, Kevin Potts, told a news station that he is planning to return.
"Hopefully helping that church rebuild into something that glorifies Christ," said Potts to KING 5 Television in an interview posted Sunday. "I'm not exactly sure what's going to happen when I show up to church tomorrow morning … My purpose isn't to show up and say, 'Ha ha, Mark's gone, we won.'" more >>
A conservative legal group has sent a letter to a California hotel arguing that their hosting of an event by an organization that advocates a complete boycott of Israel may violate state law.
The American Center for Law and Justice sent the letter on Monday to the Westin Bonaventure Hotel & Suites of Los Angeles regarding their hosting of the American Studies Association's annual meeting.