Tavis Smiley raised a lot of eyebrows this weekend when he spoke on ABC-TV's "This Week" news show, hosted by George Stephanopoulos. Smiley pointed to double-digit unemployment in the Black community under President Obama and said: "If you're Black or Brown, other than saving the Democrats' hide, what inspires you to go out and vote?"
Economic empowerment for minority families is surely a vital issue, a hardy perennial in off-year elections. But it's not the only issue. Minority voters have always been concerned with Civil Rights. And this year is no exception.
In Houston, Texas, we have seen a bizarre twist on traditional Civil Rights play out. The Mayor of Houston, Annise Parker, has been waging an uncivil war on people who oppose the far-reaching homosexual rights ordinance she powered through the City Council. That ordinance was widely criticized by Houston lay people and pastors, It would endanger protected Civil Rights already covered by the First Amendment, i.e., freedom of religion, critics of Mayor Parker's ordinance said. more >>
Two Christian ministers who own an Idaho wedding chapel were told they had to either perform same-sex weddings or face jail time and up to a $1,000 fine, according to a lawsuit filed Friday in federal court.
Alliance Defending Freedom is representing Donald and Evelyn Knapp, ordained ministers who own the Hitching Post Wedding Chapel in Coeur d'Alene.
"Right now they are at risk of being prosecuted," their ADF attorney, Jeremy Tedesco, told me. "The threat of enforcement is more than just credible." more >>
A church and state watchdog group has warned that the recent controversy over Houston city officials subpoenaing sermons from pastors may create a major conservative fundraising effort.
Rob Boston of Americans United for Separation of Church and State wrote that Houston's legal move against pastors who oppose their recently passed LGBT ordinance will create a conservative backlash.
Writing for the Washington, D.C.-based group's blog "Wall of Separation," Boston argued that the incident "will launch a thousand right-wing fund-raising letters." more >>
Two Christian pastors and a deacon have each been given six-year sentences by an Iranian court. A persecution watchdog group has expressed concern over the development, noting that the prisons are isolated and will force the men's families to travel great distances to see them.
"We are deeply concerned by the six-year sentences given to pastors [Benham] Irani and [Matthias] Haghnejad and deacon Silas Rabbani, and the fact that they will serve these sentences so far from their families and home towns," said Christian Solidarity Worldwide Chief Operating Officer Andy Dipper.
"We are particularly appalled by the extra six years given to pastor Irani, who has already endured ill-treatment whilst in prison and now faces nearly a decade in prison on trumped-up charges. We urge the Iranian government to release without delay every person who is imprisoned for their faith. Their incarceration contravenes international covenants guaranteeing freedom of religion or belief, to which Iran is party." 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 >>