Secular Jihad in Houston

Secular jihad – that's the best way to characterize the subpoenaing of sermons and other communications from pastors opposing the Houston city regime and their "bathroom law."

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It's important not to overreact to the overreach of Mayor Annise Parker and her supporters on the Houston City Council. Yet their actions call for vigorous opposition: First, because of the violation of the Constitution's First Amendment, and second, the irrationality of the bathroom law itself. That latter reason reveals the depth of cultural insanity prevalent in contemporary society.

Calling the subpoenas a form of "secular jihad" is not an overreaction, as a close examination of the origin and meaning of "jihad" shows.

"Jihad" is "struggle" against ideas counter to what one believes to be true. Some scholars of Islam, both Muslims and non-Muslims, believe the Quran teaches three forms of jihad. Personal jihad is the individual's struggle to purify his or her soul from corrupting influence. Verbal jihad is non-violent efforts to persuade others and seek justice. Physical jihad is the use of violent force against opponents.

History shows that when verbal jihad fails there is a turn to physical jihad. Such a struggle, as extremist movements reveal, seeks to stun and astound enemies with brute use of power. One evidence of this brutishness is the factor that the five pastors who were subpoenaed were not part of the lawsuit that the city is defending against.

Mayor Parker and her Council minions do not want a public vote on their bathroom bill because it cannot be passed on merit. The secularists, despite their new militancy, are unable to persuade the public by reasonable arguments (like: it's perfectly reasonable to open women's restrooms for men who perceive of themselves as women, even if your eight-year old daughter is using the facilities). The Parker regime knows it cannot win the vote, so, in good jihadist style, it launches its version of secular jihad through the force and intimidation of the courts.

The Houston subpoenas did violence to the Constitution and the First Amendment, and this is truly stunning. Are lawyers who demanded those subpoenas, the courts that approved them, and Annise Parker and her supporters on the City Council the product of an academic system that taught them either that the Constitution was the concoction of a bunch of old slave-holding white men that can therefore be disregarded, or an educational environment that taught them nothing about the Constitution at all?

Can they really be that judicially ignorant, or is this one more attempt to stretch the Constitution to accommodate current views on homosexual rights? After all, homosexual rights and global warming are now our nation's highest foreign policy priorities according to President Obama, Vice President Biden, Secretary of State Kerry, and Candidate Hillary Clinton.

Secular jihad, like power-dependent religious jihad, wants to threaten, condemn, and dominate. Thus, said Dave Welch, executive director of the Houston Pastors Council –
and a lightning rod in the current maelstrom – the subpoenas "were an act of intimidation and harassment by the city through these law firms." The objective, he thinks, was "to bury us in this type of a demand in an attempt to shut us down, to try to run us out of time, will, or money to continue this lawsuit to its conclusion."

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said the subpoenas were "aggressive and invasive," and reveal a lack of regard "for the very serious First Amendment considerations at stake." In a letter from Abbott to David Feldman, Houston's city attorney, Abbott said, "your action is a direct assault on the religious liberty" constitutionally guaranteed.

Those assaults don't come just from the homosexual lobby, but from the militant atheism that threatens individuals who seek the right of free expression, ranging from schools to the public square. As the proliferation of costly litigation that harnesses free speech shows, secular power-jihad is now becoming widespread. "We do recognize that we are the latest in a series of skirmishes across the nation in this battle," said Welch.

Ironically one of the church leaders whose messages were demanded for government scrutiny was a Vietnamese pastor who had come to the United States as one of the "boat people" fleeing communist oppression in his homeland. One hopes reason will prevail, and he will see that America continues to be the "land of the free" to which he came at such great cost.

Feldman said, in response to the criticism, that the city would now limit its requests to only those pastoral communications that dealt with the bathroom bill. Another stunner: He still apparently does not understand that the Constitution gives the right to pastors to oppose government mandates on moral and ethical grounds.

The Bible these leaders follow condemns the use of violence in their resistance. The Houston pastors who take the New Testament seriously won't bomb City Hall or try to assassinate leaders. They will "sanctify Christ as Lord" in their hearts, fight on their knees in prayer, proclaim truth from their pulpits that trouble the civil powers, and, as the Apostle Peter put it, be ready to give an apologia (a reasoned defense) of the "hope that is in them." (1 Peter 3:15)

Perhaps Feldman and Parker and their friends on the Council believe they have succeeded in their stun and astound strategy of secular jihadism. Maybe they think they have cowed the pastors and congregations so they will not resist the city machine.

Actually, all they've done is awakened multitudes to the dangers and arrogant expansion of secular jihad. Churches everywhere will watch the Houston situation carefully. Houston may be the first city to see this particular application of the strategy, but if it succeeds secular jihad might be executed against church leaders of all types.

Wallace Henley, a former Birmingham News staff writer, was an aide in the Nixon White House, and congressional chief of staff. He is a teaching pastor at Second Baptist Church, Houston, Texas. He is a regular contributor to The Christian Post.

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