Houston withdraws pastors’ subpoenas

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(RNS) Houston Mayor Annise Parker said Wednesday (Oct. 29) that as important as it is to protect the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), the subpoenas became a distraction.

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  • Lauren Markoe

    I don’t understand your comment. She said they came “without hate in their hearts.”

  • cad

    Definitely an abuse of power! I’ll never understand those gays…they bully normal people and insist on their own immoral lifestyle and yet act as if normal people have no rights. It doesn’t work that way mayor freak!

  • Fourth Valley

    Despite all the articles I’ve read on this issue, I still cannot find a reason for why the subpoenas were even issued. Does anyone know if one was given?? I can’t seem to figure out why the legal team thought they would be of any use in the first place. If there was a legitimate reason for wanting them, then it might be justifiable, but I can’t find any news report that tells if any reason was given or not, and what that reason might have been.

    Anyone know if there was a reason for this?? Because if a good reason exists, then the subpoena makes sense. Otherwise it does seem like an intimidation tactic.

  • The Great God Pan

    That’s a shame. Despite all the misleading coverage from the religion-loving So-Called Liberal Media, there is in fact nothing in the First Amendment that protects churches from any and all subpoenas.

    These particular subpoenas may have overreached, but even that would be a case of prosecutorial overzealousness rather than a religious liberty issue as both the mainstream media and right-wing Christian media portrayed it.

  • Larry M

    What strikes me most about this is the mayor’s humility. it is awesome that she was able to meet with a fair heart and listening ears. I wish all of us could do the same even when we disagree. Actually that is my prayer.

  • matt

    What? Do u work for her or something? She has no humility! She brought on this persecution against people and when the people exercised their legal rights and she was backed up against the wall, that is when she had to back down. Lol you’re so gullible.

  • Religion is too powerful in the USA.

    Witches were burned at the stake as a way to purify the witch’s soul for heaven
    not as a punishment to the witch. Go figure.

    When a Christian says, “We came without hate in our hearts” the same could be said of the Conquistadors, the Crusaders and the Witch Hunters – We are only here to save your soul.

    Look, pastors are not above the law.
    The law forbids them from using their churches as hotbed Political Centers. And this Christian movement to limit the free access of Trans-gender people is just plain bigoted.

  • Let’s try an alternative hypothesis: she and her unprofessional city attorney would prefer the embarrassment of this than the embarrassment of a court quashing the subpoenas.

  • Since some of the pastors were not parties to the suit against the city attorney, no there was no justification for it.

  • Breeders are not Special.

  • The Great God Pan

    The city was looking for potential evidence that churches connected to the initiative had illegally instructed congregants on gathering signatures for getting the initiative onto the ballot. They already had video evidence of one pastor (who also happens to be the director of the Houston Area Pastor Council) doing this. They subpoenaed sermons regarding homosexuality because those were the sermons that were likely to contain illegal instructions regarding the ballot initiative.

    Remember, the city of Houston was the defendant in the lawsuit. The city’s lawyers sought to defend their client however possible, as all lawyers are expected to do.

  • Doc Anthony

    Oh yes, you DO know why those subpoenas were issued. Mm-hmm.

    I know that the term “Gay Gestapo” or “Gay Mafia” (and even Bill Maher has openly used the latter term), may be irritating to some people. But the fact is that those terms are completely ACCURATE these days.

    You already know the score, Fourth. If my church or your mosque decides publicly NOT to play along with the “Gay Rights” or “Gay Marriage” laws, if your imam or my pastor DOES decide to fight back instead of play dead, then our houses of worship and our spiritual leaders, could indeed become targets for GAY GESTAPO mess like those Houston subpoenas.

    See, you’re thinking that these Gay Activists still respect Constitutional freedoms of religion and speech. That’s soooo 1950’s, dude. Today’s gay activists only respect your right to surrender and kowtow and grovel to THEM !!

  • Doc Anthony

    Don’t worry Pan. This will NOT be the last time that churches and clergy get their constitutional freedoms of religion and speech threatened. Oh no no.

    There are yet more zealous gay activists out there, and yet more vicious subpoenas out there, calmly waiting for any churches/mosques/temples that dare to defy the Gay Gestapo. Count on it.

  • Diogenes

    Obviously there is some disagreement about how far freedom of speech stretches. The 1st Amendment states, ‘Congress shall make no law regarding an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press…,’ etc,etc. If Congress (and presumably other lesser legislative bodies) cannot legislate an establishment of religion, nor prohibit free speech, it follows logically that unless a pastor advocates violence or insurrection (Which are criminal acts), any political comments from the pulpit including endorsements should fall under the cover of the 1st Amendment, and not subject to government regulation or proscription.

  • Josh M

    What law forbids them? It’s an honest question.

    What law? Who voted on it and passed it? When was law written? When was the law passed? Was this a federal law which was passed by Congress? Or was it a state law? If it was, was this passed in Texas? If a was a city law, was it passed in Houston?

    If this was a federal law which was passed by Congress, do you think that Congress has a right to pass a law which restricts what the citizens of this country may say?

  • John

    This issue finally exposes the extreme means to which the left will go to silence opposition and push through their agenda. Are there actually people out there who believe that people can use the restroom of their choice? Unlike gay marriage, this one will fail in the end.

  • Fourth Valley

    Ah, see. THAT makes sense. Thanks for the info. I wish more news places would explain why things were happening and give context.

  • Jack

    She should fire that red-diaper-baby city lawyer of hers, who probably convinced her to do it.

    What they were pushing was technically legal, but it was also a Nixonian way of intimidating one’s political and ideological enemies. The radical left has shown that in so many ways, it is Nixon on steroids when it comes to using political office for such purposes.

  • Jack

    John, you’re probably right, but recall the last letter of the LGBT acronym…..the rest-room issue is an attempt to satisfy that particular portion of this Mad Max coalition of cultural marauders.

  • Jack

    Pan, it’s both. The overreach was an attempt to intimidate through the cover bare legality.

  • Jack

    You have to hand it to the radical Left. They have succeeded beyond their wildest late-1960s dreams in turning the tables on traditional America. They now control all the cultural levers and enough of the political levers of power to present themselves as mainstream while making traditionally-minded people look extremist.

    Of course, now that they are the establishment, they’re susceptible to younger people doing the same thing to them….because what the far left is about is not progress but rolling back the clock to medieval statism and decrepit old paganism. There’s nothing progressive about self-styled progressives.

  • Jack

    I meant to say that the overreach was an attempt to intimidate through the cover OF bare legality.

  • Jack

    He’s more than just unprofessional. He’s a “push-the-envelope” extremist who’s working within the system to defeat it.

  • Jack

    Gays are probably like blacks or Hispanics or women in one key political way:

    I doubt that most gays are political or cultural extremists, any more than are most blacks, Hispanics, or women.

    The extremists are the self-appointed leaders of political advocacy groups purporting to speak or act in their name.

    Most people in any of these groups don’t condone the antics of the unelected radical-left leaders who claim to represent them — and who are funded not by grassroots leaders but by wealthy radicals.

  • Jack

    Like most other left-wing extremists, the major dresses like a defender of all things traditional. If she dressed in a way that reflected her values, she’d look like something out of a zombie apocalypse film, or a goose-stepper from an old Stalinist propaganda movie.

  • Jack

    Cad, I’m not sure that most gays would actually agree with this heavy-handed political intimidation. Most of them probably just want to be left alone. It’s the radical left heterosexuals that cooked up the whole gay marriage scam in order to mock marriage in general, which they have always despised as bourgeois, repressive, and “just a piece of paper.”

  • Jack

    I think that radical activists, be they gay, black, Hispanic, or female, are hijacking sexual preference, race, ethnicity, and gender to advance the long-term Marxist goal of taking down democratic capitalism. Decades ago, they said they wanted to do just that in precisely this manner.

    Most radical activists with real power are not gay, black, Hispanic, or female, but straight, white, and male. Again, they are using these identities to divide and conquer their enemy, which is America and western civilization.

  • Jack

    I think that radical activists, be they pro-gay, black, Hispanic, or female, are hijacking sexual preference, race, ethnicity, and gender to advance the long-term Marxist goal of taking down democratic capitalism. Decades ago, they said they wanted to do just that in precisely this manner.

    Most radical activists with real power are not gay, black, Hispanic, or female, but straight, white, and male. Again, they are using these identities to divide and conquer their enemy, which is America and western civilization.

  • Jack

    Atheist Max, the law forbids pastors from overtly endorsing from the pulpit candidates or political parties — something your radical-left pastor friends like Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton regularly violate.

    The law does not forbid pastors from advocating on policy issues.

    Moreover, the law we’re discussing is tax law.

  • Josh M

    I looked this up after I left my question here. Interestingly enough, if a church does “endorse” a candidate or the like, they actually don’t lose their tax exempt status. They only lose their 501c(3) tax status. But they remain tax exempt. So nothing really happens; historically, no church has ever lost their tax exempt status for breaking this “law”

    Also, to call it a law is a stretch. Laws (federal) can only be passed by Congress. This is actually an IRS ban. I searched but I couldn’t find anywhere that actually had this being passed by congress. If this is inaccurate, and Congress did pass this law, let me know. Thanks

  • Larry

    Neither of you knew squat about the facts in the matter. But if someone throws around anti-gay rhetoric and shouts about religious freedom for Christians, there is not a bandwagon you wouldn’t chime in on in an ignorant fashion.

    Despite having the facts laid out for you in several postings on the subject, you guys continue to rattle on in a silly fashion. Obviously the whole outrage over this was staged or based on deliberate misinformation.

  • Larry

    It endangers their tax free status. It would fall under Federal Tax laws concerning the status of religious organizations.

  • Larry

    How about something even closer to the actual facts of the matter.

    The judge already drastically limited the subpoenas more than a week ago (None of you “this is a religious freedom issue” people bothered to pick up on that) and the evidence sought is already made available without them.

  • Larry

    There was never a freedom of speech or religion issue here. The pastors were material fact witnesses to the matter. Since they were not parties to the lawsuit, the subpoena process is the only effective way to compel evidence from them.

    But don’t ever let facts get in the way of martyrbaiting. Pretending conservative Christians are somehow being persecuted because they are inconvenienced by following the rules applied to everyone else.

  • MarkE

    Amen, Larry. Amen

  • MarkE

    Yea, Jack (and John) the right wing never does anything soooo despicable!

  • MarkE

    Whoa, there, pardner. That’s a pretty big leap! I fear you are so afraid of the others that you doubt the power and stability of the greatest system of governance and liberty the world has ever known (at least, that’s what you rwnjs keep telling us when you want to invade other countries and impose our system on them!)

  • Josh M

    That’s actually not entirely true. Church’s by definition are tax exempt. When you establish a church you can request, from the IRS, a 501c(3) tax exempt status. But you don’t have to. Some church’s don’t even have a 501c(3) and they are still exempt. Any church that breaks this ban, would lose the 501c(3) status, but still be tax exempt.

    No church has ever lost their tax exempt status due to the breaking of this ban. This is probably due to church’s not making an income nor a profit. So there’s nothing to tax regardless.

  • Larry

    Art, you have no idea what you are talking about.

    Subpoenas are issued to people BECAUSE someone is not a party to a lawsuit. Its the only way to get the court to compel evidence from potential fact witnesses who are not named in a suit.

    The whole “they are not even parties to the lawsuit” argument is based entirely on ignorance of how civil suits work. All it does is reveal how ignorant the objections really are.

  • Doc Anthony

    According to rumor, when people get their constitutional freedoms of religion and speech repealed by no-good var-mint extremists, it causes significant inconvenience leading to significant opposition.

    Which explains why that Mayor Parker is now singing a different tune on the subpoena mess.

  • Larry

    There you go Doc, relying on rumor rather than facts of the matter. This explains why you are making such uninformed statements.

    It was only rumor and hysteria which brought up the notion that these were even issues of freedom of speech and religion.

    “Mayor Parker is now singing a different tune on the subpoena mess.”

    The judge already limited the subpoenas more than a week ago. You missed it. None of the factless whining and complaining by people like yourself (who would have never voted for her as Mayor anyway) could do more than bring a media stink to the proceedings. Nothing which could affect the conduct or outcome of the case.

  • Pastors are prohibited from endorsing candidates from the pulpit. That is why the subpoenas were focused on what the Pastor’s said from the PULPIT.

    You should be terrified of losing the wall of separation.

    Angry Fascists could come to power and create a new, more activist Jesus religion which would compel everyone to disown their gay family members under penalty of law – if that Wall comes down!!
    Have you never heard of Stalin?

    The ignorance around here about the Wall of Separation is astounding!


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  • Dave V

    Are we not forgetting that God is still in control? The LGBT issue has been around for a few thousand years at least. No matter its labels, it is still oppositional to Biblical reality.

  • Dave V

    Wow! so Christian truth IS against the law “now.”

  • Larry

    Wow! Christians really have an aversion to facts!

    Somehow Christian truth and actual factual truth have become two separate things. So much hysteria from a bunch of liars for the Lord.

  • Precisely. And actually, very few churches in the United States have ever incorporated as a 501c3. There’s no need to. The tax exemption isn’t based upon them being a 501c3, but upon them being a church (or Mosque, or Synagogue, or Hindu Temple etc…).

  • Larry

    But are they a church when they start acting like a PAC? I would think not.

  • I’ve actually been a party to suits like the one in question, Larry. Several, as a matter of fact, though not terribly recently.

    The factual question at issue in such a suit concern the validity of the signatures. Signatures get disallowed for forgery (modally, someone signs for someone else in the household), because the voter is not registered (a problem with petitions not collected door-to-door), because the signatory put his John Henry on a competing petition earlier, because they were collected before or after specified points in the electoral calendar. Whole pages get tossed out because the witness statement is defective in some way. Technically in New York, you can toss out a signature collected by a notary if the signatory was not sworn, but experience lawyer/pols have told me they’ve never seen a judge actually do that. I once had an entire petition tossed out because the template was missing a sentence fragment. I’ve seen another petition fall because the signature count on the face sheet was held to be controlling and if you deducted the disallowed signature from the face sheet count, the sum was insufficient. Ironically, the circulators had miscounted before typing the face sheet. The number of actual signatures less the disallowances would have been sufficient.

    Of course, what various clergy around town have had to say about the week’s New Testament readings is pretty irrelevant to such a suit. You might subpoena them if they helped circulate the petition, but then you’d need their oral testimony about their humdrum door to door work, not what they said on Sunday.

  • Not sure why it did not pick up my name.

  • Michael

    Yes, they are protected by the 1st Amendment. However, the coverage of this case is misleading. The mayor did not subpoena sermons. She subpoenaed the instructions regarding collecting signatures on petitions, which would only apply to sermon if the instructions were GIVEN during a sermon. She subpoenaed them in response to a lawsuit that the pastors themselves had filed.

  • Larry

    Of course if you were paying attention to the actual news and not the Todd Starnes fictional hit pieces, you would already know the subpoenas were limited by the judge LAST WEEK to strictly evidence concerning their direct involvement in obtaining the signatures for the petition. ANY relation between this and freedom of speech/religion issues are entirely fictional.

    “Of course, what various clergy around town have had to say about the week’s New Testament readings is pretty irrelevant to such a suit. ”

    But what they urged people to do in those sermons concerning the petitions is very much relevant to the case.

    Btw subpoenas are not for people who are parties to a suit. Discovery practice handles them. Subpoenas are to bring in people who are not parties to a suit. It is the only way to compel testimony or evidence outside of the litigants.

  • Dave V


    It took me over ten-minutes to reply to your political propagandistic comedy routine . . . my sides hurt so bad from laughing. She thought that Christians had mostly been kow towed by LGBT power.


    Tolerance DOES NOT mean acceptance Mayor Sappho!

  • Dave V

    In the USA more people were killed (murdered) by other people that knew they had AIDS then all of the murders perpetrated by anyone claiming a Christian position for their actions . . . combined and multiply by ten.

  • Larry

    Thank you for proving that you are not someone to bother responding to in a serious manner. 🙂

  • rob

    Atheist Max
    October 30, 2014 at 3:01 pm
    “Pastors are prohibited from endorsing candidates from the pulpit”

    not every one thinks that it is illegal and the supreme court does not want to rule on it..

    black Baptist churches openly in there sermons asked there people to vote for president Obama ..

    the government was aware of it .. also I have heard that many other Baptist beside just black church’s endorse political candidates from the pulpit and have even dared the supreme court to rule on it if they are breaking the law..

  • rob

    the majority of the population of Houston and surrounding areas and most of Texas now see’s the homosexual agenda more clearly than before ..


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