The Rev. Scott Murray, Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod fourth vice president, is senior pastor of Memorial Lutheran Church in Houston. Photo courtesy of LCMS Communications/Erik M. Lunsford

Why I stand with the Houston Five (COMMENTARY)

HOUSTON (RNS) Recently, Houston city attorneys, acting on behalf of Mayor Annise Parker and the City Council, issued subpoenas to five area pastors requiring they hand over copies of all communication with members of their congregations about a gay rights ordinance. The subpoena asks for communications from the pastors related to the mayor, the ordinance, and “gender equality” issues.

What are pastors to do when coerced by a government entity like the city of Houston? It seems to me that there are a two possible responses: one from a Christian pastor, who serves in Christ’s kingdom, and another from a citizen of the kingdom of this world.

How did we get here? These five pastors were at the forefront of an effort to get a referendum on the November ballot to overturn a city ordinance, which among other things would give people access to the restrooms of their choice in public accommodations as a matter of "gender equality."

Opponents of the ordinance gathered about 50,000 signatures in a petition drive to get the issue on the November ballot. The city secretary reportedly has certified that there were sufficient signatures -- it takes 17,269 certifiable signatures to add the referendum. The mayor and the City Council declined to follow the city charter, refusing to place the referendum before the people of Houston.

A group that supports the ballot initiative is suing the city to force it to follow the city charter. As a way of fighting the suit, the city subpoenaed the communications of the pastors, who are not even parties to the lawsuit.

So what is a Christian pastor to do?

The mayor or members of the City Council are always welcome in my congregation. Sermons aren’t exactly private or privileged communications; they are proclaimed to audiences in public and placed on our website for people to listen to any time. Christian preachers condemn human sin and call people to repentance. They proclaim the forgiveness of sins for the sake of Christ, who died for us, to those who mourn their sin. Sexual immorality is sin. Christian preachers will call it what it is. If that offends the politicians, then so be it.

Christian pastors have been offending powerful authorities since Jesus angered the establishment of his day. If my sermons are subpoenaed, I would be tempted to print all of them and hand deliver them all, tied up in a ribbon, with the hope that the mayor might read them. We Christians are called by God to make our testimony before kings, and we should not be ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ. A pastor should be delighted when he is given an opportunity to deliver publicly the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is what those who belong to the kingdom of Christ hope and pray for.

It may be a slight variation on President Obama’s line of a few months ago, but it applies here: “Go ahead, subpoena me!” Put my sermons before a court of law, please! The rage and spite of those who hate the Christian worldview might well benefit the church and her Lord.

But that’s not the whole story.

Pastors are also citizens of the kingdom of Caesar. In the bare-knuckled realm of American politics, the mayor and City Council are not really interested in reading a bunch of Christian sermons to find out what they say. They are attempting to stop Christian pastors from commenting on moral issues that are important to politicians. They are using the coercive power of the city’s legal department and turning it on the speech of the church. Not only is this an effort to shame the pastors for their principled stand on sexual mores, but it is a naked attempt to silence them.

Lawyers from the Alliance Defending Freedom, who are defending the pastors, have called the city’s action a “witch-hunt” and an “inquisition” -- both terms dripping with irony.

Headshot portrait of the Rev. Dr. Scott Murray, LCMS Fourth Vice-President, at the International Center of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod on Monday, Sept. 22, 2014, in Kirkwood, Mo.  Photo courtesy of LCMS Communications/Erik M. Lunsford

The Rev. Scott Murray, Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod fourth vice president, is senior pastor of Memorial Lutheran Church in Houston. Photo courtesy of LCMS Communications/Erik M. Lunsford

 This image is available for web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

The effort by the mayor and the City Council attacks two of the freedoms protected in the First Amendment: the free exercise of religion and the right to political speech. And while it has been argued that the city is not silencing speech, the abuse of state power will have a chilling effect on both the free exercise of religion and freedom of speech.

When will ordinary citizens exercise their right to organize a petition drive in the city of Houston again? The fear of being attacked by the unlimited resources of a bully state keeps people from speaking their minds against the wishes of their political masters. These rights remain the peoples’ rights. And as citizens, the five pastors have every right and every reason to resist these bullying tactics.

Against this bullying, I am glad to stand with them -- both as a Christian pastor and as a citizen. You should too.

(The Rev. Scott R. Murray is senior pastor of Memorial Lutheran Church in Houston, and is the fourth vice president of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.)



  1. Wake up Christians to the growling persecution of your faith. Now is the time to stand up and speak body.

  2. 1 Corinthians 6:9-12 lists many sins right along with homosexuality so all sin
    needs to be confronted not just gay marriage and/or abortion. Bible says all
    drunkards go to hell and if you have a sharp tongue your religion is worthless
    yet we have a whole nation of mean spirited people who don’t bridle their
    sharp tongue/say something mean then laugh after like that makes it okay.
    Drunkards go to hell yet people still get drunk like it’s no big deal. The wine
    Jesus made was diluted/for symbolic reasons not to get drunk and Bible says
    don’t get drunk on strong wine/don’t get drunk with wine for it’s debauchery!
    Ephesians 5:18 says don’t get drunk! 1 Corinthians 6:10/drunkards go to hell.
    Bible says Repent and believe the Gospel to be saved! We all must Repent!

  3. Superbly done, Pastor Murray. No matter where Christians stand on this particular issue, the principles you enunciate about our rights as citizens to resist any effort by any political force to silence us need to be understood!

  4. He’s an LCMS pastor. His viewpoint is not surprising for a’ that. Let’s see if the mainline clergy have anything to say, or the Francis acolytes in the Catholic clergy. They may or may not comport themselves as Regime pets, but I cannot imagine we get out of this without some twit on the masthead Commonweal or The Christian Century giving the pastors and the rest of us a supercilious lecture on some invented departure from good taste.

  5. “The Houston Five”?!? Are you kidding me?

    Give me a break! This is mostly Todd Starnes-inspired exaggeration and playing fast and loose with facts to pretend conservative christians are somehow being victimized for not being able to exert privileges over others.

    In your own words, “These five pastors were at the forefront of an effort to get a referendum on the November ballot to overturn a city ordinance,”

    That makes them material witnesses and fair game for the defense in their effort to gather evidence. It renders your entire argument a load of histrionic bull.

    They are only “coerced” to the point that they want to support the case of the plaintiff’s in the matter suing the city. If they refuse the subpoenas, it simply creates a negative inference for the plaintiff’s case and possible grounds for technical dismissal. Fact of the matter is the pastors and churches were active participants in the activities of the petition drive. They are material witnesses. Since they are not plaintiffs or defendants subpoenas are the only way to bring in their cooperation as providers of evidence in this case.

    “So what is a Christian pastor to do?”

    Talk to the plaintiff’s lawyers to get the subpoena’s quashed by claiming the pastor’s work is irrelevant to the matter. The martyrbaiting involved here is ridiculous. More likely than not if the judge finds that the pastors can provide probative evidence to the case, the subpoenas are valid. The pastors would be considered important fact witnesses. Their involvement would be justified.

    This is not a freedom of speech or freedom of religion issue. It is a civil matter concerning political activities with facts at issue which the pastors’ work is possibly considered evidence.

    Btw I consider these alleged Christians and the pastors who support them to be lower than dirt. They are actively campaigning to be allowed to discriminate against others under the color of law. They want to violate notions of equal protection under the law. I have no respect for such people. They want to be a law unto themselves and use their alleged religious belief as an excuse to act as maliciously and uncivil as possible to others.

    Anyone who claims this has any connection to the role Christian churches played in the Civil Rights Act is full of it. These efforts trample on those past efforts and associations. This is more akin to the shameful activities of the Southern Baptists back in the day when they supported segregation and extolled the godliness of racial bigotry.

  6. That would be a nice sentiment if you weren’t standing for an alleged right to discriminate against others under the color of law in business, housing, employment and city contracting.

  7. Kudos to Scott R. Murray for standing up for religious freedom. The same bullying tactics used by Parker could also be used against “open and affirming” churches’ pastors for their views by a politician with an opposing viewpoint if this precedent stands.

    Every religious organization should be concerned.


  8. Bullying tactics? Its like people intentionally avoid learning the facts of the matter in order to make ridiculous statements about the religious freedom.

    The city of Houston is the one being sued. Those churches are material fact witnesses in a civil suit. People who admittedly by everyone provided support and political aid to the plaintiffs in this matter.

    The “same bullying tactics” couldn’t apply to affirming churches. They would not bother with petitions to recall an ordinance which attacks them. They can rely on the judicial system and the 14th Amendment. The anti-gay groups are trying to manufacture a right which has been resoundingly rejected for decades. An alleged right to attack the civil liberties of others on the basis of religious beliefs. Because of this limitations the plaintiffs in Houston they have to work through the legislative process. Relying on the prejudices of the majority to carry the day. They certainly can’t subject their views to judicial review.

    As with Re. Murray, if you think this has anything to do with religious freedom, you are very much misinformed.

  9. Thank you, Larry, for pointing out the fallacies created by the right wing media over this case. The Houston attorneys would have been remiss if they had NOT subpoenaed these documents. This act is well within our civil laws.

  10. Isn’t there something about the tax laws that say churches cannot get involved in politics as long as they are tax-exempt?
    I agree that we should fight the good fight but more quietly and diligently. We don’t want to get lumped together with the crazy, protesting groups that may call themselves “Christian,” like the nut jobs in Waynesboro.
    I think Jesus took a strong, milder approach.

  11. Thank-you, Pastor Murray. We do NOT give up our civil rights because we are Christian. I encounter fear from many pulpits, and that concerns me greatly.

  12. 1) “Opponents of the ordinance gathered about 50,000 signatures in a petition drive to get the issue on the November ballot.
    2) “The city secretary reportedly has certified that there were sufficient signatures — it takes 17,269 certifiable signatures to add the referendum.
    3) “The mayor and the City Council declined to follow the city charter, refusing to place the referendum before the people of Houston.”

    These are the facts. They are undisputed.

  13. “In your own words, ‘These five pastors were at the forefront of an effort to get a referendum on the November ballot to overturn a city ordinance,’

    That makes them material witnesses and fair game for the defense in their effort to gather evidence. It renders your entire argument a load of histrionic bull. ”

    Pastor Murray fully concedes that. He even admits that sermons are not protected. What he’s talking about is the singling out of these pastors and the demand for their sermons when all of the actions they took to promote the refferendum were done through public channels thus there is no probable cause to demand their sermons. There is no probably cause to demand anything from the pastors since they are not even part of the suit.

    Everything the pastors have done is perfectly within their rights. What those filing the suit have done is within their rights. What’s definitely questionable is whether the actions of the Mayor are within her rights. Yet you demonize those acting within the law and support the mayor. You presume to question the sincerity of conviction of these pastors and those who support them. And you freely, even proudly admit that you consider these pastors to be lower than dirt and accuse them of trying to discriminate when they are doing no such thing.

    In other words, you are clearly far from objective on this.

  14. “Isn’t there something about the tax laws that say churches cannot get involved in politics as long as they are tax-exempt?”

    Churches yes, but what the pastors did they did as individuals. But individuals who work for churches have every right to be in the political process as any other citizens. Everything they did was within their rights. There is no indication that the pastors were speaking for anyone other than themselves.

    Besides that’s a whole other issue.

  15. What documents?? Their sermons??? The pastors were not even involved in the suit. The only fallacy is with the mayor’s actions. Why do you think she’s back-pedaling today??

  16. Thank you, thank you, thank you Rev. Murray! Thank you for speaking out an speaking up and leading as an example to Christians everywhere. We all need to be concerned about the direction our country is taking. We cannot be quiet amongst moral decay. God is calling us to be brave, be strong and point others to the only One who has called us to “Be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life…” (Phil 2:13-16.

  17. “They are attempting to stop Christian pastors from commenting on moral issues that are important to politicians. They are using the coercive power of the city’s legal department and turning it on the speech of the church. Not only is this an effort to shame the pastors for their principled stand on sexual mores, but it is a naked attempt to silence them.”

    I quit reading when I got to this part. If you can’t be even remotely honest or informed about the situation you have no business commenting on it and certainly don’t deserve space in a public forum like RNS. Quite frankly, you should be embarrassed by these lies. That you apparently aren’t show how little you care about yourself or your intended readers.

    I can understand why RNS would want to represent a variety of perspectives on important religious issues. I can’t understand why they would provide a platform for willfully ignorant or deliberately misleading nonsense like this.

  18. Thank you for writing this. You are a hero. May God bless you.

  19. Even the conservative American Vision acknowledges that there is nothing outrageous or unconstitutional about the subpoenas:

    Renowned right-wing lawyer Eugene Volokh agrees, although he allows that the subpoenas may be overly broad:

    It is a sad day when blatantly partisan conservative outlets are more honest and accurate than a supposedly “objective” news outlet like Religion News Service. Perhaps the University of Missouri ought to take a closer look at RNS’s operations.

  20. steveb67 thanks for the info. however, it is not a whole other issue. it is the issue. acting independently is a wise move on on the pastors’ part. but what’s the reason the sermons have been subpoenaed ? i read today that they’ve been asked for collateral material soliciting parishioners for signatures.

    i’m on their side! but i have questions. i want them to look as good as possible to an absolutely vicious press and audience.
    thanks for your info.

  21. You have it completely wrong. Since they are not part of the suit and they are material fact witnesses the only way to obtain evidence from them is through a subpoena. So it is not singling them out if they are relevant witnesses to issues of fact. If the judge finds their sermons and/or possible testimony to not be probative in this suit, the subpoenas will be quashed. The plaintiff’s attorneys would probably challenge them anyway. This whole thing is all PR nonsense to make conservative christians look like victims, when they clearly are not.

    Btw the “sincerity of there conviction” doesn’t change the fact that their cause is repugnant to anyone interested in civil liberties. They are looking for a right to discriminate with legal approval. Sanctioned bigoted sectarian malice. Just because I find their cause loathsome, it doesn’t mean I am misrepresenting facts here. Far from it.

    The entire argument in favor of the pastors and against the subpoenas is based on making material omissions in the facts and showing a lack of understanding of civil lawsuit discovery. Pretending a 1st amendment issue exists because Christians are being inconvenienced.

  22. So if they acted as individuals, there is no 1st amendment issue whatsoever. This is simply discovery of facts pertaining to their political activities in relation to the basis for the lawsuit.

  23. “There is no probably cause to demand anything from the pastors since they are not even part of the suit. ”

    Which means the only way to get evidence from them is from subpoena. That is how it works in a civil suit. Whomever from the rightwingnutsphere is circulating that little talking point is clueless to say the least.

    As for backpedaling, hardly. To those who actually read the news, the subpoenas are being narrowed because that is what would keep the judge from quashing them completely. It is common in a civil suit to refine discovery from something vague and encompassing to specifically relevant.

    “Thus, the case largely hinges on the validity of the signatures and the process by which they were collected. A video posted by Equality Texas shortly after the suit was filed shows Pastor David Welch, director of the Houston Area Pastor Council, training signature collectors about the very city rules that Feldman used to disqualify entire pages of signatures. The subpoenas seek to collect additional information about how pastors like Welch communicated with their congregations about the petition process.”

    It looks like it is pretty relevant information for the suit. Now the subpoenas are narrowed to the petition process. All of the people whining about alleged religious freedom being attacked can go jump in the nearest lake.

  24. Ultimately it is telling that the method used to get rid of this law is through the legislative process. If there was a good faith argument to be made that the law is somehow unconstitutional or in some ways an illegal overstep of authority, the plaintiffs would be challenging the law directly in court.

    One has to bear in mind ALL discriminatory laws are passed by a majority vote. The will of the people is not absolute. We have the Bill of Rights and 14th Amendment to put limits on what majority rule means. Using majority vote to attack the civil liberties of the political minority is usually going to be unconstitutional for one reason or another.

  25. Larry, your ignorance is overwhelming, in this case. they are trying to discriminate? how? they want an ordinance removed from the books that allows any man to walk into any women’s restroom, at any time, and he can avoid prosecution for that by claiming to be gay. this isn’t about equality or any kind of privilege held by straight people. this is about creating an opening for anyone with evil in their hearts to do evil to others, while pretending something that isn’t true. suppose you have a 13 year-old daughter and she goes into a public restroom. do you seriously want a pedophile to be able to claim to be gay and enter that bathroom after she does? there are no rights being violated by having separate facilities for men and women, unless the men’s facilities are simply a hole in the ground around which all the men must stand to do their business, while the women has normal stools with stalls around them. and that’s not discrimination against gays. that’s discrimination against ALL men. you simply find it abhorrent that those of us who have our faith find a behavior that violates the very nature of our bodies would be wrong. the truth is that you likely believe we are nothing more than highly intelligent animals, yet you patently ignore the fact that only a very small number of animals ever engage in same sex pairings and then only in times of extreme famine, when too many extra mouths to feed would be a detriment to the family group, pack, troop, or whatever term is used to describe a grouping of said animals. only humans have had this occur regardless of outside influences, such as famine, drought and the like. and we happen to have a book that explains that this behavior is to be considered unacceptable. note, it only says the behavior is unacceptable. it doesn’t say we should hate those who practice it, as they are no worse sinners than we are. if it bothers you that we have our beliefs and faith and that said faith doesn’t view anything a human being chooses to do as acceptable, as long as nobody else gets hurt, then that’s really your problem, not ours.

    and by the way, in case you are too dense to understand this circumstance, these subpoenas were issued to see to it these pastors were named by the defense, because the plaintiffs are attempting to force the defense to abide by the rules of law put in place by people who came before said defendants, which restrict said defendants from doing whatever the hell they want, without regard to due process or legality. the requisite number of signatures were acquired on a petition, requesting an item be included on the november ballot, relating to a law they consider to be wrong. by law, that item must be included on the ballot, whether the city council and mayor want it or not. the only legal misconduct going on here is by elected officials who want to ramrod their own political views down houston residents’ throats, whether it’s what those residents want or not. where’s your outrage over the elected officials ignoring the rules of law under which they serve, in their elected capacity? if you are ok with what they have done, denying the item be put on the ballot, then you are a huge part of the problem in today’s current political situation. there are rules in place which require government to govern in a certain way. when you and others like you encourage elected officials to go ahead and do what they want, no matter what the rules say, you contribute to the issues of elected officials doing as they please rather than as their constituents want, and that contributes to the disintegration of our society, as a whole. whether you agree with the rules or not, they are the rules and they were put in place for a very good reason. allowing your elected officials to ignore them should never happen and will result in consequences you never anticipated and most definitely don’t want.

  26. yes, Larry, because it’s discriminating against someone by telling them they have to use the bathroom built for people of their gender, rather than being able to claim something, whether it be true or for ulterior motives, to use the opposite gender’s bathroom. i never knew that bathrooms were gender equality issues waiting to be observed. last time i checked, everyone uses a bathroom and each bathroom is equipped according to the anatomy of those using it. arguing that it’s discrimination to make a man use the men’s room is rather ridiculous, don’t you think? even if we didn’t have the issue of pedophiles, we’d still have the issue of men lying in order to attempt some form of voyeurism. if it’s such an issue, abolish all gender specific facilities and make all facilities gender neutral. then the law is no longer needed. build bathrooms like you’d find in europe, where there are rows of stalls and anyone can use any stall at any time. solves the problem and protects your sensitive sensibilities from something that’s not even remotely close to discrimination. but, then, progressives cry discrimination at the drop of a hat, about things that can’t even begin to be called discrimination, even with a very long reach. go ask someone of african heritage, who is older than 50, about real discrimination some time. perhaps you’ll understand the truth of what you’re pandering all over these boards. requiring men to use the men’s room is not discrimination. requiring gay men to use separate facilities from non-gay men would be.

  27. AMEN! Paul. Many sermons pastors give are not even written down. Just a series of bullets about topics they are speaking on, just like many speakers do. The problem in this country is the moral compass has been dropped and broken. Pastors of the Christian faith are gonna point out things that by the ultimate truth, the Bible, are judged to be wrong. Plain and simple. The agenda that the Houston Mayor is pushing and, apparently the City council is morally wrong when seen through the set of “rules” as put forth in the Bible. According to both the Old and New Testament in the Bible the Mayor’s lifestyle is an abomination and she is living in open sin. Just because this country has deemed that ‘ok’ it does not make it ok according to the Bible. These pastors are not part of the lawsuit against the city and what they have spoken is freedom of speech and is protected under the first amendment. If it make the mayor feel uncomfortable that they are saying or preaching against her lifestyle of her lack of common sense, well good! That means that somewhere in the back of her mind there is something wrong about her agenda and she is trying to justify it. I could go on and on, but the crux of the matter is summed up best in Paul’s last sentence “requiring men (or those born with male gentalia-my edit) to use the men’s room is not discrimination, requiring gaymen to use separate facilities from non-gay men would be”. Thanks to Scott Murray for a well written article on the whole situation.

  28. Let’s get this right. The bathroom is NOT about gay men using women’s restrooms. It IS about people who are transgendered using restrooms which fit with their gender identity. That is not a gay issue. Please learn the facts before bashing gay men. By the way this ordinance would allow a female to male transgendered person (who appears female) to use a men’s room.

  29. Paul, nothing you said had any relation to the ordinance or what is going on.

    Here is the full text of the law involved. Nothing to do with bathrooms.

    Nothing you have said has any relation to the facts of the case. Its amazing how you can write so much and say absolutely nothing of any value whatsoever in this discussion.

    The plaintiffs and pastors are people who oppose laws which penalize discrimination against gays in the workplace, housing, and city contracts. The want a right to discriminate under color of law.

  30. “These pastors are not part of the lawsuit against the city”

    Which is why subpoenas are a valid way to bring in their testimony or documents as evidence. You don’t subpoena people who are party to a lawsuit. You subpoena those who are outside of it, who may be material witnesses. You and all the other nabobs supporting the plaintiffs admit these pastors played a part in the events in question. So they are fair game.

    You guys either don’t get that or its a line that is being fed to you by the morons who are making a media circus about it. Obviously most of the objections to the subpoenas stem from ignorance as to what they are and how they are used.

    ” According to both the Old and New Testament in the Bible the Mayor’s lifestyle is an abomination and she is living in open sin”

    And this is why the ordinance is necessary. Because people like yourself will feel so deranged by the presence of people like her that you will act in various malicious and uncivil ways in efforts to cause harm.

    Btw religious freedom means “according to the Bible” will NEVER be a valid reason for the laws of our country nor grounds to oppose them. The plaintiffs had to use legislative methods to fight the ordinance because obviously it is perfectly valid and constitutional from a legal standpoint. If the law was somehow improper they would be suing in Federal Court to have it repealed.

  31. Regardless of the law concerning this particular issue but regarding “gay rights” my only comment is that you can make it legal, but by God’s standards you can’t make it “RIGHT”.

  32. Larry, Thanks for link. It appears that a person who is trans could use one portion if they felt discriminated with reference to gender specific facilities.
    My concern was only that some posts are bashing gay men over this restroom issue.
    I find myself in agreement with your point of view here.
    As a clergy I am not free to participate in a legal and politic process without some accountability for doing so.

  33. Lower than dirt, Larry? Stop talking about yourself! Let me guess: you are a gay troll, right?

  34. Thank you Paul. Larry does not understand, but then, “ignorant people will not see.”

  35. Ah Devo, providing us with an object lesson in “ignorant people will not see.” Larry is correct about the issues of the case. You and your tribe of wanna-be martyrs will have to look elsewhere, as you will, to satisfy your persecution complex.

  36. Christians are hardly being persecuted, they have enormous freedom to carry out their practises whenever they like and with whoever they like.
    It is just when their freedoms impinge on the freedoms of other groups, that debate occurs, as it should. Then suddenly the baby goes out with the bathwater and both sides label themselves as victims of each other and try and claim the moral high ground of martyrdom of their respective ideologies.

  37. Wake up Christians before you allow people to steamroll right over your rights.

  38. But what about the rights of those who don’t agree with aforementioned Christians or Christians who don’t agree with other Christians?

    If society is going to work, then there needs to be accommodation from both sides.

  39. To look for legalized excuses to discriminate makes you malicious scum. No better than racists who supported segregation. Exactly like them in virtually every way.

    No I am not gay, I just know ignorant, bigoted, dishonest nonsense when I see it. But thanks for the attempt at ad hominem. At least I know I don’t have to worry that your posts might contain anything worth responding to.

  40. Frankie No-Facts, as his friends call him, has no interest or concern for those who do not conform. Like other graduates from the I’m Rubber, You’re Glue School of Debate, Frankie is just fine with ignoring the rights of nonconformists, but whines like a spoiled brat denied this third baby-bottle of Pepsi if he’s treated as an equal under the law.

  41. Re: “Lawyers from the Alliance Defending Freedom, who are defending the pastors, have called the city’s action a ‘witch-hunt’ and an ‘inquisition’ — both terms dripping with irony.”

    This event is neither a “witch-hunt” nor an “inquisition.” But even if it were … please note that it was sanctimoniously-enraged Christians who invented both of those things. Wouldn’t it be rich if Christians’ enemies were using their own methods against them?

    (Not that this is what’s happening, as I said. Merely pointing out the deliciousness of it … !)

  42. Its time all Christians, as well as pastors develop some spiritual backbone & stand up to Satan & His wicked followers in this world, who would control & silence the church. Personally, I will go to jail before I compromise my faith or follow orders that would control my freedom in Christ. Jesus shed His blood & died on Calvary’s cruel cross to save our souls & give us eternal life, what will we suffer for Him? Paul gives us sound advice in Ephesians 6:10-20 & 2nd. Timothy 4:1-8. Stand fast in the faith, lean hard on Jesus, He will carry us thru the trials & spiritual battles of this life.

    Your brother in Christ Jesus,
    John Trier

  43. Oh no! Not drinking the sugary carbonated drinks again. That only rots the teeth and causes hell-o-tosis. Much better to drink the Kool Aid, even if it tastes a bit strange.
    Also takes care of those feelings of persecution 😉

  44. @Rev. Scott Murray,

    “a Christian pastor, who serves in Christ’s kingdom, and another from a citizen of the kingdom of this world….”

    Then why not stay in ‘Christ’s Kingdom’? Why can’t you be happy with your Jesus?

    I’d like to see it stay out of the ‘kingdom of this world’ entirely.
    The mean nonsense of Jesus should be nothing but an embarrassment to you.

  45. @Larry,

    You are exactly right, as usual.

    Bigoted pastors and their bigoted Jesus philosophy is on display everywhere – and they should be ashamed of it. Instead they double down!

  46. @John Trier,

    “Its time all Christians, as well as pastors develop some spiritual backbone & stand up to Satan & His wicked followers in this world, who would control & silence the church.”

    Now you should act more civilized. Nobody is denying you anything.
    And you are acting like a crybaby just because some non-believers and regular non-Christians happen to live in the same community as you.

    America is for everybody – not just Christians. And these laws affect everybody so keep your Jesus to yourself in church and in your family home. Don’t force your Jesus onto the rest of us.

    “Jesus shed His blood & died on Calvary’s cruel cross.”

    Believe that if you want. Free country and all that.
    But I have all the right to call Jesus total nonsense – and as you push your Jesus onto our laws the rest of us who support the separation of church and state will simply have to keep pointing out that it is nonsense.

    If you want me to stop pointing out that your Jesus a joke, then stop shoving it onto the public laws.

  47. Lori,

    Jesus’ main focus in his preaching was the good news of God’s kingdom as the only hope for ruling over mankind on earth (Matthew 4:17; Matthew 24:14).

    Jesus said his Kingdom was no part of this world, since it a heavenly government (John 18:36), and neither he, nor his disciples, nor the first-century Christians got involved in politics or worldly conflicts (wars; Matthew 26:52).

    True Christians today should not get involved in politics and remain neutral when it comes to war, following Jesus’ example.

    Instead, they should give their full allegiance or support to God’s kingdom, which will soon intervene in man’s affairs and bring true blessings of peace, security and happiness to all meek mankind (Isaiah 11:1-9; Revelation 21:1-4) and an end to all wicked ones/terrorists on the planet (Psalm 37:10,11).

    I have never voted (I’m 60 years young) and never will since I support theocracy, or rule by God, and not rule by man. However, I do pay my taxes and respect man’s authority and laws. Should man’s laws ever conflict with God’s laws, principles or commands, however, I will do as the apostle Paul did, or “obey God as ruler rather than men” (Acts 5:27-29), even if it means persecution or imprisonment for me.

    I still cannot comprehend why so many religions get involved in politics, even encouraging the congregations on who they should “vote” for… ???

  48. Granted.

    Issuing supoenas for sermon or speech materials in an effort to silence opposition (and the Consitution’s guarantee for the free exercise of religion and speech) is hardly accommodation from the side that advocates for homosexual and transgendered agendas.

  49. Max,

    I can’t wait until God’s kingdom of heavenly government, with Jesus as its King, soon puts an end to all of man’s corrupt, selfish and greedy political systems, economical systems, and false religious systems, all of which have enslaved humans for centuries!!! 😀

    I know you don’t believe this for a minute, but I always have to share good news and I’m an elite optimist!!

    Mankind will finally know what true “freedom” is and there will no longer be any “bickering” as evidenced by the many posts on this subject, since it will no longer be an issue, along with all the other issues that are now prevalent. And I’m not just talking about America, but the whole planet (and no more worries about Ebola or any other virus!).

    We humans will finally know what a righteous, just and loving rulership feels like (Isaiah 11:1-9), for a change (instead of those “changes” promised by politicians which never come true!)….. 😀

  50. Actually I think in this case there is a specific issue, as one woman shared with the city government.

    “I do not want to have to worry about my eight year old daughter find a transgendered man in her public bathroom.”

  51. A two year old under discipline is convinced his or her parent is being “mean”.

    You sound more and more like a two year old Max. You give atheism and humanism a black eye because it is obvious that you are blinded by your rage and hatred of religion in general and Christianity in particular and cannot actually construct a rational argument that is convincing.

    Are you really changing minds? Or are you just making an idiot of yourself?

  52. Max,

    I think the Rev. Murray means that he’s an ambassador for God’s kingdom while on earth. If he was actually serving “in” God’s kingdom now, he would be a spirit person in the heavens and co-ruler among the 144,000 who form that Kingdom in the heavens (Revelation 7:4-8; 14:1-5), along with Jesus as King. But I welcome his reply as well to verify that.

    I rather see the kingdoms of the world go down myself. They just don’t know which way to go with all the crises going on around the world.

  53. @John,

    ‘Transgendered men’ are not pedophiles. That is known as known as knee jerk prejudice, fear and bigotry. These pastors are simply giving in to all of it because that is the philosophy of Christianity: claim something to be a ‘sin’ and then run it out of town.

    Pastors, in their godly wisdom directed by the ‘holy spirit’ grant themselves this privilege to claim what constitutes ‘sin’ yet they are no better, and often worse, than the general population for figuring out such things.

    Furthermore, rapists are not sitting around waiting for city ordinances about bathrooms.

    And transgender is a real thing – these people have a right to privacy, too. This prudish, dirty-minded, parochial thinking needs to stop.

  54. As I cited the entire ordinance above, please find the section of it referring to transgendered bathrooms use.

    Here you go

    Maybe I overlooked it but, it seems like a total hysterical reaction rather than a legitimate gripe. Much like pretty much all of the posts supporting the pastors in this situation, including the author.

  55. @John

    You really have no grasp of the facts here. The subpoenas, which have been modified after review by a judge, are for material fact witnesses concerning the pastors POLITICAL ACTIVITIES concerning the petitions and signatures at issue here. They are not party to the lawsuit so the only way to obtain evidence from them in one form or another is through the subpoena process.

    If you thought this had anything to do with freedom of speech or freedom of religion, you have either been misinformed or are keeping yourself intentionally ignorant of the facts here.

    As for the “LGBT agenda”, theirs is pretty clear. They want to live a sane existence and don’t want to be discriminated against by uncivil malicious people. Accommodation meaning not being attacked in public.

    Your agenda however is not so clear. The opponents of the ordinance are looking for a new right to discriminate under color of law. To take any notion of civil liberties and normal conduct and flush it down the toilet because…Jesus. There can be no accommodation for such an agenda because it is so corrosive to civil order and civil liberties.

  56. @John,

    I do not like it when pastors get involved with politics – even city ordinances! How dare they?

    1. Religion brings bigotry to their judgements.
    2. Religion cloaks their motives in ‘godliness’ when such a thing cannot be determined.
    3. Religion grants pastors influence in the community they have not earned through votes.
    4. It is illegal for pastors to push a political opinions through their tax-free podiums.

    If pastors cannot convince their sheep to stay in the pen using the holy spirit, too bad. Pastors are not allowed to use other means such as the force of law to expand their influence and their sheepfold!

    Pastors don’t want Transgenders in women’s bathrooms! Show me the Bible Verse which preaches the wisdom of this godly insight!

    Right. You won’t find it.
    Of course I’m furious at pastors. Their philosophy wrecks common decency at every chance. We would still have slavery if we followed the Southern Baptist Church in the 1850s.

    And I don’t mind using this small issue as an example for all Christians to consider. Witness how religion transparently claims for itself a favored status to influence not its church – but those outside of it through our public laws.

    If we can’t keep religion out of government, then religion must be ridiculed and defeated by building up a secular society.
    What nerve it must take for these pastors to cloak their bigotry in godliness. Honestly. For shame!

  57. @Fran,

    “I think the Rev. Murray means that he’s an ambassador for God’s kingdom while on earth.”

    How very humble of him !!!!

    I’m not impressed with this self-appointed, self-righteous servitude to destroy human decency in God’s name.

    How dare these peacocks look down on transgendered people as if they are somehow subhumans!!! As if they shouldn’t have the rights that others have.

    Preists and Pastors need to stay out of politics.
    Believe me, this involvement by the Pastors increases hatred toward religion a hundred fold. It is indecent.

  58. Larry,

    Yes these pastors are pumping up hysteria.

    But that is what religion is – hysteria.
    Pastors promote hysteria:

    talking in tongues
    prayer trances
    sightings of the virgin

    Hysteria = irrational behavior, obsessive, compulsive neurosis.
    It is exactly the last thing anyone in America needs these days.
    More hysteria.

  59. Also The Good Reverend Murray exaggerated and misrepresented the situation entirely to make people who are looking for a right to discriminate appear to be victims. I guess he thinks lying is perfectly OK as long as you are doing it for Jesus.

    He certainly makes one think very lowly of Christians like him and their views of morality.

  60. Many people like yourself certainly are under the mistaken impression that you have the right to attack the civil liberties of others because of your Christian faith.

    You don’t have a right to discriminate against others. Calling it Christian belief doesn’t change that. It just means you are too much of a coward to own up to your own personal bigotry and look for socially sanctioned excuses for it.

  61. If you weren’t an irredeemably pedestrian thinker, you might every once in a while give a hint at some criteria to be applied in adjudging whose ‘discrimination’ is proper and whose is to be legally proscribed.

  62. Nope.

    Its just bullcrap excuses by Christians to be uncivil malicious dillholes towards others. Pedestrian is thinking that “God says so” is an excuse to act badly towards others.

    Christians are not being discriminated here. It takes a great deal of dishonesty and whining to make the claim that they are in this situation. But lying for the Lord is a standard practice. .

  63. Larry, you were actually making some sense in your post until you got to the “btw” portion. Then it was back to Larry in Loon Land again, hair on fire.

    The “equal protection” argument is laughably absurd because it is circular and question begging — it assumes that everyone agrees that marriage should be redefined, when that is precisely what people are arguing with each other about.

    Put another way, the only way you can honestly deem the denial of gay marriage to violate equal protection under the law is first to change the law so that the word, “marriage” is redefined. Even if every court in the country deemed it a violation of equal protection without first changing the definition of marriage, it wouldn’t be any less absurd or dishonest.

    The honest way to establish a constitutional right to gay marriage is to begin through legislation or constitutional amendment to redefine marriage to include gay marriage and then to apply the equal protection amendment.

    But when it comes to the Larrys of life, the ends justify the means….all that matters is result, and constitutional process be damned.

  64. Sharon, even people who support gay marriage should be disturbed by the dishonest way advocates and activist judges have sought to use the 14th amendment to do what only a legislature or constitutional amendment process can do. But most people who support it either know little about constitutional process or do know and don’t care. For them, the ends justify the means, and result matters more than how you got to it.

  65. Fran, you’re a big part of the problem, unfortunately. From both a biblical and a civic standpoint, a decision to throw away one’s vote is a dereliction of duty. It’s your legal right not to vote, but that doesn’t make you morally right in failing to vote.

    Based on the clear words and meaning of Scripture, God is the author of government and as Paul states, even in a fallen world, we are to respect the institution of government. When the form of government we’re under is a democratically elected government, where we are essentially a pivotal participant, a decline to participate is a profound disrespect for the institution — and thus is disobedience to God, its author.

    It’s your choice, Fran, but in an electoral democracy, a failure to vote is a failure to participate, and a failure to participate is a failure to respect what God has ordained.

  66. What a ridiculous argument, Larry. There is no “civil liberty” stated or implied in any constitutional text concerning gay marriage. Nor is there any precedent for gay marriage in any country or culture in history. It’s a completely made-up notion that can only be legitimately made a “civil liberty” through legislation or amendment. Sure, courts are doing it themselves, but that doesn’t mean they’re right. The history of court rulings in this country is littered with instances of judicial activism on both sides — left and right — leading to constitutionally atrocious rulings which subsequent courts later overruled.

    In order to create a civil right to gay marriage, even you know that first, you have to create legislation redefining the word, “marriage” to include same-sex marriage. You can’t just arbitrarily declare it a civil right and expect everyone to roll over.

  67. It would help if Christians would simply do their civic duty and vote — show up at the polls on election day. Too many Christians subscribe to nonsensical theologies that amount to unilateral cultural surrender to the same forces they decry.

  68. No Jack, you just chose to deny events going on all around you.

    Talk of “redefining marriage” is begging the question and making an appeal to tradition absent any legitimate reason for doing so.

    Marriage rights are permissive in nature absent rational and secular reasons to prevent a given union. There is no such argument to be made for banning gay marriage. It is entirely irrational and religious in nature. Time and again, the anti-gay crowd has come up empty when it came time to form a coherent rational argument in favor of their position. It remains so.

    Legislatures are not the final word on the constitutionality of laws nor the ultimate arbiter of civil liberties. That is the judicial system. EVERY discriminatory law is passed by a majority. It does not make it constitutionally valid.

    Fact of the matter is, those looking to overturn the ordinance are terrible immoral people who want a right to discriminate. There is no need to pretend it is a goal worthy of respect.

  69. “There is no “civil liberty” stated or implied in any constitutional text concerning gay marriage. ”

    You can take that up with the Federal Courts. They say otherwise. They are the people whose job it is to interpret laws to ensure their constitutionality. The 14th Amendment is what defines civil liberties and it has been interpreted rather expansively in the last 60 years. You are just a little late to the party.

    Fact of the matter is, your crowd cannot form a coherent rational and secular argument in favor of banning gay marriage. This, not “judicial activism” is why you guys keep losing cases in court.

    “You can’t just arbitrarily declare it a civil right and expect everyone to roll over.”

    Hmm they said the same exact thing about desegregation back in 1954. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

  70. Larry seems to want a “coherent rational and secular argument in favor of banning gay marriage”. Several of them have been written, and one is provided here. I would suggest that to ignore voices like this one would be akin to rendering your own arguments “a load of histrionic bull”.

  71. “Hmm they said the same exact thing about desegregation back in 1954. The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

    Larry, you’re comparing apples and oranges here. Racial discrimination is NOT the same as “discrimination” concerning homosexuality (notice the quotation marks, where they are and are not used). Racism and homosexual behavior are both condemned in the Bible, in the Old and New Testament each. And, if you’re one of those, “But the Bible is nothing but fairy tales//then what about touching a pig’s carcass//what about wearing clothing with two different materials//etc.” sorts, then we have no basis for conversation and the discussion’s over as we Christians stand on our principles moving forward.

  72. When Christians are told, “You will” then that is a form of persecution! The Government has “no rights”. The Christian has the Right. Remember the 1st Amendment states, “Congress shall make no laws” concerning the free exercise of Religion! My speaking out on your rights to run naked through the street is a First Amendment issue. Remember your rights end with the end of your nose. You come into my church you will hear God’s Word speaking out against sin. Don’t like it don’t come in!

  73. Great piece! Our pastors in the USA are going to either speak up or give up. I wonder which it will be.

  74. I TOTALLY AGREE with your comment!! We are to STAND with the WORD of GOD, and just because Christianity does not uphold homosexuality is the reason why the pastors are being targeted–in my opinion. This has nothing to do with obtaining evidence, but it has to do with opposition to a certain lifestyle that is shameful and forbidden. I stand with the pastors that teach the uncompromising WORD of the GOSPEL; and we as a nation should stand with the rights of the pastors in order to secure the rights of all. This is America and we have the freedom to believe, speak, and think as we will– not because it offends certain groups.

  75. No I am not. You are not being honest in what you are standing for.

    The behavior is exactly the same, the arguments are the same. They even use “separate but equal” arguments for crissakes. You are just uncomfortable with being associated with people on the negative side of history. I can see why it would be distressing to acknowledge such things. People usually don’t want to acknowledge their own prejudices in such an open manner.

    These anti-gay Christians want to attack a given group based on external characteristics in all forms of civil life. They want a legal right to discriminate against people in employment, as customers to their businesses, as people looking for homes, or working in contracts for the city. They want literally segregation of gays from society.

    Worst of all you want legal sanction for it. You want Jim Crow 2.0. You and those pastors are no better than the KKK and those Southern Baptists that said that God justified their bigotry and discriminatory behavior as well.

    Btw Racism is hardly condemned in the Bible. You are not being remotely honest here. Christians used to use the Bible to justify racial discrimination (many still do). The Southern Baptist Sect was founded on the notion of God supporting the treatment of blacks as inferior. [They didn’t apologize for this for 150 years of their existence] “Christian Identity” sects all find Biblical justification for their form of virulent racism. The state level judge who was overtuned in Loving v. Va. even quoted Acts to justify why races should not intermarry.

    “Christians stand on our principles moving forward.”

    Evidently lying for the Lord is part of your Christian principles. As is acting in a deliberately malicious way towards others. Your principles are worthless.

    I am one of those people who doesn’t like to see the term “religious freedom” abused by self-interest people who want to attack the civil liberties of others. Someone who understands the term. I can’t say the same about you or many of the other posters who have the same POV as yourself.

  76. I see someone has no concept of the term “Equal protection under the law”. The 14th Amendment is there as a guarantee that majority rule does not lead to discriminatory actions.

    State and local legislatures lost the right to be the final arbiter of civil liberties in 1868. We fought a civil war over the issue. The people who believed as you do lost.

    If people honestly believed that the ordinance was unconstitutional or procedurally wrong, then it would have been challenged in court, not by ballot. That is the job of the judiciary. To evaluate the validity of laws on the books. Obviously that is not the case. Hence the petition.

    Your statements are just an admission that your POV doesn’t have a legal leg to stand on.

  77. Kat, you couldn’t name one yourself. Instead you link to some rambling screed. You couldn’t even find one in the link you gave me. I doubt you even read it. You can’t form the most basic idea of such an argument in your own words. I am still correct.

    Saying, “arguments exist” is not the same as showing they do.
    Obviously you don’t have one or you would have been able to give me your own. So it is clear your objections are neither rational nor secular.

  78. Good job Pastor Murray! “Priests and pastors need to stay out of poltics.”? Seems to be the sum or the argument: Close down free speech! God bless you Pastor Murray for being our voice of conscience. Ministers have been the voice of conscience for government from before recorded history. They have stopped wars. They have brokered peace among divided people. They petitioned for civil rights. What a cruel, animalistic world this would be with the voice of conscience and reason. Did Dr, Martin Luther King have no right to speak out on civil rights? Would you ban him from his I Have a Dream Speech? What about Diedrich Bonhoffer? Was it illegal for him to oppose Hitler?

    Psalm 119:46 says, “I will also speak of your testimonies before kings and shall not be put to shame.” That is religion right out of the Bible, religion the First Amendment guarantees.

  79. Good grief! Another uninformed martyrbaiter.

    The plaintiff’s here are supporting the kind of hateful nonsense that Diedrich Bonhoffer died fighting. They are fighting AGAINST civil rights. Against acting with the notion of treating people in a just and fair manner. They are a lot closer to the Southern Baptists who claimed to be making a stand against racial equality, than they are with Martin Luther King.

    There is no religious freedom or freedom of speech issue here at all. If you thought one existed, you chose not to inform yourself of the events in question.

    The pastors here are MATERIAL FACT WITNESSES to the events concerning how signatures for the petition were gathered. Whether the plaintiff’s violated the rules which caused the signatures to be disqualified. The evidence of their activities is material to discovery in the lawsuit. This has nothing to do with their religious beliefs or views. It has to do with their actions in relation to the facts at issue in the suit.

    In a civil lawsuit, a subpoena is merely the form of fact finding for people who are not parties to the matter. Plus the subpoenas were already reviewed by a judge and limited to activities related to the issues of the lawsuit. Any notion of impropriety or coercion went out the window once the subpoenas were subject to judicial scrutiny.

    Maybe next time you spout off about how your faith demands civil action, you could bother to learn the facts first.

  80. Rev. Martis, you seem to join a pattern of clergy chiming in on this subject who have no clue whatsoever what is going on. Rev. Murray deliberately misstated facts and issues involved and everyone else seemed to follow blindly.

    So when a pastor is a participant in an activity which is in dispute in a lawsuit, is it an imposition on their freedom to provide evidence of it?


    This whole thing has never been about what the pastors preached, but what they actually did. You guys act like Christians somehow absolved from having to discuss their public activities.

    This is not about freedom of speech or religion. Its about fact finding in a civil lawsuit where the pastors are material witnesses of the facts in dispute. No different than if they were being subpoena’d about being eyewitnesses of a car accident or in this case a voting rights/municipal legislative action.

    Lets also be honest here. The plaintiffs here are looking for a right to discriminate under color of law. That is offensive to notions of civil liberties and freedom.

  81. So it’s a civil right to follow my wife into the restroom? Pathetic. Yes perverted. What about her right to privacy? Equal protection under the law protects her as much as it protects you. No one has a right to violate a woman’s privacy. Your arguments are adhominum, bullying, and straw men. If you have ever read Diedrich Bonhoffer, you would know he was dealing with much more serious issues that restroom access. Bonhoffer would have been shocked to see how far we have sunk. God have mercy on us all!

  82. I have posted a link to the full law verbatim, several times. Here it is.

    Show me where it addresses bathrooms and transgendered people.

    My arguments are not ad hominem. This is another thing you don’t understand but feel the need to spout off about. I am impugning your intelligence and knowledge of the relevant facts of this issue. That is different.

    You repeat nonsense having nothing to do with this matter. You are just falling for deliberate hysteria. You have no idea what you are talking about.

    This is not a religious freedom/freedom of speech issue. Its a evidence in a civil lawsuit issue. The subpoenas were modified by a judge to be limited to the pastors’ activities in supporting the plaintiff’s efforts almost a week ago. You are way way behind the curve here.

    Btw Diedrich Bonhoffer opposed people who attacked and marginalize people under the color of law. The plaintiff’s here support such things. It is a boneheaded reference which is being bandied about in an ignorant fashion.

  83. I would encourage everyone on both sides to find a real person who disagrees with you on this topic, and talk about it! Message board debates just make people angry and reinforce false impressions. Find somebody who disagrees with you and talk with them about it, and you both learn a lot.

    Pax Christi

  84. I thought this discussion was about Houston’s mayor’s wanting restrooms on public property to be sexless. All I am seeing now is about gay marriage. What does marriage to anyone have to do with who may go into a toilet on public property?

    Just asking.

  85. 2. Religion cloaks their motives in ‘godliness’ when such a thing cannot be determined.
    “Godliness” can be determined. It is determined by God. And it can be determined who speaks for God. Check them out against what the Bible actually says. How do we know that the writers of the Bible speak for God? Jesus was executed for claiming to be God. He rose from the dead, as He had predicted. His death was certified by the government of His day. His resurrection was attested by hundreds of people who saw Him alive after His death. So, God Himself testified that Jesus spoke for God. Jesus endorsed the Old Testament (Hebrew Scriptures) and authorized the New Testament to be written by His students (disciples, apostles). Not to mention all the miracles which Jesus did to prove that He spoke for God. No other religion has these historical facts. So no other religion can prove that they can define godliness. But biblical Christianity can, and so it does.
    3. Religion grants pastors influence in the community they have not earned through votes.
    No, religion has no power to grant influence. Bible-following Christian colleges and seminaries train pastors to pass on the teachings of the Bible, so that God will have influence on the people who hear. How does someone earn influence through votes? How much do we know about candidates for political offices? Half a dozen 1 minutes ads? A couple half-page mailings? Half of a couple debates? My parishioners can hear hours and hours of what I teach, and pages and pages of articles which I write. And some “vote with their feet” when they disagree with something I say. Those who keep listening believe what I am saying, or are at least open-minded enough to listen to God’s side of the issues. A pastor’s influence is “earned” much more than any politician’s influence can be.
    4. It is illegal for pastors to push a political opinions through their tax-free podiums.
    No, it is not “illegal.” If the IRS wishes, they can take away tax exempt status. But the first amendment tells the government to keep itself out of establishments of religion. That is originally why the government does not tax religious institutions. The problem comes when the government favors one kind of religious speech over another by discriminately giving tax exempt status to some and not others. Another problem is when governments and/or politicians claim that moral and ethical issues are “political” instead of “religious.” Churches have been speaking about moral and ethical issues from the beginning. Government officials do well to listen. They can decide which religions are teaching the truth on the issues (truth includes what agrees with physical realities). But government would be unwise to discourage religious speaking by taxing it or worse. Corrupt governments try to silence their opposition. Good government listens. It may or may not do what the religions it listens to are teaching. But the founding fathers of the U.S.A. valued the input of the churches in their territories. They also valued the more moral citizens which the churches helped to produce.

  86. It has to do with none of the above.

    It has to do with prohibiting discrimination of gays in housing, open commerce and employment with companies that accept contractor bids for the city.

    The bathrooms thing is a flat out lie by people who feel hysteria is more useful for their agendas than facts.

    Here is the full text of the ordinance

  87. Larry, I could be wrong here, but I believe the reason why people are making reference to restrooms is because Chapter 17. Article IV. Sec. 17-51 (a) prohibits discrimination against a person with protected characteristics (which includes Gender Identity, per the second whereas) with respect to public accommodations. This prohibition against discrimination in public accommodations would logically mean that persons would be allowed to choose the restroom which they use in these facilities open to the public based on their gender identity, not the state of their physical anatomy. To refuse their use of said facilities would violate the ordinance and constitute illegal discrimination. Thus, this ordinance appears to allow for persons who identify as female to use the Women’s restroom even if they have male reproductive organs. Whether or not such usage of the restrooms in public accommodations by a person with male reproductive organs constitutes a realistic danger to a person with female reproductive organs is not a matter I will attempt to address. The ordinance does, however, appear to present the possibility that such a situation could, in fact, arise.

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