The city of Houston’s attempt to subpoena pastors in order to determine whether they discriminated against transgender individuals continues to cause outrage amongst conservatives, with former Harris County GOP chairman Jared Woodfill labeling the move an ominous attempt to silence free speech.
The controversy is centered around Houston’s so-called “bathroom bill,” a law passed in June that allows members of the opposite sex to use each other’s restrooms. Houston residents responded by collecting 50,000 signatures to get the measure repealed, three times the amount required to put the issue on the ballot.
However, lesbian Mayor Annise Parker and City Attorney David Feldman rejected the petition, prompting its supporters and the Alliance Defending Freedom to file a lawsuit, Woodfill v. Parker.
The city shot back by demanding that pastors opposed to the law hand over “communications with church members” to determine which pastors have “opposed or criticized the city.”
According to former Harris County GOP chairman Jared Woodfill, the city’s actions represent a brazen attack on the First Amendment.
“The goal here is to get them to sit down and shut up, to harass them so when issues like this come up in the future, these pastors and others will see what’s happened here and will remain silent,” said Woodfill.
As Reason’s Scott Shackford explains, the city’s actions are indicative of the fact they they have no confidence in their electorate supporting the “bathroom bill.”
“Such a broad demand for communications appears a bit absurd. All sermons related to homosexuality from conservative preachers?” writes Shackford. “Much of that could have nothing to do with any sort of activism against the ordinance. And did nobody think about how it was going to look to demand any communications by a religious leader that mentioned the city’s openly gay mayor?”
The attempt to intimidate pastors by obtaining their sermons and communications regarding transgender individuals is clearly an onerous violation of the First Amendment and a full frontal assault on religious freedom.
Christians are increasingly being targeted for peacefully voicing their views on homosexuality, abortion and alternative lifestyles. When it comes to political correctness, leftists aren’t satisfied with “tolerance” alone, such ideas must be embraced and adopted – by force if necessary – with a zero tolerance policy for the free speech rights of anyone who disagrees.
Back in July we featured a video of peaceful pro-life demonstrators being attacked by a crazed abortion advocate in Columbus, Ohio for simply holding anti-abortion signs.
Earlier this year, a preacher in England was arrested for quoting from the bible after a group of gay teens told police they were upset.
An American preacher was also arrested in Scotland in January for calling homosexuality a sin.