This is what happens when Christians stand together.
Houston Mayor Annise Parker decided today to withdraw the subpoena of sermons and other communications belonging to five area pastors in a lawsuit in which the pastors are not even involved.
The plight of the Houston 5 garnered nationwide attention and outrage from Americans who saw this as a clear infringement of these pastors' First Amendment rights.
"The mayor really had no choice but to withdraw these subpoenas, which should never have been served in the first place," explained Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel Erik Stanley. "The entire nation—voices from every point of the spectrum left to right—recognize the city's action as a gross abuse of power. We are gratified that the First Amendment rights of the pastors have triumphed over government overreach and intimidation. The First Amendment protects the right of pastors to be free from government intimidation and coercion of this sort."
The mayor's decision comes just days before I Stand Sunday, a Houston rally for the five pastors that will be broadcast live on the Web , and Pulpit Freedom Houston, a national event encouraging pastors across America to stand in solidarity with the Houston 5 and their right to speak freely from the pulpit.
These events will still take place this Sunday, November 2, but even with the subpoena withdrawn, national participation in these events is just as important as ever.
For one thing, Mayor Parker is still refusing to give the people of Houston the right to vote on whether or not to repeal Houston's new HERO (Houston Equal Rights Ordinance) law, which requires public accommodations to allow access to facilities without considering gender – including public restrooms.
The people earned the right to repeal the law or vote on it after gathering more than enough signatures needed for their petition. The mayor and city attorney later rejected thousands of signatures that were verified by the city secretary who is entrusted by law to examine and certify petitions—a move that defied the law and overstepped their authority.
"The city did this all because it is bent on pushing through its deeply unpopular ordinance at any cost. The subpoena threat has been withdrawn, but the mayor and the city should now do the right thing and allow the people of the Houston to decide whether to repeal the ordinance," added Stanley.
All Americans, including pastors, have the right to vote, speak, and be heard on the issues that matter most to them. The case of the Houston 5 is just a taste of what can happen when government leaders reject this right, and when unconstitutional laws like the Johnson Amendment, which gives the IRS the power to revoke a church’s tax exemption if the pastor preaches a sermon it labels as “political," are allowed to stand.
Your voice matters! Share the story of this victory for freedom on Facebook and Twitter and show what Christians can accomplish when they stand together. Then, spread the word about how to participate in these two important events this Sunday—I Stand Sunday and Pulpit Freedom Houston.
Will you join us? Comment below!
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