Who dares to disagree with her?
Annise Parker demands to know.
They will be found out. They may be prosecuted. They will most assuredly be persecuted.
Pastors – ministers of the Gospel – were ordered by legal subpoena to turn over their sermons.
That’s right – their sermons – to the courts for careful inspection.
This didn’t happen in Russia or in North Korea or in Iran.
It happened in Houston, Texas – in the buckle of the Bible Belt. It happened in the land of the free.
It happened in Thomas Jefferson’s America.
Annise Parker, the openly – gay mayor of Houston, couldn’t stand the fact that five pastors in her city have the temerity to oppose a city ordinance, known as “the bathroom ordinance.” This latest step toward legitimizing the bizarre permits transgendered people – those uncertain and/or unhappy about their sexual physiology – to be able to use the restrooms of their choice.
Quite understandably, some Houstonians object to this. Not because they are angry bigots but because they are intelligent people – and because even craziness must have its limits.
The ministers supported a petition drive to place the ordinance on the ballot so all Houston voters could have their say on this controversy.
That seems fair enough.
City officials questioned some of the petition signatures so the referendum proponents went to court to have the question placed on the local ballot.
Keep in mind that the pastors were not part of this lawsuit.
Instead of questioning the legality of the signatures, city lawyers went after the ministers.
Originally the pastors were ordered to turn over “all speeches, presentations, or sermons related to the Petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity.”
That’s a wide swath.
Everything they had ever said or written about these subjects would now be scrutinized.
Every jot and tittle.
In the face of a very loud public outcry, the city’s lawyers amended their demand.
Now they only want “all speeches or presentations related to” the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance “, or the Petition, prepared by, delivered by, revised by, or approved by” the pastors or in their possession.
Well, that’s a relief!
These deniers of free speech and religious liberty now only want “all speeches or presentations” made by the pastors.
What is a sermon if not a speech and a presentation?
Is this not a distinction without a difference?
The troubling audacity of this demand is rivaled only by its comic imbecility.
Every authentic civil libertarian – including those who are gay or transgendered – should be appalled by this callous and arrogant trampling of the First Amendment.
Every true lover of liberty must be outraged at this naked attempt to intimidate free speech.
And every Christian in this country should be awakened from his complacency, chastened for his ignorance and spirited by his courage.
The Apostle Paul told the Christians living in a wicked and perverse time:
“Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong” (I Corinthians 16:13, NKJV).
The Houston Five have done this. Who will join them?
Mayor Parker tweeted that if pastors speak out on questions of morality and seek to influence their direction, then their sermons “are fair game” to the government.
And it’s not just their sermons that are under assault, but – by logical extension – their convictions, their beliefs; their very faith.
It’s hastening sooner than expected, this hour of choosing.
Not only for five pastors in Houston – but for us all.
This incident is not some over-zealous aberration. It’s a precursor.
The powerful movement to redefine morality in America seeks not simply tolerance or acceptance. It has already largely achieved that with breathtaking speed. To salve a guilty conscience – for Nature itself can never rescind its own teaching – these advocates of cultural enlightenment seek approval.
They seek moral parity.
They demand that the rest of us openly renounce our beliefs, admit we’ve been wrong all this time, and apologize.
They will stop at nothing less.
Mayor Parker is the one who owes Houston an apology – and her resignation. Any elected official driven more by a passion for her agenda and a hatred for her adversaries than a respect for the Constitution of the United States is unfit for public office.
The God who stood by the prophet Elijah on Mount Carmel is the God who stands by us. The God who protected Daniel and the three young Hebrews in their quiet civil disobedience is the same God who guides our steps and secures our way.
He will give us the courage and the strength to stand for him.
You and I must first be willing to do that.
When city officials ordered them not to preach Christianity, Peter and John replied “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29, KJV).
The implications of this higher allegiance are profound and often costly. The soil of the church has been soaked by the blood of the martyrs.
And today believers in the Middle East have been given a choice: renounce their faith or suffer the sword.
Silent neutrality – and a “cheap grace” – will win us the nodding approval of those who know we pose no threat to their purposes.
God help us to take sides.
May God bless you and your family.