The Rev. Stephen Sizer, among the most unhinged critics of Israel in the Church of England (and a go-to guy for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction movement, as well as various anti-Israel church groups in the American mainline), has apparently gone too far even for his superiors this week. On Monday, he posted a link on Facebook to a web page called “9/11 Israel Did It.” The page, on something called WikiSpooks, isn’t just a 9/11 Truther page, but is full of “Zionist” (read: Jewish) conspiracy theories and other anti-Semitic tropes.

Among other things, it makes use of a video conversation between Gordon Duff and Alan Sabrosky, two of the geniuses behind the 9/11 truther/Holocaust denial/anti-Semitic sewer calledVeterans Today.

We can also find sub-heads such as these, for those who don’t have time or patience to wade through the swill:

Four key Zionist Network assets

WTC Security In Zionist Hands

Airport Security In Israeli Hands

The US Military Knows Israel did it

Zionism and Treason

9/11 Investigation in Zionist Hands: All appointed chief judges were Zionist Jews

9/11 Commission: Zionist controlled

Zionist 9/11 Personalities: Zionist Jews in all the Right Positions!

Al Qaida = Mossad Playing Dress Up

You get the idea. Even someone skimming this articles and picking up only on the sub-heads would have known that it was full of anti-Semitic codswallop, the modern equivalent of the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” And yet Sizer posted the link, presumably because he agrees in whole or in part with it, and wanted to share it with his fans on Facebook.

Today, through the Diocese of Guildford, Sizer issued this alleged apology:

Dr Sizer said: “I very much regret and apologise for the distress caused by the sharing on Facebook of a link to an article about 9/11 from Wikispooks.

“It was particularly insensitive in that last week coincided with Holocaust Memorial Day. I removed the link as soon as I received adverse feedback, and realised that offence had been caused.

“I have never believed Israel or any other country was complicit in the terrorist atrocity of 9/11, and my sharing of this material was ill-considered and misguided.

“At the request of the Diocese, I will be suspending my use of all social media and blogs with immediate effect and until further notice.”

What a load of grade A horse twaddle. If he “never believed Israel…was complicit,” why post a link like this, to an article that has no other purpose than to try to demonstrate just that complicity? He apologizes for “insensitivity” for posting it on Holocaust Memorial Day, and for causing “distress” and “offence,” and only took it down because of “adverse feedback.” He considers the posting “ill-considered and misguided.”

No, it wasn’t “ill-considered and misguided,” Reverend. It was hateful, bigoted, shameless, and evidence of insanity.

It wasn’t “insensitive,” either. It was outrageous, disgusting, and unChristian, akin to accusing MI5 of carrying out the Omagh bombing in Northern Ireland to try to sabotage the Good Friday accords, or accusing the Chief Rabbi of Britain of arranging for the July 7, 2005 London subway bombings in order to blame Islam. It’s repulsive. And the fact that it was posted on Holocaust Memorial Day matters not one whit. It would have been just as loathsome to have done so the week before, or the week after, because it was about the timing, Reverend. It was about the pestilential content.

And please note that he didn’t take down the post because it was to a pack of vile lies–he took it down because of “adverse feedback.” In his hatred for everything Israel, he was apparently too dense to recognize the putrescent nature of the material he was “sharing” until his readers hit him across the skull with a digital two-by-four.

And what did the high mucky-mucks in Sizer’s diocese have to say about this?

The Bishop of Dorking, The Right Revd Ian Brackley said “The Diocese of Guildford is aware of reports regarding The Revd Dr Stephen Sizer and materials linked from his social media account, which have now been deleted.

“I want to reassure everyone that we are taking this complaint extremely seriously. Immediate steps are being taken to investigate and we are in contact with Dr Sizer as well as the Board of Deputies.

“The Diocese of Guildford is committed to building cohesive communities and fostering strong interfaith relations built on trust and respect.

“In 2013, The Diocese of Guildford facilitated a process of conciliation between Dr Sizer and the Board of Deputies, and is committed to ensuring this agreement is upheld.”

“The Bishop of Dorking.” If ever a man held a job title commensurate with his apparent abilities, it would be this guy. He’s going to hop right to it and investigate the hell out of this. Thanks, Bish.

What is there to investigate? A priest under your authority read, presumably understood, and then disseminated revolting hate literature. It was right there for the world to see, and he gives no evidence even now that he understands the gravity of his offense. It may make some time to charge and depose him, but investigate?

Stephen Sizer is a fetid stain upon the Church of England. He should be charged, tried, and defrocked as soon as possible, lest the stain become indelible.

(Hat tip: Jeff Walton of the Institute on Religion and Democracy.)

The state of California, in its infinite wisdom, has become the latest secular jurisdiction to decide the First Amendment doesn’t apply within its bounds. This time, the issue is abortion, and the churches of that state have found out that while they don’t have to provide insurance coverage for contraception, they do have to provide it for surgical abortion. The Federalist unveils the insanity:

For the past four years, the Obama administration and its friends on the Left were careful to claim that they still strongly support religious liberty while arguing that Hobby Lobby’s Green family, Conestoga Wood Specialties’ Hahn family, and others like them must lose. Principally, they contended, religious liberty protections could not be applied to Hobby Lobby because (1) It is a for-profit corporation, (2) It isn’t a church (and thus not a true “religious employer,” and (3) It is wrong on the science—Plan B, a copper intrauterine device, et cetera, they claimed, do not cause abortions. They implied, if not claimed outright, that they would surely support religious freedom in another case, but Hobby Lobby was unworthy to claim its protections.

The State of California is now calling their bluff. California’s Department of Managed Health Care has ordered all insurance plans in the state to immediately begin covering elective abortion. Not Plan B. Not contraceptives. Elective surgical dismemberment abortion.

At the insistence of the American Civil Liberties Union, the DMHC concluded that a 40-year-old state law requiring health plans to cover “basic health services” had been misinterpreted all these decades. Every plan in the state was immediately ordered, effective August 22, to cover elective abortion. California had not even applied this test to its own state employee health plans (which covered only “medically necessary” abortions). But this novel reading was nevertheless quietly imposed on every plan in the state by fiat.

Several other California churches have received similar notices from their insurers, and others will follow. While California (like the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, or HHS) exempts churches from its contraceptive mandate, there is no exception to this bureaucratic abortion mandate. This leaves California churches in the illogical and impossible position of being free to exclude contraceptives from their health plan for reasons of religious conscience but required to provide their employees with abortion coverage.

This California mandate is in blatant violation of federal law that specifically prohibits California from discriminating against health care plans on the basis that they do not cover abortion. Alliance Defending Freedom and Life Legal Defense Foundation have filed administrative complaints with the HHS Office of Civil Rights (which oversees this federal law) on behalf of individual employees and seven California churches forced into abortion coverage in violation of their conscience.

Kaiser Permanente is among the insurers who have contacted churches about this bureaucratic nightmare. Here’s the Catch-22 part: if churches refuse to accept this, the result will not be jack-booted thugs banging on the door at midnight. It will simply be that insurance companies will cancel their health insurance, thus leaving tens of thousands of people either at risk for financial ruin, or forced on the federal exchange, where they will also be required to help subsidize other people’s abortions.

I can’t imagine what form of civil disobedience would be effective against this kind of evil, so I hope the courts have not completely lost their minds and will protect California churches from the Molech worship in which the state wishes to enlist them.

I saw this over the weekend, and given the peculiar circumstances I wanted to give it some thought before posting. Having done so, my conclusion is that, yep, the gay fascists are seeking to run over the First Amendment again. This time, it’s in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, of all places:

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed a federal lawsuit and a motion for a temporary restraining order Friday to stop officials in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, from forcing two ordained Christian ministers to perform wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples.

City officials told Donald Knapp that he and his wife Evelyn, both ordained ministers who run Hitching Post Wedding Chapel, are required to perform such ceremonies or face months in jail and/or thousands of dollars in fines. The city claims its “non-discrimination” ordinance requires the Knapps to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies now that the courts have overridden Idaho’s voter-approved constitutional amendment that affirmed marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

The Hitching Post Wedding Chapel is across the street from the Kootenai County Clerk’s office, which issues marriage licenses. The Knapps, both in their 60s and who themselves have been married for 47 years, began operating the wedding chapel in 1989 as a ministry. They perform religious wedding ceremonies, which include references to God, the invocation of God’s blessing on the union, brief remarks drawn from the Bible designed to encourage the couple and help them to have a successful marriage, and more. They also provide each couple they marry with a CD that includes two sermons about marriage, and they recommend numerous Christian books on the subject. The Knapps charge a small fee for their services.

Coeur d’Alene officials told the Knapps privately and also publicly stated that the couple would violate the city’s public accommodations statute once same-sex marriage became legal in Idaho if they declined to perform a same-sex ceremony at their chapel. On Friday, the Knapps respectfully declined such a ceremony and now face up to 180 days in jail and up to $1,000 in fines for each day they decline to perform that ceremony.

I’m not a big fan of wedding chapels from a Christian standpoint, but that’s irrelevant. What is relevant is 1) that the Knapps are Christian ministers, ordained and performing a recognizably Christian ministry; 2) the ceremonies they conduct are specifically religious in nature, rather than secular, as they make clear here and here; and 3) this is not just about a building, but about the persons who run the organization.

This is getting very close to the situation we were assured would never happen, where churches are forced to perform same-sex weddings regardless of religious convictions or moral objections. The Hitching Post is not a church (it’s a for-profit business), but its religious mission is impossible to overlook (just like lots of other for-profit religious businesses like independent publishers such as Thomas Nelson or Zondervan). Moreover, the only persons allowed to conduct weddings at the hitching Post are the employees who are ordained ministers, who state up-front that they are conducting Christian ceremonies. Once these facts are established, I don’t see how being a for-profit makes the slightest bit of First Amendment difference–remember, the principle that religious organizations are non-profits is an artifact of the tax code, not the Constitution. Furthermore, the city is not just ordering the Knapps to make their facilities available, but seeking to require Christian ministers to perform religious ceremonies that are contrary to their religious beliefs. The only way this would be a clearer violation of the First Amendment is if the Knapps were leading an actual church, but the facts of the situation are such that I don’t really think that’s a significant difference.

The courts will get this next, but I am no longer sanguine about the likelihood of justice prevailing. Right up to the U.S. Supreme Court, federal courts nationwide have adopted Justice Anthony Kennedy’s absurd formulation that opposition to gay marriage stems not from millenia-old religious and moral convictions, but are simply motivated by “animus” no different from racial hatred. If that’s the case, the courts will conclude there’s no reason to treat traditional Christians who seek exemption from anti-discrimination laws and differently than they do the KKK.

Exit question: Is it time, at the very least, for Christian churches to stop allowing non-members to use facilities for weddings, and for pastors to stop performing weddings for non-members?

Mayor Annise Parker of Houston, who has now apparently been fully informed about what a private law firm has been doing in the name of her city, has announced that the city has made a meaningless change in its fishing expedition. The subpoenas sent to five Houston pastors seeking a variety of communications with their parishioners no longer include the word “sermons,” according to the Houston Chronicle:

Mayor Annise Parker on Friday followed through on her pledge to narrow the scope of subpoenas sent to local pastors who led opposition to the city’s equal rights ordinance earlier this year.

Though the subpoena’s new wording removes any mention of “sermons” — a reference that created a firestorm among Christian conservative groups and politicians, including Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, who accused Parker of trying “to silence the church” — the mayor acknowledged the new subpoenas do not explicitly preclude sermons from being produced.

That’s because all of that other stuff I mentioned in my last post is still in there, including “speeches,” which, as any idiot knows, includes sermons as a sub-category.

“We don’t need to intrude on matters of faith to have equal rights in Houston, and it was never the intention of the city of Houston to intrude on any matters of faith or to get between a pastor and their parishioners,” Parker said. “We don’t want their sermons, we want the instructions on the petition process. That’s always what we wanted and, again, they knew that’s what we wanted because that’s the subject of the lawsuit.”

Of course, if that’s what they wanted, that’s what they should have asked for. Instead, they asked for any written material that might have contained, not just references to the petition process, but to the mayor, the city secretary, the city attorney, homosexuality, gender identity, civil rights, equal rights, etc. Most of that would have had nothing to do with the subject of the lawsuit, which is whether the city attorney has the authority on his own to overrule the election board and disqualify enough signatures to get the question off the ballot.The way the subpoena is worded, I would assume that any communication that contained a sentence such as “The mayor opposes the petition” would have had to be turned over, despite its otherwise complete irrelevance.

Whether the mayor “needed” to intrude on religious freedom, of course, is beside the point. She and her legal eagles did so, without any compelling state interest at stake.

Though the subpoenas still cover speeches or presentations related to HERO, Parker stressed the filing was “not about HERO, it’s about the petitions.”

“If during the course of the sermon — and I doubt this very much — a pastor took 15 or 20 minutes to go into detail about how the petition process goes, then that’s part of the discovery,” she said. “But that’s not about preaching a sermon on anybody’s religious beliefs, it’s not conveying a religious message, that’s part of the petition process, and all we’re interested in is the petition process.”

Sorry, mayor. Under the First Amendment, which I assume still applies in Houston, you don’t get to decide what constitutes a “religious message.” You want that power, move to China.

I love Israel, and think Jerusalem is the coolest place on Earth. Ebola is a worry, for sure, especially with the incompetent and politicized way our government is dealing with it. But John Hagee, America’s most prominent “Christian Zionist,” really should just shut his pie hole:

Ebola may be part of God’s judgment for President Barack Obama’s alleged attempts to “divide Jerusalem,” said John Hagee, a San Antonio-based pastor and founder of Christians United For Israel.

Citing the Book of Joel, the televangelist took to Tuesday’s broadcast of the “Hagee Hotline” to tell listeners that “our president is dead set on dividing Jerusalem. God is watching and he will bring America into judgment,” according to the left-leaning Right Wing Watch.

“There are grounds to say that judgment has already begun, because he, the president, has been fighting to divide Jerusalem for years now,” Hagee said in a YouTube video posted by Right Wing Watch.

“We are now experiencing the crisis of Ebola,” he said.

Hagee, who heads Cornerstone Church, added that threats from Islamic radicals and ongoing unrest in Ferguson, Missouri are all part of God’s judgment on the United States in response to Obama’s policies.

To say that people like Hagee bring disrepute upon the Christian faith when they make pronouncements like this is being generous. People who claim to know exactly what God’s specific actions are in response to specific human events are at least borderline blasphemous, and definitely Gnostic, by claiming that they know the mind of God in a way that the rest of us can’t. For them, the Scripture is just window-dressing for their politics, and God is simply their political consultant as they pursue their agendas. It’s as bad when done by conservatives as it is when its done by liberals, if not worse, since conservatives should know better.

There has been an outpouring of outrage over the subpoenas issued by the city of Houston to several local pastors for sermons and private communications with their churches. Late today, the city decided to plead incompetence, ignorance, illiteracy, or a combination of all three,according to the Houston Chronicle:

Amid outrage from religious groups, Mayor Annise Parker and City Attorney David Feldman on Wednesday appeared to back off a subpoena request for the sermons of certain ministers opposed to the city’s equal rights ordinance, with Parker calling it overly broad.

The subpoenas, handed down to five pastors and religious leaders last month, came to light this week when attorneys for the group of pastors filed a motion to quash the request. Though Feldman stood behind the subpoena in an interview Tuesday, he and Parker said during the Mayor’s weekly press conference Wednesday that the wording was problematic.

Feldman is monitoring the case, he said, but had not seen the subpoena written by outside counsel working pro-bono for the city until this week. Parker said she also did not know about the request until this week.

Have to wonder: does the city of Houston, the fourth largest in the United States, normally farm out sensitive city legal business to outside lawyers, and then not bother to read what’s been submitted in its name by them?

“There’s no question the wording was overly broad,” she said. “But I also think there was some misinterpretation on the other side.”

Umm, that would be no:

YOU ARE COMMANDED to appear and produce and permit inspection and copying of the documents identified in the attached “Exhibit A” at the offices of SUSMAN GODFREY LLP, 1000 Louisiana Street, Suite 5100, Houston Texas 77002, on October 10,2014 by 5PM.


3. “Document” and “documents,” mean all documents and tangible things, in the broadest sense allowed by Rule 192.3(b) and comment 2 of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, and include, but are not limited to, any writings, drawings, graphs, charts, photographs, phonograph records, tape recordings, notes, diaries, calendars, checkbooks, books, papers, accounts, electronic or videotape recordings, and any computer-generated, computer-stored, or electronically-stored matter that constitute or contain matters relevant to the subject matter of this lawsuit. The terms include, but are not limited to, emails, instant messages, text messages, or other responsive data or information that exists in electronic or magnetic form, and such responsive data should be produced pursuant to Rule 196.4 of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure.

4. “Communications” means every direct or indirect disclosure, receipt, transfer, or exchange of information, inquiry or opinion, however made, whether oral, visual, in writing or otherwise, including without limitation any conversation or discussion by means of letter, note, package, invoice, statement, notice, memorandum, inter-office correspondence, telephone, telegraph, email, telex, telecopies, text message, instant message, cable communicating data processors, or some other electronic or other medium.

10. You are to produce all documents, as defined above, that are in Your possession, control or custody or in the possession, control or custody of any attorney for You. Without limiting the term “control,” a document is deemed to be within Your control if You have ownership, possession or custody of the document, or the right to secure the document or copy thereof from any person or public or private entity having physical possession thereof.

11. All duplicates or copies of documents are to be provided to the extent they have handwriting, additions, or deletions of any kind different from the original document being produced.


1. All documents or communications to, from, CCing, BCCing, or forwarded to you, or otherwise in your possession, relating or referring to any of the following in connection in any way with HERO, the Petition:
a. Plaintiffs,
b. Annise Parker or the Mayor’s office,
c. Anna Russell or the City Secretary’s office,
d. David Feldman or the City Attorney’s office,
e. HERO or any drafts of HERO,
f. the Petition, or any drafts of the Petition, including any discussions relating to the language included at the top of the Petition,
g. the legal requirements for petitions under Texas, Houston municipal, or any other law,
h. Petition signers,
i. Petition Circulators,
j. affidavits filled out by Petition Circulators, including the notarization of the affidavits,
k. the payment of Petition Circulators,
l. funding of the Petition or petition drives,
m. the topics of equal rights, civil rights, homosexuality, or gender identity,
n. language relating to restroom access,
o. language related to restroom access being or having been removed from a version of HERO, including any communications related to the removal of that language,
p. any discussion about whether or how HERO does or does not impact restroom access.
2. All communications to or from Plaintiffs.
3. All communications with the City regarding HERO or the Petition.
4. All communications with members of your congregation regarding HERO or the Petition.
5. All communications with Joe La Rue or anyone else at the “Alliance Defending Freedom” regarding HERO or the Petition.
6. All drafts of the Petition.
7. All lists of Petition Circulators.
8. All communications to or from Petition Circulators.
9. Any documents relating to the payment of Petition Circulators, including but not limited to:
10 a. budgets related to the payment of Petition Circulators,
b. check stubs or check registers reflecting payments to Petition Circulators,
c. copies of checks made out to Petition Circulators,
d. tax forms relating to the payment of Petition circulators,
e. documents explaining calculation of payment to Petition Circulators,
f. documents referencing incentives given to Petition Circulators for obtaining
certain numbers of signatures or completing a certain number of pages.
10. Any documents relating to funding and funding sources of the Petition and Petition-related activities.
11. All training materials prepared for Petition Circulators or anyone else involved in the collection of any signatures for the Petition.
12. All speeches, presentations, or sermons related to HERO, the Petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity prepared by, delivered by, revised by, or approved by you or in your possession.
13. All documents, studies, information, communications, or other data relied on in connection with the Petition to check, confirm, or ensure the truthfulness and accuracy of the statements made in the Petition, including but not limited to the statements in the Petition (or in any training materials prepared for Petition Circulators or anyone else involved in the collection of any signatures for the Petition) that “Biological males ARE IN FACT allowed to enter women’s restrooms in Houston under Mayor Annise Parker’s “Equal Rights Ordinance”, thereby threatening the physical and emotional safety of our women and children!” and that “Her ERO creates UNequal Rights for a tiny group of people by taking away rights of safety and privacy for the vast majority of our women and children!”) (emphasis in original).
14. All documents, studies, information, communications, or other data that you believe support or demonstrate the truthfulness and accuracy of the statements made in the Petition, including but not limited to the statements in the Petition (or in any training materials prepared for Petition Circulators or anyone else involved in the collection of any signatures for the Petition) that “Biological males ARE IN FACT allowed to enter women’s restrooms in
Houston under Mayor Annise Parker’s “Equal Rights Ordinance”, thereby threatening the physical and emotional safety of our women and children!” and that “Her ERO creates UNequal Rights for a tiny group of people by taking away rights of safety and privacy for the vast majority of our women and children!”) (emphasis in original).
15. All communications with Pastor Dave Welch or anyone else at or associated with the Houston Area Pastor Council referring or relating to HERO, restroom access in connection with HERO, the Petition, or this litigation.
16. All documents or communications reflecting or relating to the validity of signatures on the Petition or the validity of any Petition Pages, including but not limited to correspondence, notes, spreadsheets, or other documents regarding:
a. the validity of signatures,
b. the registered-voter status of any signatories,
c. the number of valid signatures,
d. the validity of Petition pages,
e. the validity of Circulator Oaths.
17. Your updated resume or curriculum vitae.

I’m no lawyer, but I can read English, and there’s no question that the city is looking to collect material from non-plaintiffs that it can then use in court to smear those who supported the petition (the purpose of which would have been to put repeal of the ordinance before city voters).

“Let me just say that one word in a very long legal document which I know nothing about and would never have read and I’m vilified coast to coast,” Parker said. “It’s a normal day at the office for me.”

Sorry, Mayor. The law firm acts in the name of the city you govern, you own it.

The intent, Feldman said, was simply to get all communications between pastors about the signature gathering instructions, a key part of a lawsuit opponents have brought against the city. Critics filed suit after Feldman announced they had failed to gather enough valid signatures to force a repeal referendum, claiming the city attorney illegally inserted himself in the signature verification process.

That’s a blatant lie. The communications sought were not just about “signature gathering instructions.” They were, instead, an attempt to gather materials that would expose what the mayor and her cronies abviously consider to be the Neanderthal, homophobic attitudes of people who supported the petition. If that was not the case, why ask for stuff like “All speeches, presentations, or sermons related to HERO, the Petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity,” or “all documents and communications…[dealing with] the topics of equal rights, civil rights, homosexuality, or gender identity”? Those items are not about the petition gathering process, but about the petitioners’ motivations for opposing the ordinance.

Feldman said the city would clarify what it is looking for in its response to the pastors’ motion.

“I wouldn’t have worded it that way myself,” Feldman said of the request. “It’s unfortunate that it has been construed as some effort to infringe upon religious beliefs.”

Translation: “Curses, foiled again! &$@* Christians!”

Remember Åke Green, the Swedish pastor who was threatened with jail time for preaching a sermon against homosexual behavior back in 2004? No one has ever confused Houston with Sweden, but as the city seeks to defend in court its Equal Rights Ordinance (which, among other things, gave mentally ill men carte blanche to use women’s bathrooms), it is demanding that several prominent Houston pastors turn over sermons to city attorneys for some unknown purpose. The Alliance Defending Freedom is on the case, and released the following press release yesterday:

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys have filed a motion in a Texas court to stop an attempt by the city of Houston to subpoena sermons and other communications belonging to several area pastors in a lawsuit in which the pastors are not even involved.

City officials are upset over a voter lawsuit filed after the city council rejected valid petitions to repeal a law that allows members of the opposite sex into each other’s restrooms. ADF attorneys say the city is illegitimately demanding that the pastors, who are not party to the lawsuit, turn over their constitutionally protected sermons and other communications simply so the city can see if the pastors have ever opposed or criticized the city.

“City council members are supposed to be public servants, not ‘Big Brother’ overlords who will tolerate no dissent or challenge,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Erik Stanley. “In this case, they have embarked upon a witch-hunt, and we are asking the court to put a stop to it.”

“The city’s subpoena of sermons and other pastoral communications is both needless and unprecedented,” said ADF Litigation Counsel Christiana Holcomb. “The city council and its attorneys are engaging in an inquisition designed to stifle any critique of its actions. Political and social commentary is not a crime; it is protected by the First Amendment.”

In June, the Houston City Council passed its “bathroom bill,” which sparked a citizen initiative to have the council either repeal the bill or place it on the ballot for voters to decide. The public submitted more than three times the legally required number of valid signatures, which the city secretary, who is entrusted by law to examine and certify petitions, certified as sufficient. The mayor and city attorney defied the law and rejected the certification.

After the initiative supporters filed a lawsuit, Woodfill v. Parker, over the matter, the city’s attorneys subpoenaed a number of area pastors, demanding to see what they preach from the pulpit and to examine their communications with their church members and others concerning the city council’s actions.

The ADF brief accompanying the motion filed in the District Court of Harris County to quash the subpoena “discovery requests” explains that they are “overbroad, unduly burdensome, harassing, and vexatious,” irrelevant to the lawsuit, and will have a profoundly negative effect on free speech and the electoral process should they be allowed to move forward.

“The message is clear: oppose the decisions of city government, and drown in unwarranted, burdensome discovery requests,” the brief states. “These requests, if allowed, will have a chilling effect on future citizens who might consider circulating referendum petitions because they are dissatisfied with ordinances passed by the City Council. Not only will the Nonparty Pastors be harmed if these discovery requests are allowed, but the People will suffer as well. The referendum process will become toxic and the People will be deprived of an important check on city government provided them by the Charter.”

This is so brazenly unconstitutional that I can’t believe any court will honor the request. But just the fact that there are government officials who think that this is a proper thing to do does not bode well for religious freedom in a country that is becoming more and more hostile to traditional faith, or indeed any form of religious expression that does not march in lockstep with the Zeitgeist.


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