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ICC Note: The city of Houston and it’s mayor have fallen under scathing criticism this week for attempting to subpoena sermons and other communications from multiple church pastors on the topic of homosexuality. The subpoena came as a part of a legal battle over the cities attempt to allow individuals to use public restrooms of the opposite gender based on their own perceived “gender identity.” Several area churches gathered more than 50,000 signatures demanding the issue be put to a public referendum, but the petition was dismissed by the city for “irregularities.” The conflict is just one of many areas where attempts are being made to push traditional Christian values out of the public sphere in the United States. 

10/15/2014 United States (Washington Times) – After calling church sermons “fair game” for subpoena, Houston Mayor Annise Parker backed down Wednesday from the city’s effort to force local pastors to turn over speeches and papers related to a hotly contested transgender rights ordinance.

The city had asked five pastors for “all speeches, presentations, or sermons” on a variety of topics, including the mayor, and “gender identity.”

The subpoena prompted a storm of criticism when it became public Tuesday. The pastors are involved in legal efforts to overturn the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, also known as the “bathroom bill.”

The pastors and their allies called the city’s broad demand a threat to religious freedom and proof that gay and transgender rights bills can be used as weapons to demonize Christianity.

“The government has no business asking pastors to turn over their sermons,” said Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican.

Ms. Parker’s office initially doubled down in the face of such criticism but issued a statement late Wednesday saying the mayor “agrees with those who are concerned about the city legal department’s subpoenas for pastors’ sermons.”

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