ICC Note: Governor Greg Abbott of Texas recently signed into law the “Sermon Safeguard Bill” which prevents the government from summoning sermons for investigation through subpoenas. The matter arose in 2014 when the mayor of Houston requested sermons from local pastors in the midst of controversy surrounding the “bathroom bill.” The new law prevents the government from demanding any written, audio, or video copies of sermons in any religious context.
By Heather Clark
05/24/2017 United States (Christian News Network) – The governor of Texas has signed into law a bill that prevents the government from subpoenaing copies of sermons or questioning pastors about the content of their messages.
“Texas law now will be your strength and your sword and your shield,” Gov. Greg Abbott declared during a ceremony at Grace Church of the Woodlands. “You will be shielded by any effort by any other government official in any other part of the state of Texas from having subpoenas to try to pry into what you’re doing here in your churches.”
Senate Bill 24 was birthed following the 2014 controversy surrounding Houston Mayor Annise Parker, who had requested copies of sermons and other material from several area pastors as part of the discovery phase of a lawsuit over a petition seeking to repeal the city’s “bathroom bill.”
As previously reported, attorneys for Parker, an open lesbian, asked for “all speeches, presentations, or sermons related to [the bathroom bill], the petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity…”
A motion was soon filed in turn to stop the city from scrutinizing the speech of area pastors, which caused Parker’s attorneys to alter their demands.
The clergy members who were the subject of the city’s discovery requests then sued Parker for “trampl[ing] on the rights of one million Houston citizens” through the subpoena requests.