Article Oct 15, 2014

#4Houston5: Stand with Houston pastors

Will you join churches in Texas and across the country in responding to the stunning religious liberty violations happening in Houston? 

Everything's bigger in TX including the troubling developments in Houston as city attorneys have issued subpoenas to ministers who have been vocal in opposition to the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), a measure which deals with gender identity and sexuality in public accommodations. The subpoenas, issued to five ministers, seek “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.”

In an effort to intimidate churches from advocating for a biblical view of sexuality, the city of Houston has taken unconstitutional actions that set a dangerous precedent for future religious freedom violations. If your church is any like mine, you are already starting to get many questions about this situation from your congregation.

How can your church join with these Hispanic, Anglo, and Asian congregations, including a Vietnamese Southern Baptist Church, targeted by this bureaucratic bullying? Here are several ways:

  • Preach: Would you consider how to address this issue with your church this Sunday, either by preaching a sermon on marriage and sexuality or taking a few minutes to address the Houston situation at some point during your service?
  • Pray: Would you lead your people to pray for the ministers impacted by this subpoena as well as for protection for religious liberty throughout our nation?
  • Educate: Would you educate your church on religious liberty and why it is worth standing for and why this action in Houston is unacceptable? A great resource to point them to is ERLC President Russell Moore's article "Houston, We Have a Constitution."
  • Send: If the Houston Mayor's office wants sermons on marriage and sexuality, let's give them what they want! Print out your sermon manuscript or notes from a sermon on marriage or sexuality, snap a picture and post it on social media with the hashtag #4Houston5, and mail it to the Mayor's office at:

Mayor Annise D. Parker
City of Houston
P.O. Box 1562
Houston, TX 77251

The way churches respond to this situation will set a pattern for how religious liberty issues are addressed in the future. In the words of Russell Moore, "The separation of church and state means that we will render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s, and we will. But the preaching of the church of God does not belong to Caesar, and we will not hand it over to him. Not now. Not ever."

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