HOUSTON (CBS Houston/AP) — U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz says the city of Houston has no legal or moral authority to subpoena sermons from pastors who may have opposed the city’s equal rights ordinance from their pulpits.
The Texas Republican, invoking a biblical reference Thursday at Houston’s 1st Baptist Church, says Caesar has no jurisdiction over the pulpit.
“The City of Houston’s subpoenas demanding that pastors provide the government with copies of their sermons is both shocking and shameful,” Cruz said in a statement. “For far too long, the federal government has led an assault against religious liberty, and now, sadly, my hometown of Houston is joining the fight. This is wrong. It’s unbefitting of Texans, and it’s un-American.”
Christian activists have sued after city officials ruled they didn’t collect enough signatures on petitions to put a referendum on the ballot to repeal the ordinance championed by Houston’s gay mayor, Annise Parker.
Parker and city attorneys have acknowledged the subpoenas may have been poorly written but so far have not withdrawn them.
Cruz calls the subpoenas stunning and unconstitutional.
“The government has no business asking pastors to turn over their sermons. These subpoenas are a grotesque abuse of power, and the officials who approved them should be held accountable by the people. The Mayor should be ashamed. And we should all be proud to stand up and defend the pastors who are resisting these blatant attempts to suppress their First Amendment rights.”
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