Last week, Family Research Council and others publicly called for the state of Georgia to back down from its intrusive request that Dr. Eric Walsh turn over his sermons and other religious materials to the state as part of an ongoing lawsuit.
After a public outcry, the state attorney general’s office withdrew its request for sermons. However, the AG is still demanding that Dr. Walsh turn over a number of things which should be off-limits, including:
- A validation of Dr. Walsh’s credentials as a minister
- Proof that Dr. Walsh has served as a minister with the Seventh-day Adventist denomination
- All contracts Dr. Walsh has, or has ever had, with the Seventh-day Adventist Church
- A report to the State of Georgia on how—and how much—he has been compensated for producing and delivering his sermons
Such intrusive government overreach is completely unacceptable. Our freedoms don’t permit the state to assess a minister’s credentials. The government may not inquire into discussions and agreements between a religious denomination and its leader. And what legitimate reason could the state have for wanting to know how much (if anything) Dr. Walsh was paid for preaching?
The ridiculousness of this discovery request only underscores the outlandish nature of this entire lawsuit. The State of Georgia hired a man as its public health director, but then fired him after reviewing his sermons. Why the state thought that was a good idea, or why a man was fired for the content of his preaching in the first place, remains a mystery. Then the state only compounded its error by requesting, as part of the lawsuit, copies of his sermons and other religious materials.
While withdrawing the request for sermons is a welcome development, Governor Deal and the state of Georgia need to fix the wrong done to Dr. Walsh that led to this lawsuit in the first place. Governor Deal’s administration, from its rejection of religious liberty legislation to its appointment of officials who have created this mess for Dr. Walsh, has permitted an environment to fester in which government officials think these types of actions are acceptable. Governor Deal should actively work to resolve this matter, and restore Dr. Walsh’s career immediately.
For those who remain steadfast in refusing to believe religious liberty is an important issue this election, look no further than the case of Eric Walsh.
Sign our petition in support of Dr. Walsh at Frc.org/Walsh.