Houston Mayor Refiles Pastor Subpoenas, Retains Demand for Communications With Threat of Fines, Jail

CONTACT: J.P. Duffy or Alice Chao, (866) FRC-NEWS or (866)-372-6397

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Family Research Council President Tony Perkins made the following statements after Houston Mayor Annise Parker agreed to revise subpoenas against pastors that drop the word "sermons" but retain the demand for 17 different categories of information - including speeches by the pastors, emails, text messages and other private communications within the church:

"This head-fake might fool some, but the reality is, Mayor Parker didn't need a subpoena to access those sermons in the first place.  They were already public.  In this 'new' filing, the Mayor still insists on seeing private emails, texts, and other communications related to the Mayor's office and the city's 'bathroom bill.' While two words - 'or sermons' - are dropped from the 'revised' subpoena, the government intrusion into private religious affairs remains.  The 'revised' subpoena is a difference without a distinction.  

"Obviously, Houston's leadership has one goal-and information gathering isn't it.  This is about political intimidation.  But if the Mayor was hoping to scare off these churches, she'll have to try harder.   Every pastor I've spoken to would go to jail before surrendering their God-given rights to preach the Truth free from government harassment and intimidation.

"Houston has become a rallying cry for freedom-loving Americans tired of seeing their laws and liberties casually tossed aside in a stampede.  This is why more than 38,000 people have signed our petition in the last two days, standing with the Houston pastors and calling on Mayor Parker to immediately retract these unconstitutional and unconscionable demands," concluded Perkins.

The petition can be accessed at www.frc.org/Houston