There’s something crazy going on in Houston.
To make a long story short, some pastors publicly came against a city ordinance that would allow men into women’s restrooms and women into men’s restrooms. There was a big hullabaloo, lawsuits, yada, yada, yada.
Then the Mayor and the City issued a subpoena to the pastors involved mandating the pastors turn over all sermons relating to the ordinance, homosexuality, and the mayor (Houston’s first openly lesbian mayor).
The response of the Conservative Right has been one of righteous indignation. “How can the government try to coerce a faith group like this?!?”
And so the pastors have refused to comply and conservatives are rallying around them.
I agree with them. And I disagree with them.
I Agree – I think we’re on dangerous ground when the government threatens and coerces faith groups based and tries to silence speech. This applies to any faith group. The premise of religious freedom is that we are allowed to speak what we believe – even if you disagree with it. I may not agree with your religion, but religious freedom protects all religions from speaking their beliefs – even if that religion publicly disapproves of alternative lifestyles. The mayor and city made a stupid decision to threaten and coerce ministers into silence.
I Disagree – WHY ON EARTH WOULD ANY PASTOR BE UNWILLING TO TURN OVER SERMONS?!? THAT’S WHAT WE DO! We give public presentations of the Gospel SO THAT people will hear. Christians are on dangerous ground when we refuse to speak our beliefs that might get us into trouble.
I’m reminded of the early apostles in the Bible. The religious authorities arrested them and told the apostles to stop preaching about Jesus. Even with imprisonment, flogging, and horrible injustice, the apostles knew that their calling to preach superseded any threat.
When the mayor and city called for the sermons, pastors should have jumped at the chance and said to the world, “Here! Have them all!” (not to mention that SO many churches have their sermons publicly broadcast and archived online – the city probably didn’t even NEED a subpoena).
So where does that leave us?
It leaves us with government officials who are overstepping their power as elected leaders of a democratic republic. They need to be kept in check and NOT threaten or coerce religious groups into keeping silent.
It leave Christians with a stark reminder that this world is going to turn against us when we stand up and preach the truth. That doesn’t mean we should hide behind legalities and barriers. When the world directly asks, “What do you believe and preach?” we ought to be standing up and say, “Here it is!”
Jesus didn’t promise us easy times. He promised us difficulty.
Pastors of Houston – give them your sermons. If you want I’ll send you a few of mine to add to the pile.Follow @chrislinzey