If the mayor can freely criticize pastors from her podium, then pastors can freely criticize her from their pulpits. It’s. The. Law.
The mayor of Houston, Annise Parker, is determined, like the Gruppenfuhrer of the Gay Gestapo that she is, to trample on every freedom enshrined in our First Amendment. She is out to shred whatever remains of religious liberty, freedom of speech, freedom of the press and the right to petition the government for the redress of grievances.
The mayor is responsible for Houston’s “bathroom bill,” which requires women to let sexually confused men use their bathrooms, locker rooms and shower facilities. Houston’s pastors opposed this egregious ordinance as something which is grossly immoral and an unconscionable invasion of women’s privacy. (If you’re looking for your “war on women,” Mayor Parker is now your commander-in-chief.)
Houston’s pastors rose up as one to oppose this grievously wrongheaded ordinance by supporting a petition drive to give the voters the opportunity to overturn it at the ballot box. The city council rejected their petition, even though it contained three times the number of signatures required. And so the pastors sued the mayor, as well they should.
The mayor, in turn, is now demanding sermon notes and all private communications on this matter from five leading Houston pastors. This of course represents a brutal pummelling of their freedoms of religion, speech and petition.
The American Family Association is squarely on the side of the Houston Five. Yesterday we sent out a press release to that effect, lamenting the grotesque violations of fundamental American freedoms of which the mayor is plainly guilty. I have repeatedly said the homosexual movement represents the greatest threat to religious freedom in our nation’s history. Houston is living proof.
I, of course, have been on record arguing that the First Amendment applies only to Congress, as its first word plainly indicates. But if I am right - and I am - this would mean that the ruling document in the Houston case should not be the federal constitution but the constitution of the state of Texas.
(As a side note, it’s worth observing that all 50 states have religious liberty protections in their own state constitutions. This is hard and fast proof that the 14th Amendment was never intended to “incorporate” the First Amendment against the states. If it did, why would any state need its own religious liberty plank at all? The question answers itself.)
And unfortunately for the nattering nabobs of negativism, the Texas constitution actually makes things worse, not better, for Mayor Parker.
Here’s how the Texas constitution reads (emphasis mine):
“All men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences...No human authority ought, in any case whatever, to control or interfere with the rights of conscience in matters of religion...” Article I, Section 6
“Every person shall be at liberty to speak, write or publish his opinions on any subject...and no law shall ever be passed curtailing the liberty of speech...” Article I, Section 8
It is thus flatly illegal and unconstitutional in Houston for any “human authority” in “any case whatever” to “interfere with the rights of conscience in matters of religion.” That’s a big “oops” for Mayor Parker, because that is precisely what she is seeking to do.
And “every person,” which of course includes every pastor in Houston and in the state of Texas, “shall be at liberty to speak, write or publish his opinions on any subject,” including bathroom bills. If the mayor can freely criticize pastors from her podium, then pastors can freely criticize her from their pulpits. It’s. The. Law.
So any way you slice it, whether you use the federal constitution or the Texas constitution, Mayor Parker is absolutely, flatly, dead wrong. She must withdraw these subpoenas, every one of them, apologize to every Houston pastor, and then immediately resign from office. No public official who so manifestly violates her oath to uphold constitutional principle has any business serving in office even one more day. Period.