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    • By Jim_Alaska in Jim_Alaska's Sermons & Devotionals
         14
      Closed Communion
      James Foley
       
      I Corinthians 11:17-34: "Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse. For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you. When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's Supper. For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken. What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not. For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till he come. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another. And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation. And the rest will I set in order when I come."

      INTRODUCTION

      Historic Baptists, true Baptists, have believed in and still believe in closed communion. Baptists impose upon themselves the same restrictions that they impose on others concerning the Lord’s Supper. Baptists have always insisted that it is the Lord’s Table, not theirs; and He alone has the right to say who shall sit at His table. No amount of so called brotherly love, or ecumenical spirit, should cause us to invite to His table those who have not complied with the requirements laid down plainly in His inspired Word. With respect to Bible doctrines we must always use the scripture as our guide and practice. For Baptists, two of the most important doctrines are Baptism and The Lord’s Supper. These are the only two doctrines we recognize as Church Ordinances. The Bible is very clear in teaching how these doctrines are to be practiced and by whom.

      We only have two ordinances that we must never compromise or we risk our very existence, they are Baptism and The Lord’s Supper.

      The moment we deviate from the precise method God has prescribed we have started down the slippery slope of error. True Baptists have held fast to the original doctrine of The Lord’s Supper from the time of Christ and the Apostles.

      Unfortunately, in this day of what the Bible describes as the age of luke warmness, Baptists are becoming careless in regard to strictly following the pattern laid out for us in Scripture. Many of our Bible colleges are graduating otherwise sincere, Godly and dedicated pastors and teachers who have not been taught the very strict, biblical requirements that surround the Lord’s Supper. Any Bible college that neglects to teach its students the differences surrounding Closed Communion, Close Communion and Open Communion is not simply short changing its students; it is also not equipping their students to carry on sound Bible traditions. The result is men of God and churches that fall into error. And as we will see, this is serious error.

      Should we as Baptists ignore the restrictions made by our Lord and Master? NO! When we hold to the restrictions placed upon the Lord’s Supper by our Master, we are defending the "faith which was once delivered to the saints" Jude 3.

      The Lord’s Supper is rigidly restricted and I will show this in the following facts:

      IT IS RESTRICTED AS TO PLACE

      A. I Corinthians 11:18 says, "When ye come together in the church." This does not mean the church building; they had none. In other words, when the church assembles. The supper is to be observed by the church, in church capacity. Again this does not mean the church house. Ekklesia, the Greek word for church, means assembly. "When ye come together in the church," is when the church assembles.

      B. When we say church we mean an assembly of properly baptized believers. Acts 2:41-42: "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers."

      The church is made up of saved people who are baptized by immersion. In the Bible, belief precedes baptism. That’s the Bible way.

      Acts 8:12-13, "But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done."

      When we say properly baptized, we mean immersed. No unbeliever should take the Lord’s supper, and no non-immersed believer should take the supper. Those who are sprinkled are not baptized and cannot receive the supper. The Greek word for baptize is baptizo, and it always means to immerse.

      "In every case where communion is referred to, or where it may possibly have been administered, the believers had been baptized Acts 2:42; 8:12; 8:38; 10:47; 6:14-15; 18:8; 20:7. Baptism comes before communion, just as repentance and faith precede baptism".

      C. The Lord’s Supper is for baptized believers in church capacity: "When ye come together in the church," again not a building, but the assembly of the properly baptized believers.

      D. The fact that the Lord’s Supper is a church ordinance, to be observed in church capacity, is pointed out by the fact that it is for those who have been immersed and added to the fellowship of the church.

      E. The Lord’s Supper is never spoken of in connection with individuals. When it is referred to, it is only referred to in reference to baptized believers in local church capacity I Cor. 11:20-26).

      I want to quote Dr. W.W. Hamilton,

      "The individual administration of the ordinance has no Bible warrant and is a relic of Romanism. The Lord’s Supper is a church ordinance, and anything which goes beyond or comes short of this fails for want of scriptural example or command".

      “The practice of taking a little communion kit to hospitals, nursing homes, etc. is unscriptural and does not follow the scriptural example.”

      IT IS RESTRICTED TO A UNITED CHURCH

      A. The Bible in I Cor. 11:18 is very strong in condemning divisions around the Lord’s table. For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.
      19 For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.
      20 When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's supper.

      There were no less than four divisions in the Corinthian church.
      I Cor. 1:12: "Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ."

      Because of these divisions, it was impossible for them to scripturally eat the Lord’s Supper. Division in the local church is reason to hold off observing the Lord’s Supper. But there are also other reasons to forego taking the Lord’s Supper. If there is gross sin in the membership we do not take it. Here is scriptural evidence for this: 1Co 5:7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us:
      8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. 9 I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators:
      10 Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. 11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.

      B. At this point, I want to ask these questions: Are there not doctrinal divisions among the many denominations? Is it not our doctrinal differences that cause us to be separate religious bodies?

      IT IS RESTRICTED BY DOCTRINE

      A. Those in the early church at Jerusalem who partook "continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine" Acts 2:42. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

      B. Those that do not hold to apostolic truth are not to partake. This means there is to be discipline in the local body. How can you discipline those who do not belong to the local body? You can’t. The clear command of scripture is to withdraw fellowship from those who are not doctrinally sound.

      II Thes 3:6: "Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us."
      Rom. 16:17: "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them."
      To commune together means to have the same doctrine.
      II Thes. 2:15: "Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle."
      II John 10-11: "If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds."

      C. Some Baptists in our day have watered down this doctrine by practicing what they call “Close Communion.” By this they mean that they believe that members of another Baptist church may take communion with us because they are of the same beliefs. Once again, this is unscriptural.

      The welcome to the Lord's Table should not be extended beyond the discipline of the local church. When we take the Lord’s Supper there is supposed to be no gross sin among us and no divisions among us. We have no idea of the spiritual condition of another church’s members. If there is sin or division in the case of this other church’s members, we have no way of knowing it. We cannot discipline them because they are not members of our church. This is why we practice “Closed” communion, meaning it is restricted solely to our church membership. 
      So then, in closing I would like to reiterate the three different ideas concerning the Lord’s Supper and who is to take it. 
      Closed Communion = Only members of a single local church. 
      Close Communion = Members of like faith and order may partake. 
      Open Communion = If you claim to be a Christian, or simply attending the service, you may partake. 
      It is no small thing to attempt to change that which was implemented by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 
      Mt. 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. 
      Many of our Baptist churches have a real need to consider the gravity of the act of observing The Lord’s Supper. It is not a light thing that is to be taken casually or without regard to the spiritual condition of ourselves or our church.
      1Co. 11:27 Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.

       28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.

       29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.

       30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.

Sermon Supoenaes


ThePilgrim

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  • Advanced Member

THer used to be a blind preacher in London and he always preached without notes.  I was tol that once when on his way to church he asked a companion, "What shall I preach on tonight?"

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  • Lady Administrators

The 5 were singled out because of petitions that apparently were circulated against the "bathroom" bill (what the churches call it) - the bill that would make public restrooms open to any gender...even though there are laws on the books in TX that would keep certain people away from restrooms of opposite gender because of being pedophiles.

 

Before she started backpedaling, she tweeted that the 5 pastors got into politics, so they aren't protected...She OBviously has no knowledge of American history.  

 

For starters, homosexuality/gender nonsense isn't political at its root, it is spiritual (as is abortion, adultery, etc., etc.).  And as such, any "issue" that is out there in public that relates to that is open to be preached about in the pulpit.

 

Secondly, the founding people of this country did not in any way believe that Christians and/or pastors were to keep their noses out of politics. The erroneous idea of separation of church and state being that no Christians have say in government and no government offices can in any way acknowledge God or Jesus Christ has contributed to government servants becoming lords and masters as Christians bow the knee to them believing they are OBeying God...

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Todd Starnes posted this 25 minutes ago on his FB PAGE:

Urgent Item! The lesbian mayor of Houston has NOT rescinded the subpoenas against the 5 Christian pastors. Family Research Council has launched a petition drive calling for the city to immediately rescind the subpoenas. I need you to sign the petition!
Let's send a very clear message to Houston and the nation. Please, please share this with your family and friends and church members Stand together people of faith!
https://www.frc.org/houston

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  • Independent Fundamental Baptist

I pray to God that there would be a seperation of church and state. It's high time the church stand up for something!!! Let's get right and get the world out of the church!!!!

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OBviously we can read any motives we like into these subpoenas being issued, but strictly on the facts alone I don't see what this has got to do with them being pastors or separation of church and state or anything like that.

 

A petition was lodged with the council and there is a dispute about whether it contains enough valid signatures. The group that lodged the petition is OBviously saying that there are and the council is saying that there aren't. So a group of people are now suing the council to force them to acknowledge that there are enough signatures and respond to the petition appropriately. In response to the lawsuit, the council's lawyers have issued subpoenas demanding information from those who collected the signatures, and the pastors in question are among those who collected the signatures.

 

At the end of the day, if it's necessary to collect that information for the sake of defending the lawsuit then those doing the defending are justified asking for it and its irrelevant whether the people who have the information are pastors or not. If the case is about whether a petition was done fairly and it's necessary to scrutinise how those who collected the signatures went about doing it, a person shouldn't be immune from such scrutiny just because they happen to be a pastor, even if they've decided to do the organising/collecting in 'work' time.

 

So if the subpoenas are justified for the sake of defending the suit, then those subject to them ought to OBlige even if they are pastors, and if the subpoenas aren't justified then those subject to them ought not to OBlige even if they aren't pastors.

 

So are they justified? I.M.O no. There are presumably very clear rules about what is a valid signing of a petition and what isn't, and the existence of the paperwork isn't disputed, so surely that's all anyone needs in order to establish whether enough valid signatures were collected--no need for anything else. Moreover the scope of the subpoenas seems to go way beyond collecting information about the petition, which of course is the bit the press has majored on. So I've got some sympathy with those who say this is about trying to intimidate pastors, 'cos it does look suspicious. But there are alternative explanations, e.g. lazy legal secretaries, beaurocratic incompetency etc.

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With their reactions, backpedaling, changing of terms, etc., I don't think it's lazy secretaries or incompetence...I believe it is a direct frontal assault on religious liberty - intentionally so - by someone who hates Christianity.  

 

The sermons (speeches) that are being subpeonad are those that mention the mayor, homosexuality or gender identity.  It's an egregious overreach, no matter their explanation.

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OBviously we can read any motives we like into these subpoenas being issued, but strictly on the facts alone I don't see what this has got to do with them being pastors or separation of church and state or anything like that.

 

A petition was lodged with the council and there is a dispute about whether it contains enough valid signatures. The group that lodged the petition is OBviously saying that there are and the council is saying that there aren't. So a group of people are now suing the council to force them to acknowledge that there are enough signatures and respond to the petition appropriately. In response to the lawsuit, the council's lawyers have issued subpoenas demanding information from those who collected the signatures, and the pastors in question are among those who collected the signatures.

 

At the end of the day, if it's necessary to collect that information for the sake of defending the lawsuit then those doing the defending are justified asking for it and its irrelevant whether the people who have the information are pastors or not. If the case is about whether a petition was done fairly and it's necessary to scrutinise how those who collected the signatures went about doing it, a person shouldn't be immune from such scrutiny just because they happen to be a pastor, even if they've decided to do the organising/collecting in 'work' time.

 

So if the subpoenas are justified for the sake of defending the suit, then those subject to them ought to OBlige even if they are pastors, and if the subpoenas aren't justified then those subject to them ought not to OBlige even if they aren't pastors.

 

So are they justified? I.M.O no. There are presumably very clear rules about what is a valid signing of a petition and what isn't, and the existence of the paperwork isn't disputed, so surely that's all anyone needs in order to establish whether enough valid signatures were collected--no need for anything else. Moreover the scope of the subpoenas seems to go way beyond collecting information about the petition, which of course is the bit the press has majored on. So I've got some sympathy with those who say this is about trying to intimidate pastors, 'cos it does look suspicious. But there are alternative explanations, e.g. lazy legal secretaries, beaurocratic incompetency etc.

Though there is an argument going on about the subject you are addressing, that is not what the subpoenas are about.  

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  • Lady Administrators

Interesting article by TX State Rep Matt Krause

 

 

Consider this a thank you note to Houston Mayor Annise Parker. After all, it’s rare that someone does something so egregious, so unacceptable and so unconstitutional that virtually everyone comes together to condemn it.

 

Texas has seen two such unifying instances within the past week. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis recently released a campaign ad so crass that it was universally denounced on both the right and the left.

 

Not to be outdone, the city of Houston recently sent subpoenas to five pastors, the Houston Chronicle reported this week. The subpoenas asked them to turn over any documentation (including sermons, emails and text messages — 17 forms of communication in all) related to Parker, homosexuality, gender identity or Houston’s equal rights ordinance. Also known as HERO, the overly broad and far-reaching anti-discrimination ordinance was passed in May but is now caught up in a legal dispute over a petition to repeal it. 

 

This gross overreach stirred outrage among those you might expect: the conservative constitutional litigation firm Alliance Defending Freedom, constitutional scholar and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, and the evangelical Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. But other groups and advocates who might usually be sympathetic to Parker — including Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the Interfaith Alliance — all voiced their disapproval of the city’s move. 

 

Houston officials now appear to be backtracking. Parker and City Attorney David Feldman conceded on Wednesday that the subpoenas were too broad, and they indicated they would attempt to narrow the focus of the legal documents. But absent a court order, I don’t have much faith that the mayor and the city will follow through. Parker herself tweeted on Tuesday, “If the 5 pastors used pulpits for politics, their sermons are fair game. Were instructions given on filling out anti-HERO petition?”

 

It took fewer than 140 characters for Parker to show her lack of understanding of the law. She appears to think that pastors and churches cannot be involved politically, and that if pastors or churches dare to discuss political topics from the pulpit, they’re violating the law and subject to prosecution. That’s a misreading of the law. According to Section 501©(3) of the IRS code, churches and pastors may not endorse or oppose political candidates from the pulpit, but they’re allowed to discuss matters like legislation, initiatives and constitutional amendments as long as the advocacy doesn’t constitute a “substantial part” of their activities — which cannot be alleged here. So even if the pastors had told their congregants to oppose Parker’s proposal, there’s nothing legally wrong with that. The only thing the pastors are guilty of is exercising their First Amendment rights to free speech.

It’s a shame to see an elected official use the bully pulpit to literally bully her constituents. The subpoenas were an attempt to intimidate and silence those who disagree with the mayor’s views. (We should remember that these churches and others helped spur over 50,000 citizens to sign a petition to overturn the “HERO” initiative.)

 

It has been gratifying to see universal opposition to this misguided idea. I also appreciate the boldness and courage of the pastors who are not backing down in face of these bully tactics. Hopefully, Parker will not just narrow the focus of the subpoenas but do away with them altogether.

 

Religious liberty and the freedom of conscience are bedrocks of American civilization. The five pastors are merely carrying on a long American tradition of religious leaders informing their congregants of relevant current events. It’s only because of their viewpoints that they’re being targeted.  

 

In today’s polarized society, it’s often hard to find areas of consensus. But thanks to Parker’s outlandish actions, we’ve found something that we can all agree on. And for that, she deserves our appreciation. 

(On a side note, the fact that the IRS "allows" this kind of speech is not a good thing - what it "allows" it can disallow - ...and just one of the multitude of reasons the IRS should be ended)

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  • Lady Administrators

Yes, we should pray for them.  But you are wrong that politics shouldn't be our business. God gave us the rights that are guaranteed - and that are being trampled.  To sit back and do nothing (as in the case of this bathroom bill...which would allow pedophiles who want to claim to be transgendered access to children to whom they are sexually attracted) is to fail in our stewardship of this country God gave us. I realize, Invicta, you are not in America and your politics is a bit different. But once upon a time even Englishmen would have stepped up and protested this.

 

God does protect. But bad things happen to good people. And when good people sit back and allow heinous rulings and bills to stand, God is not honored.

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No, it sure isn't.  But it's not always all that God wants of us. If it were, then we'd all just sit in our houses, right? There are any number of things to which we need to put our feet to as well as pray.  (please note that I did agree that we should pray, and never ever said praying was doing nothing)

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Though there is an argument going on about the subject you are addressing, that is not what the subpoenas are about.  

 

Sure, like I said, you could read any motive into the actions that you like.

 

With their reactions, backpedaling, changing of terms, etc., I don't think it's lazy secretaries or incompetence...I believe it is a direct frontal assault on religious liberty - intentionally so - by someone who hates Christianity.  

 

The sermons (speeches) that are being subpeonad are those that mention the mayor, homosexuality or gender identity.  It's an egregious overreach, no matter their explanation.

 

There are dozens of demands in the document and the majority of them refer to communications related to the petition. It's not a case of a subpeona that has just been issued out of the blue because a major has caught wind of preaching she doesn't like.

 

Like I say, I don't see why anything is being asked for at all--it should be enough for both parties to get together with someone independent and examine all 50,000 pieces of paper one-by-one and count how many are valid according to the black-and-white rules about what a valid signature is. Disappointingly, neither side appears to be interested in genuinely verifiying how many valid signatures there are.

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There are dozens of demands in the document and the majority of them refer to communications related to the petition. It's not a case of a subpeona that has just been issued out of the blue because a major has caught wind of preaching she doesn't like.

 

Like I say, I don't see why anything is being asked for at all--it should be enough for both parties to get together with someone independent and examine all 50,000 pieces of paper one-by-one and count how many are valid according to the black-and-white rules about what a valid signature is. Disappointingly, neither side appears to be interested in genuinely verifiying how many valid signatures there are.

Noone has the authority to lawfully examine the sermons, emails, texts, etc., of these pastors. It doesn't matter if every sermon they preached tells people to sign the petitions and vote the mayor out.  There is no constitutional (federal or state) authority, nor even law in Houston that allows it. Examining the petitions for veracity is one thing - and should be done. Examining the pastors' communications another - and demanding them is the overreach. 

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And now she's claiming she didn't know about the subpeonas...sigh. (article is from christiannews.net)

 


 

HOUSTON – Houston’s openly lesbian mayor says that she did not know that attorneys for the city had requested copies of sermons from several area pastors in light of a lawsuit that was filed surrounding the city’s rejection of an initiative pertaining to a recently-passed “bathroom bill.”

As previously reported, Mayor Annise Parker had promoted an “Equal Rights Ordinance” earlier this year designed to quell any discrimination in America’s fourth largest city—including any discrimination on the basis of “gender identity.” Most opponents were especially concerned about the “Public Accommodations” section of the ordinance, which would allow men to use women’s restrooms, and vice versa, if they identity with the opposite sex.

“It shall be unlawful for any place of public accommodation or any employee or agent thereof to intentionally deny any person entry to any restroom, shower room, or similar facility if that facility is consistent with and appropriate to that person’s expression of gender identity,” the ordinance states.

The only stipulation, according to the ordinance, is that people who use the opposite sex’s facilities must dress, behave, and clothe themselves in a way that is “consistent with the gender designation of the facility the person attempt to access.”


 

In June, Houston City Council passed the bill, resulting in the creation of an initiative signed by area residents who requested that either City Council repeal the ordinance or that it place the matter on the ballot for voters to decide. According to WND, over 55,000 signatures were submitted, and City Secretary Anna Russell confirmed in writing that 17,846 were acceptable. The minimum required by the city for a referendum is 17,269. Although Russell acknowledged that the submission was over nearly 600 votes about the minimum, Mayor Parker and the city attorney rejected it.

In August, those behind the initiative, which included area pastors, filed a lawsuit against the city over its rejection of the signatures and the referendum in general. In response, pro bono attorneys for the City of Houston subpoenaed several area pastors not a party to the lawsuit, and issued discovery requests seeking “all speeches, presentations, or sermons related to HERO, the Petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity prepared by, delivered by, revised by, or approved by you or in your possession.”

National uproar was quickly generated about the matter, and now Parker is speaking out, saying that she did not know the attorneys issued the discovery requests and that she agrees the scope of the request was too broad.

 

“Mayor Parker agrees with those who are concerned about the city legal department’s subpoenas for pastor’s sermons,” City spokesperson Janice Evans told reporters this week. “The subpoenas were issued by pro bono attorneys helping the city prepare for the trial regarding the petition to repeal the new Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) in January. Neither the mayor nor City Attorney David Feldman were aware the subpoenas had been issued until yesterday.”

“Both agree the original documents were overly broad,” she continued. “The city will move to narrow the scope during an upcoming court hearing. Feldman says the focus should be only on communications related to the HERO petition process.”

Initial reports about the matter stated that the purpose of OBtaining copies of the sermons were to see if the subpoenaed pastors had ever spoken against the city or the ordinance, but officials claim that misinformation has been generated about the issue. They explain that attorneys had requested the sermons to see if pastors had provided instructions on properly completing the petitions, as the focus of the lawsuit is on the rejection of the initiative and many of the signatures that had been collected.

“If the five pastors used pulpits for politics, their sermons are fair game,” Parker Tweeted on Wednesday before appearing at a press release about the matter. “Were instructions given on filling out anti-HERO petition?”

City Attorney David Feldman made similar statements to the Houston Chronicle.

“Feldman said the pastors made their sermons relevant to the case by using the pulpit to do political organizing,” the publication reported. “That included encouraging congregation members to sign petitions and help gather signatures for equal rights ordinance foes, who largely take issue with the rights extended to gay and transgender residents.”

But the legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) says that it is not just the requests for the sermons that concern them—it is the subpoenas themselves since they involve those who are not even a party to the lawsuit.

“The way to fix this is to withdraw the subpoenas entirely,” said ADF Litigation Counsel Christiana Holcomb. “Otherwise, the city’s and the mayor’s overtures are simply more window-dressing intended to shield them from public scrutiny.” 

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