It is being reported that local officials in Houston, TX have issued subpoenas for certain pastors' sermons who took issue with the city's equal rights ordinance. The subpoenas ask the pastors to turn over any sermons that deal with gender identity, homosexuality, or the mayor herself, who is an outspoken lesbian. Refusal to do so could result in a "fine, confinement, or both."
Obviously, this is an egregious violation of the first amendment. Furthermore, it is largely seen as an act of vengeance on behalf of the mayor*, who is attempting to dole out payback for those who would dare oppose her agenda. I don't think there's any way the city's actions will be upheld by the courts... this time.
Nevertheless, the attempt should send chills down the spine of any American who values free speech and freedom of religion. Pastors in particular should take note, as it would appear we are now heading down the path of being charged with a "hate crime" when we preach and teach the biblical position on homosexuality. Does anyone really doubt this is only a matter of time?
On a related note, pastors and churches need to understand that the homosexuality issue is a BIG one for those seeking out a new church. Three times in the last week, I have been asked our church's position on homosexuality. Two of those instances were folks looking for a church that was accepting. One of those instances was a family wanting to make sure we viewed it as sin. My answer to all was the same, "We believe that homosexuality is a sin, and teach it as such. But we also believe in treating homosexuals with respect and dignity."
Pastor, is your church ready to defend its stance on homosexuality? Can your people articulate a biblical view of sexuality? Are you prepared to face fines and even jail time for preaching the Word? The time is no longer in the future; the time is upon us.
*UPDATE: The mayor is now saying she had no prior knowledge of the subpoenas, and supports only those subpoenas which deal specifically with the equal rights ordinance. This still represents an unacceptable violation of the first amendment in this pastor's opinion.