The First Amendment of the United States Constitution states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” This so-called separation of church and state has often been invoked in attempts to eradicate religious expression from public life. We witnessed an example of this in Rhode Island in 2012 when the United States District Court ruled that a long-standing religious banner was to be removed from a public high school because it violated the First Amendment.
However, one of the most extreme examples of the attempt to eradicate religious expression is currently happening in Houston, Texas. Houston’s openly gay mayor, Annise Parker, recently subpoenaed five local evangelical pastors who preached that homosexual activity is contrary to God’s law. The initial subpoena went so far as to request sermons that were preached. However, it was later amended to request emails and other correspondence. Regardless, it seems that Mayor Parker is attempting to intimidate any church that would preach against her lifestyle.
Mayor Parker’s actions are a blatant abuse of power. Her attempt to silence religious expression reaches far beyond anything we’ve seen. She is attempting to reach into the very pulpits and pews of churches. True, priests and ministers ought not to endorse particular candidates from the pulpit; however, they are certainly allowed, and morally obliged, to preach the truths of the Gospel, even when this means challenging the politics of the day. Let’s hope and pray that religious freedom wins out over political abuse of power in Houston.