Pastors in Texas are free to speak out on moral issues after a Bill protecting their rights was signed into law.
The Sermon Protection Act (SB24) states that the Government may not compel pastors to create or provide copies of their sermons, or to testify regarding the sermon.
SB24 was put forward in response to a 2014 controversy when the then mayor of Houston subpoenaed the sermons of five pastors.
The Bill was signed by Governor Abbott last Friday after it was passed unanimously in the State Senate, and came into effect immediately.
The ‘Houston Five’ were pastors who opposed legislation to allow men identifying as women to use female toilets and vice versa.
Steve Riggle, one of the Houston Five, said that nobody thought a sermon law would ever have been necessary, and remarked that it was “a crazy day”.
Riggle added: “We never thought we’d have to define men or women either, but here we are. We thought the names on the restroom doors actually meant something.”
President of the pro-family group Texas Values Jonathan Saenz thanked Gov Abbott for his roles in defending liberty.
When the Human Equality Rights Ordinance (HERO) was pushed through by pro-LGBT mayor Annise Parker in 2014, a petition to repeal it gathered 31,000 signatures.
The petition, which was nearly double the amount needed for a ballot, was dismissed by the mayor’s office, leading outraged citizens and pastors to file a lawsuit.
In response, Mayor Parker demanded pastors turn over all sermons which referenced HERO, homosexuality or gender identity.
The City of Houston was defeated in court and was forced to rescind the ordinance after a landslide vote against the law.