Houston’s power-mad Mayor Annise Parker has backtracked on those subpoenas that she had the city issue to five city pastors, at taxpayer expense.
The mayor made the move as Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott sent a letter to Parker asking that she withdraw the subpoenas “immediately.”
Attorney General Greg Abbott Asks Houston City Attorney to Withdraw Subpoenas Seeking Sermons, Other Documents from Houston-area Pastors
AUSTIN — Attorney General Abbott today asked that the Houston City Attorney to immediately withdraw the subpoenas sent last month to several Houston-area pastors seeking sermons, notes and other information.
In his letter to the city attorney, Attorney General Abbott said, “Whether you intend it to be so or not, your action is a direct assault on the religious liberty guaranteed by the First Amendment. The people of Houston and their religious leaders must be absolutely secure in the knowledge that their religious affairs are beyond the reach of the government.”
Abbott is the Republican nominee for Texas governor and is widely expected to win in November.
Houston’s KTRH radio reports that Parker is shifting her position.
The mayor says the subpoenas were too broad, and should not have included actual sermons.
“It’s not about what did you preach on last Sunday,” Parker told reporters Wednesday. “It should have been clarified, it will be clarified.”
Actually it was very much about what pastors preached, and how they communicate with each other and with ministry staff.
“When I looked at it I felt it was overly broad, I would not have worded it that way myself,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that it has been construed as some effort to infringe upon religious liberty.”
City Attorney David Feldman now claims that he did not even review the subpoenas before they were issued.
Both are remarkable climb-downs from the position that Parker herself took just Tuesday night, when she defended the subpoenas of sermons themselves as “fair game.”
Parker defended the subpoenas, and specifically subpoenaing sermons, in this tweet:
If the 5 pastors used pulpits for politics, their sermons are fair game. Were instructions given on filling out anti-HERO petition?-A
— Annise Parker (@AnniseParker) October 15, 2014
Now she claims that they were “overly broad.” More likely, the reaction that her move got was overly hostile — forcing her hand.
Update on next page.
Update: Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert weighs in:
“Apparently, the subpoena was not merely about sermons, but also about harassment for exercising 1st Amendment religious freedoms that are in conflict with totalitarian-loving, Judeo-Christian heritage hating city officials. It appears they saw how this administration has successfully used the courts and IRS to harass and eliminate political adversaries without any adverse consequences, and so they are giving their own abuses a try.”