Cruz decries 'assault against religious liberty'

(ChristianExaminer.com)U.S. Senator Ted Cruz speaks at a quickly arranged press conference, Oct. 16, in defense of the religious liberty of Houston pastors who have been subpoenaed by the City of Houston to produce sermons and notes.

HOUSTON (Christian Examiner)--U.S. Senator Ted Cruz held a quickly arranged press conference, 11:15 this morning, in Houston's First Baptist Church located in North Houston.

Cruz, who attends First Baptist, addressed dozens of pastors, various politicians and the local media, along with some interested community members, regarding the city's recent subpoena requiring a number of local pastors to submit sermons and notes related to homosexuality and gender identity. The hot-button issue comes after Houston's city council approved a controversial Equal Rights Ordinance and then reportedly tossed a referendum petition by the opposition.

Cruz's remarks centered on "religious liberty" and expressed a fervent support of "the men and women of God who have been called forth to speak the truth no matter the consequences."

"Today we all stand united in the defense of religious liberty and in defense of the pastors of Houston," he noted. "The City of Houston's subpoenas demanding that pastors provide the government with copies of their sermons is both shocking and shameful. For far too long, the federal government has led an assault against religious liberty, and now, sadly, my hometown of Houston is joining the fight. This is wrong."

Also attending the meeting was Pastor Steve Riggle, of Grace Community Church, one of the Houston pastors receiving a subpoena to submit his sermons to the mayor's office. Riggle explained his understanding of the mayor's motivation behind issuing these subpoenas.

"She's opposing that we stood up to her on what she wanted to be her crowning moment for the city—the Equal Rights Ordinance, which we believe is an Un-Equal Rights Ordinance," he said. "We have no issue with the homosexual community having equal rights.

"In my opinion, the way she has operated in the past, these subpoenas were intended to intimidate us and to make sure that everybody knows that she's in charge, that this (Houston) is her turf, and that this will be handled on her terms."

FBC Pastor Gregg Matte, also addressed the group stating "The most important thing we do is preach the Bible. This challenge is a holy moment to share the love of Jesus and honor him with his word being taught."

He concluded the meeting with a prayer that our country would "uphold the religious freedom that we were founded upon and for the mayor and the city attorney to make the right decision to rescind the subpoena."

RELATED:

Houston-area pastor says 'never to Mayor Annise Parkers demand for sermon & notes

Texas AG to Houston city attorney: Don't mess with Texans' religious liberty

DEVELOPING: U.S. Senator Ted Cruz pledges to defend religious liberty of Houston pastors

FBC Houston's Gregg Matte: 'When one pastor is subpoenaed, all pastors are subpoenaed'

Revised subpoena to Houston pastors 'solves nothing' ADF says; FRC calls it a 'head-fake'