Cruz calls on Parker to rescind sermon subpoenas

October 17, 2014 in News by The Manimal


Sen. Ted Cruz speaks out against Houston City Hall's subpoena request for the sermons of certain ministers opposed to the city's equal rights ordinance. Cruz spoke Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014, at First Baptist Church, 7401 Katy Freeway. Photo: Marie DeJesus / Houston Chronicle

U.S. Sen Ted Cruz blasted the Parker administration for subpoenaing sermons delivered by certain pastors in front of a large crowd at Houston First Baptist Churchon Thursday, calling the requests an “indefensible assault on religious liberty.”

Cruz, R-Texas, was joined by the five pastors who were issued subpoenas as part of the discovery phase of a lawsuit Christian conservatives have filed against the city in regard to Houston’s equal rights ordinance. Cruz took aim at Mayor Annise Parker and the legal team that issued the subpoenas, saying they have no authority to determine whether “the sermons you preach on Sunday are acceptable in City Hall on Monday.”

“The City of Houston has no power, no legal authority to silence the church,” Cruz said, pausing for a wave of applause. “Caesar has no jurisdiction over the pulpit.”

Cruz’s comments Thursday marked just the latest fallout from the subpoenas, which have sparked outrage among Christian conservative groups across the country. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott late Wednesday sent a letter urging the city to withdraw the subpoena.

Parker distanced herself from the requests at a press conference Wednesday, saying they were drafted by outside lawyers for the city and were “overly broad.” Feldman said Wednesday that the city will clarify its response and narrow the request to target communications between pastors, not specifically the sermons they preach. All five pastors subpoenaed were directly involved in leading the charge against the city’s equal rights ordinance, largely taking issue with the rights the law extends to gay and transgender residents.

The standing-room-only crowd Thursday called on Parker to withdraw the subpoenas all together, chiming in with applause and “amen” as Cruz condemned the city for targeting pastors.

“This is a country that was formed centuries ago by people fleeing religious oppression and seeking a land where you do not need to seek the permission of a king or queen or president,” Cruz said.

The crowd, applauding, responded in near-unison, “or mayor.”