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A Line Has Been Crossed

It’s Time to Sound the Alarm on Religious Liberty

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Something outrageous and unprecedented has happened in America. And if the American church doesn’t respond -- then there really is no American church.

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Eric Metaxas

Last week I told you that Houston’s Mayor, Annise Parker, demanded to see the sermons of a group of five pastors and threatened them with a subpoena. Why? Because the pastors had objected to a new so-called “equal rights” ordinance that would allow self-identified “transgendered” men to use women’s restrooms.

That’s an issue all its own. But as bad as that is, the Houston mayor’s shocking and outrageous trampling on the religious liberty of these pastors is far, far more disturbing.  In fact, for someone in government to demand that pastors turn over their sermons is almost beyond belief. I confess I almost thought I was reading something out of my own book on Dietrich Bonhoeffer, where I describe how the Gestapo tried to harass and intimidate Martin Niemoller and other German pastors speaking the truth from their pulpits.

But this happened in America, a country that was founded on religious liberty.daily_commentary_10_21_14

Now let me be clear:  I don’t like to get people excited over nothing. But if ever there was a time to get excited—if ever there was a time to stand up and shout—folks, this is it. The Houston Mayor’s office has crossed a bold red line—and it has walked all over religious freedom in an act so brazen that it demands a response. And not just for religious liberty. Religious liberty is the canary in the coal mine. If this inexcusable act goes unanswered, it will open the door to government threatening other liberties. So this is not just about Christians and the church in America—it’s about all Americans. And it’s about America itself.

So if we don’t act on this, we can’t complain when we lose further liberties and eventually we aren’t able to act at all. This is our chance. Whatever voice and liberties we have now, we must use.

So what am I suggesting we do? Well, my friends at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission had a great idea. They urged pastors all across America to send their sermons to the Houston Mayor’s office. In fact, why don’t we all send sermons? But then I had another idea: we should send Bibles as well.

Why Bibles? Because we need to say that this is the Word of God and in America it is not subject to governmental oversight or regulation. Those who value this book answer to a higher authority than the State. I’m happy to say that I emailed my thoughts to Mike Huckabee, and he repeated the call on his TV show Saturday.

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I’ll have that address of the Mayor's office in a moment, but won’t you please join us and send a sermon or a Bible or even a card with a scripture verse to Mayor Parker? Pray over it and send it in love. Pray that God would show Mayor Parker and every politician in America that religious freedom is sacred and we cannot allow the State to trample upon it -- and by God’s grace, we won’t.

As I've said, the church has to answer this mayor's outrageous and deeply un-American action. We've got to forcefully remind those in government that the church in America has been free since 1776—and the Founders intended it to stay that way. And we do too.

Just recently I was jogging along the Charles River in Newton, Massachusetts, not far from Boston—the “Cradle of Liberty”—and near Lexington and Concord. And I was thinking about when Paul Revere rode through the night, sounding the alarm. In a way that’s what this is. We must do the same—sound the alarm.

So please do send a sermon or a Bible. And please do it if you can TODAY. If you’ve got a pencil, the address is: Mayor Parker, City Hall, 901 Bagby Street, Houston, TX 77002. But you can also find that address at Breakpoint.org.

If the American church does not rise up and stand against this, there is no American church. So won’t you please stand and be the church? God bless you. And God bless America.

Further Reading and Information

A Line Has Been Crossed: It’s Time to Sound the Alarm on Religious Liberty
Great sermons are meant to be shared. Ask your pastor to give you printed copies of two of his best sermons, and send them to Mayor Parker. The address is City Hall, 901 Bagby Street, Houston, TX 77002. Then begin praying daily for Mayor Parker and all public officials, following Paul's guidelines in 1 Timothy 2:1-2.

Below are links to more details and information about the Houston controversy.

Resources

Hand Over Your Sermons, Or Else: Intimidating the Faithful
Eric Metaxas | BreakPoint.org | October 17, 2014

Houston, We Have a Constitution
Russell Moore | Moore to the Point | October 14, 2014

Houston to pastors: Forget your sermons, now we want your speeches
Todd Starnes | FoxNews.com | October 17, 2014

#4Houston5: Stand with Houston pastors
Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission | October 15, 2014

Houston Drops Sermons from Subpoenas
Kate Shellnutt | Christianity Today | October 17, 2014

Houston to Pastors: OK, We Don’t Need Your Sermons, but You Still Have to Hand Over Your Speeches
Andrew Kloster | The Daily Signal | October 17, 2014

Overcoming Fear
Dietrich Bonhoeffer sermon


Comments:

Elaborating on Mo's comment
Let me, in suitable humility, since I have no law school training whatever, attempt to put this matter into perspective. This is according to Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for BreakPoint's ally the ACLJ (American Center for Law and Justice) and constitutional attorney who has made history multiple times by winning back religious rights as an appellant at the U.S. Supreme Court. Although the Court had started misinterpreting Jefforson's phrase "the wall of separation between Church and State" in the 1940s, the idea that pastors are not allowed to talk about politics in church comes from an amendment to the Internal Revenue Code proposed in 1954 by a U.S. Senator named Lyndon B. Johnson (I wonder whatever happened to him). The Johnson Amendment, as it has come to be called, prohibits certain political activity by 501(c)(3) tax-exempt non-profit organizations, including churches, lest they lose their tax-exempt status (source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnson_Amendment). Because of this, and the way it has been misused and blown out of proportion by liberals, many pastors are scared to death of violating the amendment and losing their tax-exempt status, especially conservatives (can you spell Martin Luther King Jr. ladies and germs?). The facts are that (1) no church has ever lost its tax-exempt status under this amendment, and in fact (2) churches do not even need to file as 501(c)(3) organizations; they are automatically tax-exempt anyway just because they are churches.
Sadly, no one will say a word about this, especially from the pulpit.

Churches and pastors have been brainwashed with the lie that speaking out in public on issues like this = "politics" and thus cannot be addressed in church.

For the LIFE of me, I can't understand that. But until this issue is addressed first, churches won't dare say a word about it. And our rights will continue to be taken from us by these intolerant demanders of "tolerance".
A Christian Manifesto
I just sent a copy of 'A Christian Manifesto' delivered by Frances Schaeffer in 1982…Dr Schaeffer explains how our society has shifted from basing laws on the inalienable rights given by God to basing it upon humanistic beliefs which are arbitrary and ever-shifing -- "…basis of law then becomes arbitrary -- merely certain people making decisions as to what is for the good of society at the given moment." Houston, we have a problem!
to the one claiming to be the Messiah,
I hope it was a typo when you implied that the original usage of the phrase "separation of church and state" was to keep the church from influencing the state, because that is exactly backwards. Or were you talking about the misuse of that Jefferson quote by US Supreme Court justices since the 1940s?
comment
Where's the 'Like' button for Gina's comment?
@Jesus Christ -- are you kidding? It's not every day we have such distinguished company! Although -- forgive me -- I would have expected the Lord to have slightly better grammar . . . :-)
Mayor Parker
I just sent Mayor Parker a copy of the book
The Case For Faith: A Journalist Investigates The Toughest Objections to Christianity
Lee Strobel. Hope she reads it!
This is sad. My people are acting as if they have been prosecuted. How about being hung upon a cross for being different? Anyhow, I've been watching this little government of yours from Above for quite some time now, and when those men stated that the Church and the State should be separate, it was to keep the State free from the influence of the Church, not the other way around. However I do agree that this is going too far, but in no way is sending in 30,000 Holy Bibles a solution. Be humble, peaceful, and civil. Correct the errors of this governing body through the means they have provided.

It has occurred to me that this website will most likely not display this because they think I am some fourteen year old "trolling," but I hope you, the author, have read and contemplated this and hopefully you will choose not to censor it and allow it into the open marketplace of ideas that is the internet.
You lost this fight 50 years ago.
Until conservatives are willing to once again truly fight for the right of freedom of association, which would mean repealing parts of the Civil Rights Act, then this is a fight they lost before they even began.

-The Bechtloff
-landsharkattacks.blogspot.com
houston
Rather than trivializing this outrage, why aren't we bringing political pressure to bear by calling for her resignation/impeachment? Or bringing a civil suit against her?
The other side are masters of controlling the media to bring pressure to bear (i.e. Gordon College). With Christian charity shouldn't we be not merely sending sermons/bibles but publically exposing this unconstitutional evil against freedom of speech and religion?




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