HOUSTON, Texas — Senator Ted Cruz gathered with Houston area pastors on Thursday to address the City of Houston and Mayor Annise Parker’s “unchecked government power” and “assault on religious liberty.”
The event attracted a large press corps after the City of Houston received national attention after issuing subpoenas to pastors. Media outlets, including Breitbart Texas, reported that the City issued subpoenas to five Houston-area pastors. The subpoenas were for notes, sermons, and communications with congregants. Hundreds of concerned citizens and congregants of all nationalities and faiths attended the event which at times, seemed to be more like a prayer meeting.
Cruz received rousing cheers and applause when he told the crowd that “Caesar has no jurisdiction over the pulpit.” The Senator said “When you subpoena one pastor, you subpoena all pastors.”
Cruz stood with Ed Young and Pastor Gregg Matte from Houston mega-churches and many other pastors. He called the City of Houston’s actions a “stunning, undeniable, unconstitutional, abuse of governmental power by a city administration”. Cruz compared the city’s actions with that of the Internal Revenue Service and said the City’s actions were “part and parcel of the same explosion of government power” that has been occurring in the federal government.
Erik Stanley is a lawyer who is representing the Plaintiff pastors and conservatives against the City of Houston. The litigation was brought over referendum signatures against the Mayor’s controversial Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO). Stanley said that “biblically and constitutionally we will accept no government intrusion into the pulpit.”
Kelly Shackelford, of the Liberty Institute, a group that defends religious liberty in the courts, said that Mayor Parker “must withdraw immediately, not merely narrow the scope of the subpoenas.” Shackelford said he has represented litigants fighting for religious liberty for over 25 years but has never seen this type of unconstitutional affront on religious liberty. He said that Parker “was not fit to serve in office” because her actions were in retribution for the pastors’ actions and were unconstitutional.
After the event, the Senator met with the press corps and he was asked about the importance of the election of judges in Houston and Harris County. He replied that the “Right kind of judges, no doubt principled men and women, who are impartial and follow the law and most importantly who will prudently follow the constitution and respect religious liberty, must be elected”. He called the City’s actions “a wakeup call”. He said he “intended to vote Republican up and down the ballot” and that this “included the judges.” He said he was voting for judges who would “not use their position to further their policy preferences.” The HERO litigation is in the court of a Democrat Harris County Judge who won during the Obama sweep in Harris County in 2008.
Lana Shadwick is a contributing writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. Follow her on Twitter @LanaShadwick2.