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Texas Pastor Protection Bill

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  • Texas Pastor Protection Bill

    I have a thread in the prayer and praise thread concerning this, but that's only for prayer, not debate.

    Having heard some of the opposition to this bill from those against it at the hearing last night, I'm interested in what some of our Tweb posters would use as a basis for opposition.

    Here's the OP from the other thread - feel free to read it, but keep the debate here, please.

    Originally posted by Cow Poke View Post
    I'm on a conference call right now [This was last Monday] with the Attorney General Ken Paxton of Texas, some Texas political leaders, and a number of Pastors - most notably those who were involved in the Houston Religious Freedom battle.

    This is NOT for debate, but for prayer. [In this thread, however, it is] HB 3567 (the "Clergy Protection Bill") is a bill that would protect Pastors and Churches from government pressure or requirement to perform weddings for gays/lesbians or to have our Church Buildings be used for purposes that violate our deeply held religious beliefs, etc.

    I will be in Austin all day Wednesday with these other Pastors and politicians - and there should be a public hearing on this bill later in the day. There will be a meeting of Pastors on the South steps of the Capitol at Noon on Wednesday, and a Press Conference at noon-thirty (or so).

    Much of this is in response to Mayor Parker's threat to subpoena Pastors' notes, sermons, sermon preparation, discussions of meetings, etc....

    Please pray about this.

    Thanks
    "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

  • #2
    Here is the text of the bill:

    Originally posted by Cow Poke View Post
    Here is the text of the Bill....

    A BILL TO BE ENTITLED

    AN ACT
    relating to the rights of certain religious organizations and
    individuals relating to a marriage that violates a sincerely held
    religious belief.
    BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
    SECTION 1. Chapter 2, Family Code, is amended by adding
    Subchapter G to read as follows:
    SUBCHAPTER G. FREEDOM OF RELIGION WITH RESPECT TO RECOGNIZING OR
    PERFORMING CERTAIN MARRIAGES
    Sec. 2.601. RIGHTS OF CERTAIN RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS. A
    religious organization, an organization supervised or controlled
    by or in connection with a religious organization, an individual
    employed by a religious organization while acting in the scope of
    that employment, or a clergy or minister may not be required to
    solemnize any marriage, provide services, accommodations,
    facilities, goods, or privileges for a purpose related to the
    solemnization, formation, or celebration of any marriage, or treat
    any marriage as valid for any purpose if the action would cause the
    organization or individual to violate a sincerely held religious
    belief.
    Sec. 2.602. DISCRIMINATION AGAINST RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATION
    PROHIBITED. A refusal to provide services, accommodations,
    facilities, goods, or privileges under Section 2.601 is not the
    basis for a civil or criminal cause of action or any other action by
    this state or a political subdivision of this state to penalize or
    withhold benefits or privileges, including tax exemptions or
    governmental contracts, grants, or licenses, from any protected
    organization or individual.
    SECTION 2. This Act takes effect immediately if it receives
    a vote of two-thirds of all the members elected to each house, as
    provided by Section 39, Article III, Texas Constitution. If this
    Act does not receive the vote necessary for immediate effect, this
    Act takes effect September 1, 2015.
    "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

    Comment


    • #3
      sounds fair to me.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Cow Poke View Post
        Here is the text of the bill:
        Unless the church is renting out space as a public accommodation, it sounds like most of that is already protected under existing law. There would have be some explanation of what it means to be "in connection with a religious organization."
        "I wonder about the trees. / Why do we wish to bear / Forever the noise of these / More than another noise / So close to our dwelling place?" — Robert Frost, "The Sound of Trees"

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Sam View Post
          Unless the church is renting out space as a public accommodation, it sounds like most of that is already protected under existing law.
          Yeah, that's what "the Houston Five" (Pastors whose sermons and notes and stuff was subpoenaed by Houston Mayor Parker) thought. It has cost them HOURS of time and THOUSANDS of dollars defending this assumed protection under existing law. That's what (primarily) prompted this bill.

          There would have be some explanation of what it means to be "in connection with a religious organization."
          That seems to be the only point that the "opposed" lawyers questioned, and the lawyer for the Attorney General pointed out (some Latin legal term) that an item in a list is generally interpreted in the context of the intent of the majority of the rest of the list. Some of them tried to say that this gives a religiously affiliated hospital the right to deny a gay person the right to visit or speak for a hospitalized same sex partner. In all my years of ministry, I have NEVER seen hospital staff ask to see marriage licenses, or otherwise have somebody prove they're legally family.
          "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Cow Poke View Post
            Yeah, that's what "the Houston Five" (Pastors whose sermons and notes and stuff was subpoenaed by Houston Mayor Parker) thought. It has cost them HOURS of time and THOUSANDS of dollars defending this assumed protection under existing law. That's what (primarily) prompted this bill.
            I haven't followed up on that much at all but wasn't the Houston Five deal about the city wanting to look at sermon notes to see if the pastors had been preachin' politics?



            Originally posted by Cow Poke View Post
            That seems to be the only point that the "opposed" lawyers questioned, and the lawyer for the Attorney General pointed out (some Latin legal term) that an item in a list is generally interpreted in the context of the intent of the majority of the rest of the list. Some of them tried to say that this gives a religiously affiliated hospital the right to deny a gay person the right to visit or speak for a hospitalized same sex partner. In all my years of ministry, I have NEVER seen hospital staff ask to see marriage licenses, or otherwise have somebody prove they're legally family.
            We do have reported cases of hospitals refusing a same-sex partner access so I wouldn't say it's a vapid objection. I don't trust that these same folks arguing for a contextual reading, given King v. Burwell. Seems that needs to be tightened up.
            "I wonder about the trees. / Why do we wish to bear / Forever the noise of these / More than another noise / So close to our dwelling place?" — Robert Frost, "The Sound of Trees"

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Sam View Post
              I haven't followed up on that much at all but wasn't the Houston Five deal about the city wanting to look at sermon notes to see if the pastors had been preachin' politics?
              Yes, but the subpoena was incredibly overly broad, demanding ALL notes, including private conversations with members, emails, etc.... And what the Pastors were doing was not clearly illegal - it was a fishing expedition by Houston's Mayor .

              We do have reported cases of hospitals refusing a same-sex partner access so I wouldn't say it's a vapid objection. I don't trust that these same folks arguing for a contextual reading, given King v. Burwell. Seems that needs to be tightened up.
              I don't trust your liberal buddies to promise us they'll leave us alone, and not force us to do the things the Pastor Protection bill attempts to shield us from.
              Last edited by Cow Poke; 04-23-2015, 03:54 PM.
              "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Cow Poke View Post
                Yes, but the subpoena was incredibly overly broad, demanding ALL notes, including private conversations with members, emails, etc.... And what the Pastors were doing was not clearly illegal - it was a fishing expedition by Houston's Mayor.
                Sure ... but the text of that bill doesn't seem to address that situation at all.


                Originally posted by Cow Poke View Post
                I don't trust your liberal buddies to promise us they'll leave us alone, and not force us to do the things the Pastor Protection bill attempts to shield us from.
                But it doesn't look like that bill actually protects y'all from anything you're not already protected from under existing law.
                "I wonder about the trees. / Why do we wish to bear / Forever the noise of these / More than another noise / So close to our dwelling place?" — Robert Frost, "The Sound of Trees"

                Comment


                • #9
                  “Today, a bill under consideration in the Texas House State Affairs Committee would give religiously affiliated entities like hospitals and child welfare organizations authority to discriminate against almost any Texas family, two of the state’s leading religious liberties organizations warn.
                  “This is yet another example of an ill-conceived bill that pretends to protect religious freedom but, in truth, opens the doors to real harm,” said Kathy Miller, president of the Texas Freedom Network. “And, it invites to Texas the same uproar and condemnation we’ve seen with similar bills in Indiana and other states.”
                  Supporters portray HB 3567 by state Rep. Scott Sanford, R-McKinney, as simply protecting clergy from performing marriages that conflict with their religious beliefs. But the Constitution and Texas law already provide that protection, said Rebecca Robertson, legal and policy director for the ACLU of Texas.
                  “More troubling is that this bill goes much further,” Robertson said. “It would allow any religiously affiliated entity to pick and choose which lawful marriages it will recognize for any purpose. That would open the door to discrimination even in secular contexts, not just against same-sex couples, but also against interfaith couples, couples that include a previously divorced spouse, and even interracial couples.”
                  The Rev. Kyle Walker, pastor at Faith Presbyterian Church in Austin, echoed concerns that the bill flips the principle of religious freedom on its head.
                  “No pastor today is forced to perform a wedding that violates his or her religious beliefs, and our conscience is already protected under the law,” Walker said. “This bill is unnecessary and allows discrimination in the name of religion, in the name of God.”
                  HB 3567 would permit discrimination in a variety of secular circumstances. For example:
                  • A religiously affiliated adoption agency could refuse to place a child with an interfaith couple, regardless of the best interests of the child.
                  • A religious hospital could deny a legally married man the ability to make medical decisions for his spouse on the grounds that he was previously divorced.
                  • A faith-based social service organization that accepts tax dollars — like a homeless shelter or food bank — could decline to serve interracial families.
                  • A religious university could refuse to file federal tax forms for an employee in a legally recognized same-sex marriage.”
                  http://www.yourhoustonnews.com/east_...806dd608b.html
                  “I think God, in creating man, somewhat overestimated his ability.” ― Oscar Wilde
                  “And if there were a God, I think it very unlikely that He would have such an uneasy vanity as to be offended by those who doubt His existence” ― Bertrand Russell
                  “not all there” - you know who you are

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Sam View Post
                    Sure ... but the text of that bill doesn't seem to address that situation at all.
                    Actual lawyers at the hearing (I was there for 10 hours) disagree.

                    But it doesn't look like that bill actually protects y'all from anything you're not already protected from under existing law.
                    OK, here's the deal.... what it DOES is preemptive. There was nothing to prevent Houston's GLBBSTJTMAK machine from thinking they can subpoena those notes just because they wanted to. AFTER THE FACT, they were proven wrong, but it took a ton of work and money to defend these Pastors. It should NEVER have happened in the first place. The Pastor Protection bill removes the ambiguity to make it CLEAR that Pastors are, in fact, protected for free speech, and that the "compelling interests of the state" do not trump their right to free speech.

                    That is what has happened in the past - the state claims "compelling interest", and the fight is on.
                    "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by firstfloor View Post
                      “Today, a bill under consideration in the Texas House State Affairs Committee would give religiously affiliated entities like hospitals and child welfare organizations authority to discriminate against almost any Texas family, two of the state’s leading religious liberties organizations warn.
                      “This is yet another example of an ill-conceived bill that pretends to protect religious freedom but, in truth, opens the doors to real harm,” said Kathy Miller, president of the Texas Freedom Network. “And, it invites to Texas the same uproar and condemnation we’ve seen with similar bills in Indiana and other states.”
                      Supporters portray HB 3567 by state Rep. Scott Sanford, R-McKinney, as simply protecting clergy from performing marriages that conflict with their religious beliefs. But the Constitution and Texas law already provide that protection, said Rebecca Robertson, legal and policy director for the ACLU of Texas.
                      “More troubling is that this bill goes much further,” Robertson said. “It would allow any religiously affiliated entity to pick and choose which lawful marriages it will recognize for any purpose. That would open the door to discrimination even in secular contexts, not just against same-sex couples, but also against interfaith couples, couples that include a previously divorced spouse, and even interracial couples.”
                      The Rev. Kyle Walker, pastor at Faith Presbyterian Church in Austin, echoed concerns that the bill flips the principle of religious freedom on its head.
                      “No pastor today is forced to perform a wedding that violates his or her religious beliefs, and our conscience is already protected under the law,” Walker said. “This bill is unnecessary and allows discrimination in the name of religion, in the name of God.”
                      HB 3567 would permit discrimination in a variety of secular circumstances. For example:
                      • A religiously affiliated adoption agency could refuse to place a child with an interfaith couple, regardless of the best interests of the child.
                      • A religious hospital could deny a legally married man the ability to make medical decisions for his spouse on the grounds that he was previously divorced.
                      • A faith-based social service organization that accepts tax dollars — like a homeless shelter or food bank — could decline to serve interracial families.
                      • A religious university could refuse to file federal tax forms for an employee in a legally recognized same-sex marriage.”
                      http://www.yourhoustonnews.com/east_...806dd608b.html
                      Yes, that's what the militant GLBTGXPDJK witnesses tried to say, but even their own lawyers downplayed that at the hearing. Thank you for that excellent example of the mischaracterization of this bill.
                      "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Cow Poke View Post
                        Actual lawyers at the hearing (I was there for 10 hours) disagree.



                        OK, here's the deal.... what it DOES is preemptive. There was nothing to prevent Houston's GLBBSTJTMAK machine from thinking they can subpoena those notes just because they wanted to. AFTER THE FACT, they were proven wrong, but it took a ton of work and money to defend these Pastors. It should NEVER have happened in the first place. The Pastor Protection bill removes the ambiguity to make it CLEAR that Pastors are, in fact, protected for free speech, and that the "compelling interests of the state" do not trump their right to free speech.

                        That is what has happened in the past - the state claims "compelling interest", and the fight is on.
                        I'm just saying that the text of the bill doesn't seem to have anything to do with free speech. It's free association, at best.

                        If I remember right, the issue with the Houston Five was whether they were using the pulpit to advocate political goals (opposition to a referendum, if I remember right). That'd still be illegal, even given the text of this bill. And the bill is certainly much farther reaching than that, regardless of whether it's redundant.

                        ETA: Not illegal, I guess, but it would have disqualified their churches from tax exempt status.
                        "I wonder about the trees. / Why do we wish to bear / Forever the noise of these / More than another noise / So close to our dwelling place?" — Robert Frost, "The Sound of Trees"

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          The bill seems reasonable to me.

                          Wait, let me take a look at firstfloor's objections.

                          ...

                          Nah, the bill still seems reasonable to me.
                          Middle-of-the-road swing voter. Feel free to sway my opinion.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Wasn't this a non-debate thread?

                            "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." - Jim Elliot


                            "Forgiveness is the way of love." Gary Chapman

                            My Personal Blog

                            My Novella blog (Current Novella Begins on 7/25/14)

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Teallaura View Post
                              Wasn't this a non-debate thread?
                              I think the original thread, posted in a specific "faith and prayer" section, was non-debate.
                              "I wonder about the trees. / Why do we wish to bear / Forever the noise of these / More than another noise / So close to our dwelling place?" — Robert Frost, "The Sound of Trees"

                              Comment

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