TX governor signs bill to 'shield' pastors' sermons

By Bonnie Pritchett - Posted at Baptist Press:

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed legislation Sunday that prohibits Texas government
agencies from subpoenaing the sermons of religious leaders. (Facebook)

Senate Bill 24, authored by Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, protects clergy from government overreach in civil investigations. No governmental agency can force religious leaders to turn over their sermons or compel clergy to testify about their sermons according to the bill.

AUSTIN (BP) -- Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed legislation Sunday (May 21) that prohibits Texas government agencies from subpoenaing the sermons of religious leaders.

In a ceremony choreographed to highlight the bill's benefactors Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick signed the bill surrounded by Houston area clergy during the May 21 worship service at Grace Church, Woodlands, Texas.

Four of the five Houston pastors whose sermons became the target of a sweeping 2014 subpoena "fishing expedition" by City of Houston attorneys and then-Mayor Annise Parker joined the signing ceremony. In messages emphasizing spiritual and political courage, Abbott and Patrick also spoke of their Christian faith before signing the legislation that gives pastors protection from future incursions by the government into Texas houses of worship.

"We're grateful for the bill," Steve Riggle, one of the subpoenaed pastors, told Abbott and Patrick. "Thank you for that backup. We never thought we'd need that but this is a crazy day. We never thought we'd have to define 'men' and 'women' either but here we are."

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