The case of outrageous government intimidation of private citizens, organizations, and local Houston pastors by Mayor Annise Parker is still reverberating in shock through our nation. It is a story that isn’t going away anytime soon, nor should it. Short of having evidence of a crime or conspiracy to a crime the corrupt Mayor Parker and the Houston City Council is having to learn the hard way that they have to deal with the consequences of their actions and the bills that they ram down the throats of their citizens. Throwing a political tantrum and indulging in a massive case of revenge among those whom you disagree with by violating their free speech and freedom of religion will only earn you a backhand from the Constitution.
Liberty minded people all over America have responded in appropriate shock and righteous indignation. And my hope is that this serves to wake The Church. Christians have set on the sidelines too long, apathetically allowing others to pull their weight, while they lazily sit at home and scream at the television during the nightly news. You get the government you deserve and this is the result of a detached, indifferent, disinterest in politics on behalf of Christians.
However, I came across a fantastic letter to Mayor Parker written by the Senior Pastor, Ryan Rush, at Kingsland Baptist Church– right outside of Houston- that I felt needed to be shared. I have high hopes that many pastors, just like Pastor Rush who isn’t directly effected by this subpoena because he doesn’t live in Houston, will likewise join hands with those who are under-fire and stand firmly on their principles in defiance of an unjust attack.
October 18, 2014
Dear Mayor Parker,
I do not live in the City of Houston, but serve as the pastor of a wonderful, giving congregation just west of you in Katy. We have a significant number of members who live and work in Houston, so what happens there matters greatly to both our members and me. Even more, the decisions you and your staff have made in the past week have been disturbing for pastors and other leaders throughout our country, and we have taken notice.
To be clear, Christians have no expectations that every elected official will agree with us on all points. To the contrary, God has used leaders who did not follow Him throughout history. However, there is a time in which pastors are called to speak out on abused leadership privileges. In Acts 16, the magistrates of Philippi sought to slither away from some poor leadership decisions with double speak and maneuvering. After Paul was illegally beaten and imprisoned, when the leaders sought to distance themselves, Paul proclaimed boldy, “… Do they now throw us out secretly? No! Let them come themselves and take us out.”
There is a time when bluffs should be called – and this moment seems appropriate.
The reason you have experienced such overwhelming backlash over the past few days has to do with your desire to control something that is a cherished trust in our nation’s history: the communications of clergy with their congregations – including those of the dissemination of the Scriptures from the pulpits of our region. Whether it is your intent or not, this comes across as an act of intimidation – one that flies in the face of the First Ammendment of our Nation’s Constitution.
I can assure you that your attempts will work in the opposite manner you and your staff may be seeking: I know thousands of pastors who will not – and cannot – be muzzled in sharing the truth of God’s Word. Such acts stir us all the more to hold fast to sound doctrine. I have enclosed a transcript of the message I preached Sunday at Kingsland for your review. The audio and video messages are both available online as well, and I’d be delighted for you to watch and listen. Yes: I spoke about politics. And yes: I mention you by name – both privileges I am given by the freedoms purchased by countless brave men and women who have fought and died for the liberties we now enjoy.
In 25 years of ministry, I have never told a congregation for whom they should vote – not because I am afraid of the brow-beaters, but because it isn’t necessary. When the truth is proclaimed, the options tend to become clear for most Christians. Such has been the case in the past week under your leadership.
I commit to praying for you in the days ahead. Feel free to call on me if I may offer any further insight.
Senior Pastor, Kingsland Baptist Church
This reminds me of a poignant quote on the topic from a friend and fellow political writer and commentator that I have come to admire, Pastor John Kirkwood:
“If you go to a church in Houston, and your pastor was not subpoenaed, you’re in the wrong church.”
I’d add that if your pastor isn’t responding with a similar letter, in or outside the Houston city limits, you might want to begin looking for a stronger and bolder leader in the pulpit.