After a withering national scorn — and a barrage of Bibles — Houston’s mayor has withdrawn her city’s subpoenas against five pastors, dubbed the “Houston Five“, demanding their speeches and sermons.
Mayor Annise Parker claimed she had no intention of infringing on anyone’s religious freedoms but instead was only trying to help the city defend itself in a lawsuit challenging the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance that was rammed through without the input of voters, reported KHOU.
“After much contemplation and discussion, I am directing the city legal department to withdraw the subpoenas issued to the five Houston pastors who delivered the petitions, the anti-HERO petitions, to the city of Houston and who indicated that they were responsible for the overall petition effort,” said Parker.
“All I was focused on was Houston,” she continued. “And I was inundated with a lot of hate speech and hate mail and really virulent attacks. Well, you just kind of put the shell up when that happens.”
She might have gotten hate mail. Her office also received up to 1,000 Bibles sent by believers around the country praying she would change her mind.
She said she reached the decision after meeting with church leaders who came to reason with her about religious freedom.
“They indicated that they believed that I had inadvertently stepped into a broader conversation that perhaps I didn’t want to make the city part of,” Parker said. “And they were correct.”
Andy Taylor, the attorney for the Houston Five isn’t buying it.
“Dont be seduced into believing that the mayor’s had a change of heart,” he said. “Todays press conference by the mayor pulling down the subpoenas is just a head fake.”
Steve Riggle, pastor of Grace Community Church, wasn’t buying it either.
“If the mayor thought the subpoenas were wrong, she would’ve pulled them immediately, not waited until she was forced to by national outrage,” he said.
In spite of the mayor’s decision opponents of the ordinance are still planning a church rally on Sunday that they hope will garner national attendance.
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