HOUSTON, Texas (ABP) — Moderate and conservative Baptists set aside differences in an Oct. 15 letter opposing subpoenas ordering five Houston pastors to turn over sermons as evidence in a lawsuit seeking repeal of the city’s non-discrimination ordinance.
Top leaders of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist General Convention of Texas and Southern Baptists of Texas Convention signed a letter to city officials terming the issuing of subpoenas of sermons as “improper and unwarranted” and asking Mayor Annise Parker to acknowledge it was a mistake and ensure that it does not happen again.
According to a press release, the coalition was organized by Russell Moore, head of the SBC Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, working with Brent Walker, executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty.
The Baptists signing the letter said they “disagree on many things” but as Baptists “have a long history of support for religious liberty and separation of church and state.”
“On that, we stand united,” they said. “Our ancestors stood in the colonial and revolutionary eras demanding the disestablishment of state churches, the end to state licensing of preachers, and the cessation of penalties for religious dissenters. Our forebears — some of whom were imprisoned — petitioned for a First Amendment guarantee of religious liberty, for everyone, because we believe as Baptists that God alone is Lord of the conscience.”