Sermon Protection Act Signed Into Law While Texas House Stalls On Other, Related Reform

sermon-protection (620-240)

In a triumph for religious liberty in Texas while surrounded by the “Houston 5” pastors, Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law SB 24, the Sermon Protection Bill at a church in The Woodlands, Texas, today.

Unfortunately, its complementary bill – designed to address the root cause of why SB 24 was needed – is being held up by the leadership of the Texas House of Representatives.

SB 24, authored by Sen. Joan Huffman, was drafted largely in response to the subpoenaing of sermons of five Houston pastors in wake of opposition to Houston’s “bathroom ordinance” which allowed men into women’s restrooms. The subpoenas were seen as official retaliation against church ministers who dared to address the Mayor of Houston’s radical LGBT ordinance in their sermons and pulpits, putting unnecessary and unconstitutional burdens on those churches. Sen. Huffman’s office asked Texas Values attorney and president Jonathan Saenz to serve as an witness on this issue and offer supportive testimony in favor of SB 24 in the Texas Senate committee. Mr. Saenz testified in favor SB 24 and the legislation quickly passed the Senate and later the Texas House.

SB 6, The Texas Privacy Act, would keep men out of women’s restrooms in Texas schools and government buildings and stop much of what Houston’s bathroom ordinance attempted to do. SB 6 was passed in the Senate but has been stalled in the Texas House by Rep. Byron Cook and Speaker of the House Joe Straus.

“We congratulate Sen. Huffman on the passage of the Sermon Protection Act, we thank Gov. Abbott for his devotion to protect our First Amendment liberties, and we are grateful we were able to play a role in this effort,” said Jonathan Saenz, President of Texas Values. “While we celebrate SB 24, the privacy in bathrooms issue was why sermons were subpoenaed, and privacy protection legislation has been stalled by Rep. Byron Cook and Speaker Straus. More parents and children have fallen victim to this absence of state protection, Coppell ISD in North Texas being the location for the most recent privacy violation. We look forward to seeing Gov. Abbott and Lt. Gov. Patrick lead the way to protect privacy before the legislative session concludes in one week.”

Click here to see details about the most recent violation of privacy in a Texas public bathroom.

A list of privacy violation incidents from across Texas may be read here.

Gov. Abbott has indicated he would sign SB 6 if it came to his desk, yet House leadership has refused to assign the bill to a committee for over two months. A House version, HB 2899, was held up in Chairman Byron Cook’s State Affairs committee for weeks until a key deadline passed.

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