City of Houston to Pastors: Show Us Your Sermons

Last week, the city of Houston issued subpoenas to five local pastors for “all speeches, presentations, or sermons related to HERO [Houston Equal Rights Ordinance], the Petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity prepared by, delivered by, revised by, or approved by you or in your possession.”

One provision of the ordinance that started the controversy would allow people access to restrooms of the opposite sex if they identify as transgender. Citizens who opposed the measure initiated a petition drive to put a repeal referendum on the ballot, collecting thousands of signatures in the process. The city attorney rejected the petition, claiming irregularities affecting many of the signatures (over 50,000 were submitted for the required number of 17,259). Some of the citizens associated with the petition sued, which prompted lawyers representing the city to issue the subpoenas to, in the words of a Houston Chronicle story, “several high-profile pastors and religious leaders who have been vocal in opposing the ordinance.” This despite the fact that the pastors were not actually parties involved with the lawsuit.

Should the city of Houston be able to issue these subpoenas? What are the larger implications of the situation? And should the pastors comply? Some relevant thoughts from around the web:

You Can Help Alleviate Holiday-Themed Distress

I vividly recall one Christmas in the late 1990′s that really sucked. I’m sorry, I do realize that ESI is a church blog, but there’s really no other word for it; to this day, that particular year stands out in memory as the single-worst celebration of Christmas ever. It followed hard on the heels of

Getting Ready for Sunday Oct. 19th at The Crossing

Prepare Worship on a Sunday starts before Sunday morning. That’s true not just for the band and the pastor and tech crew but for all of us. When you prepare ahead of time, you are getting yourself in the right frame of mind and heart. It gives you a chance to read the Bible passage in advance, see the song list, and get yourself ready. You can see some of the rationale here. Keith Simon this week continues our series in 1 Corinthians with a sermon entitled, “Living for the Audience of One” from 1 Corinthians 4:1–5. The Scripture reads,

The Benefits of Adversity and Affliction

In his interesting book, The Happiness Hypothesis, Jonathan Haidt lays out a hypothetical exercise… Imagine that you have a child, and for five minutes you’re given a script of what will be that child’s life. You get an eraser. You can edit it. You can take out whatever you want. You read that your child

Christianity and Sports: Does God Care Who Wins?

With football season in full swing and both the Cardinals and the Royals a few wins away from the World Series, it’s a great time to be a sports fan in central Missouri. This month’s Point of Focus talks through two perspectives on the relationship between sports and our faith.

A Willingness to ‘Suffer’

Since late August, I have been immersed in learning more about the Apostle Paul. As a latecomer to Christ – and someone who previously took great pleasure in mocking “weak-willed” and “crutch-needing” Christians – the life and ministry of Paul intersects with my own in more than a few uncomfortable places. Both of us once

Songs & Scenes: Sunday Liturgy Recap, October 12, 2014

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Songs and Scenes is a weekly blog review of songs, readings and prayers featured in The Crossing’s Sunday morning liturgy. Today’s liturgy recap features photos by Scott Myers. You’ll find links in the song titles that will allow you to purchase recorded versions of the songs when available.

The Crossing Music recently released “Liturgy of the Seasons–Volume 1: Autumn’s March”; a new E.P. featuring many songs from today’s service. Check it out on vinyl, C.D. or digital download at