Lessons from the Houston Church Subpoena Saga
Lessons from the Houston Church Subpoena Saga
Why it happened—and what pastors and leaders should know about their rights.

Update (October 29, 2014): Sister site ChristianityToday.com reports Houston's mayor has rescinded the five subpoenas after meeting on Tuesday with religious leaders.

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Update (October 24, 2014): Since this interview first published on October 17, 2014, new details have surfaced. Attorney Frank Sommerville provided us this update:

The city's premise (with rejecting the petition) seems questionable. The city attorney now claims that the petition was invalid because it did not contain the required number of valid signatures. To be valid, the petition must contain at least 17,000 valid signatures. Out of the 55,000 submitted signatures, the city attorney voided 38,000 signatures because he claimed that they were (1) printed instead of written in cursive, and/or (2) illegible. This caused the petition to be invalid. This is after the city secretary reviewed the signatures and certified that it contained at least the minimum number of required signatures. If the only issue is whether the signatures are valid, even if the signature was printed and/or illegible (the names are printed next to the signature for identification purposes), the subpoena to the pastors appears to be politically motivated to moot the voices of the pastors.

It will be very difficult to now claim that the pastors possess relevant knowledge as to whether the signatures should be valid as a matter of law.

On a related note, the petition drive challenging the ordinance recently passed in Fayetteville, Arkansas, which requires the matter be put to a general vote, continues to move forward. On October 24, 2014, the Fayetteville court ruled that the signatures were legible enough and ordered that the election take place in December.”

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Posted:
October 17, 2014

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