Baptists must let their voices be heard, said Southern Baptist Convention president Ronnie Floyd.
Floyd is one of several speakers from across the nation slated to speak Nov. 2 at the “I Stand Sunday” simulcast hosted by Family Research Council and other partners. The event is being held in response to five Houston ministers being issued subpoenas by the city’s attorney to turn over sermons and other pastoral communications. See related story.
Floyd, pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas, responded on his blog Monday (Oct. 20) to news reports involving the ministers and how he believes America’s religious freedom is being challenged. The city’s actions remain a “blatant example of governmental overreach,” Floyd noted — even if the word “sermons” was struck from the subpoenas on Oct. 17.
“Regardless of the nature of communications they want from the pastors and churches, this … is a clear attempt to silence the voice of the Church in Houston, Texas, America, and the world,” Floyd wrote.
The free live simulcast, to be held at Grace Church in Houston, will focus on “the freedom to live out our faith free of government intrusion or monitoring,” the website istandsunday.com said.
“We will stand with pastors and churches in Houston, Texas who have been unduly intimidated by the city’s Mayor in demanding they hand over private church communication,” the site said.
Among others slated to speak: former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, Duck Dyanasty’s Phil and Alan Robertson, Todd Starnes of Fox News and Vision America President Rick Scarborough. The list of speakers also includes David and Jason Benham, whose show — scheduled to air this fall on the Home & Garden Television network — was canceled in May after the Benhams’ Christian views on abortion and same-sex marriage were publicized by gay activists.
Religious liberty is one issue Baptists must not be silent on, Floyd said in his blog.
“Southern Baptist family, we must rise up together and be clear in Houston and beyond,” he said. “While many in mainline denominations will shy away from this discussion, and some evangelicals may also be silent, as Baptists, we must rise up and be very clear.”
Pointing to the Baptist Faith and Message, Floyd stated Southern Baptists “believe that the state owes every church protection and freedom in the pursuit of its spiritual end.”
Floyd added, “God alone is the Lord of the conscience and Government has no right to manipulate or intimidate any of us regarding religious conviction and practice.
“Southern Baptists have always stood tall for religious liberty. Our heritage is stacked high with heroes who have stood in tough times, defending religious liberty. We defend religious liberty at home and across the world.”
On Oct. 17, Baptist Press reported Baptists — even those firmly divided on various theological issues — were united by Houston Mayer Annise Parker’s subpoenas to a group of pastors who opposed the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, known as HERO to the measure’s supporters.
In HERO, the words “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” have been added to a list of protected classifications, such as race, religion, sex and disability.
Opponents of the Houston ordinance, according to news reports, are concerned it will violate the religious freedom of business owners and others who disagree with the measure. They also fear it will make women and children vulnerable to sexual predators by permitting people to use public restrooms of the gender they identify with rather than those of their natural gender.
Floyd urged Baptist to express support and commit to pray for the five ministers who are involved in the subpoenas by using #4Houston5 through social media.