Pastor Protection Bill Passes Senate Committee

May 5, 2015

Jonathan with Sen. Estes Pastor Hearing(620-240)Yesterday, the Senate State Affairs Committee successfully passed SB 2065, the Pastor/Clergy Protection Bill, by Sen. Craig Estes (pictured above). The next step is for SB 2065 to be scheduled for a vote by the full Senate!

Pastors hearing with Rep. Sanford

House author Rep. Scott Sanford gathers with Pastors supporting Pastor Protection Bill.

SB 2065 (and HB 3567 in the House) ensures that the government may not force a pastor, a clergy member or church to perform a marriage or related ceremony that would violate their sincerely held religious beliefs. Oral arguments at the U.S. Supreme Court last week on the same-sex marriage case revealed that it is unclear if specific protection exists for pastors on this issue in the future.

The ACLU unsuccessfully attempted to add an amendment to SB 2065 that legal experts at the hearing agreed introduces needless and dangerous ambiguity into what is currently clear statutory protection for clergy and ministers in the bill. The last thing we want is language that actually causes more confusion and results in more issues for a court to have to resolve. The goal of this bill is to protect clergy from the threat of litigation.  Clergy would likely be subject to more litigation from the ACLU amendment language. The bill language was already tweaked slightly in the House committee after concerns were raised. But, it’s not a surprise to us that groups like the ACLU and others are still looking for a reason to oppose this common sense religious freedom bill protecting pastors and churches.

Jonathan testifies

Texas Values Action President Jonathan Saenz testifying in favor of SB 2065.

Pastors from all over the state including Austin, San Antonio, Wylie, Corpus Christi, Fredericksburg, and Dallas testified in favor of the bill. Pastor Hernan Castano and David Welch, two of the Houston 5 pastors who were subpoenaed by the Mayor of Houston, testified in favor of the bill along with legal experts including Cleve Doty with Liberty Institute. In addition, Pastor Jack Graham of Prestonwood Baptist and Pastor Tony Evans of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship submitted letters of support. We even had a great group of pastors representing the support of “Cowboy Churches”!

Please continue to contact your Senator and House member and ask them to support SB 2065/HB 3567 and ask that it be heard and passed on the Senate and House Floor.

Please also share this important information with your church, family, and friends!

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