Texas Senate Passes Pastor Protection Bill
Austin, TX, May 12, 2015 –Today, a bipartisan vote of the Texas Senate gave final passage to the Pastor Protection bill, SB 2065 by Sen. Craig Estes (click here to view the vote). SB 2065 makes it clear that state law protects the rights of pastors and churches from being forced to perform or host marriage ceremonies that would violate their sincerely held religious beliefs. The identical bill, HB 3567, is scheduled for a House vote this week.
Jonathan Saenz, President of Texas Values Action made released this statement:
“We are now one step closer to making it clear in state law that the government cannot force pastors and churches to perform marriages that violate their religious beliefs. With the U.S. Supreme Court currently considering overturning state marriage laws and the Mayor of Houston ignoring the First Amendment by issuing a subpoena for pastor sermons, this law is timely and necessary.”
Faith leaders have made these statements in support of SB 2065:
“As a minister of God’s word, I cannot perform a marriage that violates my religious beliefs. I beseech you, as our elected officials, to protect those rights. I strongly support SB 2065 and I urge you to do the same.” Dr. Jack Graham, Pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church.
“The Texas Black Clergy Network would be profoundly disappointed, hurt, and frankly bewildered if this government body did not protect the very institution that spoke defiantly, unashamedly, and quite loudly I might add, against the practice of slavery. That is the Christian Church. Dare we silence these pulpits now? God forbid. We need their scriptural moral call now as we have needed it from the inception of our nation. If not on a national, at least we’ll hold forth in the great state of Texas.” Rev. Bob Jones, Texas Black Clergy Network
“As an immigrant that came to this nation, it troubles me greatly that the religious freedom that my parents sought is being eroded every day. When my sermons were subpoenaed by the government, I was shocked. Now I fear that my ability to perform marriages is threatened like never before. The protections guaranteed by SB 2065 are needed today.” Pastor Hernan Castano, Iglesia Rios de Aceite of Houston, Texas.
*Supported by: Texas Catholic Conference, Southern Baptist of Texas Convention, Baptist General Convention of Texas, Texas Pastor Council, Houston Area Pastor Council, the Coalition of African American Pastors, leaders of “Cowboy Churches”, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Pastor Jack Graham of Prestonwood Baptist Church, Pastor Tony Evans of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship, the “Houston 5” Pastors, Rev. Bob Jones of the Texas Black Clergy Network, Pastor Hernan Castano of Iglesia Rios de Aceite of Houston, Texas, Pastor Mark Gonzales of the Hispanic Action Network, and including over 50 different pastors and church leaders that attended hearings at the Capitol.
Gov. Greg Abbott voiced his support for SB 2065 last week.
About Texas Values Action
Texas Values Action is the 501(c)(4) advocacy arm of Texas Values, a non-profit organization dedicated to standing for faith, family, and freedom in Texas. More information is available at txvaluesaction.org.