Houston—The following is a statement from the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas regarding the City of Houston’s recent subpoenas to pastors opposed to the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance:

“Freedom of conscience is a core American value. At the ACLU of Texas, we fight every day for the principle that each of us is free to pursue our faith without fear that government will query us about our beliefs or target those who hold disfavored points of view.

“While a lot of things are fair game in a lawsuit, government must use special care when intruding into matters of faith. The government should never engage in fishing expeditions into the inner workings of a church, and any request for information must be carefully tailored to seek only what is relevant to the dispute. We are glad that Mayor Parker has acknowledged that subpoenas issued in ongoing litigation were too broad and that there is no need to intrude on matters of faith to have equal rights in Houston. There was no need to include sermons in the subpoena in the first place.

“The ACLU of Texas strongly supports HERO, and looks forward to the day it is implemented in Houston. Every resident of our city deserves to be protected from unfair discrimination, whether on the basis of sexual orientation, race, gender, or religion.”

Read why the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance preserves religious liberty:

May 23, 2014, Op-Ed, by Rebecca L. Robertson, Legal and Policy Director, ACLU of Texas, Houston Chronicle:
http://m.chron.com/opinion/outlook/article/Robertson-Proposed-ordinance-doesn-t-create-5501302.php

Read more about the ACLU of Texas’s work to protect and defend the right to worship without interference from the government:

Supporting a Christian pastor and his faith-based rehabilitation facility in Sinton, Texas; urging the court to reverse a decision that had sharply limited the reach of the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act:
http://aclutx.org/article.php?aid=726

Supporting students in the Plano school district who wanted to include Christian messages in their holiday gift bags:
http://www.aclutx.org/blog/?p=706

Reporting on the threats to religious liberty in our public schools:
http://www.aclutx.org/download/86/

Defending the right of a Native American kindergartner to wear long hair according to his family’s spiritual practice:
http://www.aclutx.org/2010/07/09/fifth-circuit-upholds-religious-rights-of-american-indian-kindergartner/

Supporting an observant Jewish prisoner's right to receive kosher meals:
https://www.aclu.org/religion-belief/moussazadeh-v-tdcj-amicus-brief

Opposing a public high school's policy prohibiting students from wearing visible rosaries and crosses in the Brownsville Independent School District:
http://www.aclutx.org/2011/11/18/aclu-of-texas-demands-brownsville-isd-disclose-policies-banning-rosaries-and-crosses-at-school/

Filing a brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in support of a Texas state prisoner seeking damages after prison officials denied him the opportunity to participate in Christian worship services:
https://www.aclu.org/prisoners-rights-religion-belief/christian-prisoner-entitled-seek-monetary-damages-violation-his-rel

Supporting mothers who had been separated from their children by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS). The DFPS seized more than 450 children from their homes in Eldorado, Texas, following vague allegations about child abuse by some members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. While fully supporting the state's commitment to protecting children from abuse, we argued that Texas law and the U.S. Constitution required that the children be returned unless the state could provide the requisite evidence of abuse:
https://www.aclu.org/religion-belief/aclu-submits-brief-texas-flds-case-saying-state-cant-separate-families-based-solely-
https://www.aclu.org/religion-belief/judge-orders-children-returned-their-families

Read more about the ACLU’s work on religious liberty across the country:
http://www.aclu.org/defendingreligion

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