Texas Senate OKs barring government from subpoenaing sermons

Texas Senate OKs barring government from subpoenaing sermons

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - The Texas Senate has unanimously approved prohibiting government entities from compelling pastors and other religious leaders to divulge the contents of their sermons in civil legal cases.

Wednesday's 31-0 vote sends Houston Sen. Joan Huffman's measure to the state House. She sponsored a similar proposal that cleared the Senate last session but stalled without becoming law.

In 2014, the city of Houston sought to subpoena sermons and speeches by five Houston pastors who opposed a local gay rights ordinance. Those subpoenas were dropped, though, amid outcry over freedom of speech and religion.

Huffman's so-called "sermon safeguard" bill prohibits governments from seeking written copies or audio or voice recordings of orations delivered "during religious worship in any civil proceeding to which the governmental entity is a party."

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