FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 03/12/2015
Rep. Sanford files Clergy Protection Legislation
(Austin, TX) Today, Texas House of Representatives member Scott Sanford (McKinney) has filed a bill to make it clear in state law the First Amendment rights of clergy, pastors and churches in Texas apply to the issue of marriage. The bill 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. The bill makes it clear that the government cannot use civil or criminal action as a means of punishment on this issue. As the Executive Pastor of Cottonwood Creek Baptist Church, Rep. Sanford understands the importance of protecting the freedom of religion for faith leaders.
“Pastors and churches should not have to live in fear that the government will force them to perform marriages that violate their sincerely held religious beliefs. Five pastors in Houston were recently subpoenaed by the mayor for discussions that included biblical interpretations related to marriage on church property. Many faith leaders are now concerned about the threat of continuing government intrusion and infringement on these issues. HB 3567 makes it clear that Texas should remain a place where government respects the diversity of religious beliefs on these matters of faith and marriage.”