- Associated Press - Saturday, May 6, 2017

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

The chamber voted 139-2 on Saturday to pass a bill that overwhelmingly cleared the state Senate in March. A similar 2015 measure also passed the Senate, but didn’t become law.

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

The “sermon safeguard” bill prohibits seeking written copies or audio recordings of religious orations “in any civil proceeding to which the governmental entity is a party.”


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