The subpoenas were dropped, but the outrage continued in Houston, where the I Stand Sunday event drew a crowd of thousands to Grace Christian Church. Ostensibly an action in support of religious freedom, the event had a strong anti-LGBT message.
Some speakers made explicitly anti-LGBT remarks while others framed their concerns as being about religious liberty — but the impetus for the event makes its intent clear. It started with the city passing an LGBT nondiscrimination ordinance. After a repeal referendum failed to qualify for the ballot, some opponents of LGBT equality filed a lawsuit claiming that some signatures gathered in support of the repeal measure were incorrectly deemed invalid. As part of the discovery phase in that suit, the city subpoenaed materials (including sermons) from five pastors.
This has been construed as an attack on the “Houston five” and religious freedom. The fact that the subpoenas were dropped didn’t stop right-wing speakers at the rally from depicting anti-LGBT ministers and worshippers as victims.
Here are some choice quotes from I Stand Sunday:
1. “There is a connection between the growing hostility toward biblical Christianity here at home and persecution abroad. And the reason is very simple: If the policies of our own government toward Christians in America is intolerant, the message that that is sending to despots and to dictators in faraway places is that religious freedom is no longer a priority or even a concern for America.” — Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council
2. “For all you ladies in Texas ... when you’re seated in your restroom, putting on your Maybelline — when I need to take a leak, I’m not going there.” — Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty, in a reference to the ordinance's transgender rights component
3. “These subpoenas are just one front in a rapidly developing conflict, and the philosophy underlying this conflict is that sexual liberty trumps everything, including religious liberty. … This philosophy is why federal judges across the country are disregarding the will of millions of voters and striking down validly enacted marriage amendments … and this philosophy is why we at Alliance Defending Freedom find ourselves representing now, just recently, two Idaho pastors who were threatened with criminal fines and penalties for refusing to officiate at a same-sex ceremony. This is something that they said would never happen. … That day has come, and we are representing those pastors to protect their right to be free.” — Erik Stanley, Alliance Defending Freedom lawyer, repeating misleading and false claims about the owners of the Hitching Post. Also, last week at a Southern Baptist event, Stanley was the speaker who contended that Matthew Shepard's murder was not an antigay hate crime.
4. “If you would die for the image on that screen, could you not at least vote so that they would not live in an America where they would be told that they could not pray and preach and worship and believe as their conscience would tell you to do?” — Mike Huckabee, politician turned conservative pundit, after asking audience members to get out their phones and find photos of people for whom they’d be willing to die
5. “We have evil at our door, and you have got to decide whose team you’re on. ... This is the hour ... when we will stand up and be counted or this country will be lost.” — Rick Scarborough, founder and president of Vision America, addressing pastors in the crowd. He also proudly recalled fighting against comprehensive sex education.
6. “By God’s great and mighty hand, our faith once again remains free. But these threats are ever-present. They are coming from every direction and we must remain vigilant. If we speak with resounding voice and if we stand for religious liberty, the truth will prevail. Out of the rubble, we will restore the faith that is the rock of this nation.” — U.S. senator Ted Cruz of Texas, who didn’t attend the rally but recorded a message addressed to the crowd