(Quin Hillyer, Liberty Headlines) Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Sunday will sign a bill protecting religious sermons from subpoenas – a key, state-level example of a national blowback against perceived threats to free religious expression.

The governor’s press release said the new law “will prevent Texas state and local governments from issuing a subpoena for religious sermons, and protects religious leaders from being compelled to testify regarding their sermons. Steve Riggle, whose sermons were subpoenaed by the city of Houston in 2014, is the Pastor at Grace Community Church and will be in attendance for the ceremony, in addition to other faith leaders affected by the Houston subpoenas.”

Riggle was one of five pastors whose sermons were subpoenaed in 2014, at the order of Houston’s then-mayor Annise Parker, who implied that the churches were “illegally” conducting politics (without the usual political or financial restrictions) under cover of religious expression, when the pastors were arguing against the forced establishment of co-ed bathrooms.

Specifically, the subpoena asked for “all speeches, presentations or sermons related to [an “equal rights ordinance” pertaining to bathrooms and homosexuality, among other things], the petition [concerning that ordinance], Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity.”

Mayor Parker is openly homosexual, and wanted to treat, as a criminal matter, sermons that were critical of her and her pro-gay ordinance.

The broader Texas issue is one that has been roiling the waters nationally for years. In 2014, the IRS sent a letter to the Justice Department demanding “high priority examination” of sermons and weekly church bulletins from 99 churches for allegedly illegal electioneering activities. The IRS in effect was supporting an atheist group’s long-running efforts to stifle traditionalist messages from the likes of Catholic priests and Billy Graham’s ministry.

The “Freedom From Religion Foundation” has based much of its agenda on a law known as the “Johnson Amendment,” which traditionalist religious-rights groups say is an attack on free religious speech….

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