FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ADF attorneys defend church’s right to speak out for El Paso citizensChurch responds to lawsuit filed by mayor seeking to silence the church
Friday, October 07, 2011
ADF attorney sound bite: Joel Oster
EL PASO, Texas — Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund filed a counterclaim Friday against the mayor of El Paso, Texas in a lawsuit the mayor initiated against Tom Brown Ministries, the Word of Life Church of El Paso, El Pasoans for Traditional Family Values, and other local citizens. The mayor’s suit is an attempt to silence the church from speaking out against the mayor’s policies impacting El Paso families.
“Pastors and churches shouldn’t live in fear of being punished or penalized by the government,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Joel Oster. “That’s exactly why the Constitution protects religious freedom. Subjecting a pastor to criminal sanctions for speaking out against a public official is something we might expect in a communist country, but not America.”
In November, 2010, the citizens of El Paso - by popular petition - were able to place on the ballot and passed an ordinance prohibiting unmarried domestic partner benefits. Certain members of the city council disagreed with this vote by the citizenry, and subsequently voted to rescind the ordinance. In response to the council’s defiance of the people’s expressed will, a grassroots recall campaign was commenced to remove the mayor and council members who ignored the vote of the people from office. The mayor then filed suit alleging that the church violated Texas election law by circulating a petition. Violation of the election law is a third degree felony.
ADF filed the counterclaim because the mayor’s actions chill the constitutional rights of the church and the citizens, including their rights to free speech and to petition their government for the redress of grievances.
“Our Constitution protects churches and their independence from undue government interference or intimidation regarding freely speaking out on issues that concern the community,” said Oster. “That’s why ADF has come alongside Word of Life Church and other El Paso citizens to defend their right to hold their elected officials accountable for their actions.”
- ADF “Speak Up” Church website
- Pronunciation guide: Oster (OH-STIR)
ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.