Activists and faith leaders who are concerned about the current state of religious liberty in America are gathering in Houston, Texas, Sunday night to host "I Stand Sunday," an event that will focus on the "freedom to live out ... faith free of government intrusion or monitoring."
Hosted by the Family Research Council, a faith-based, conservative organization, "I Stand Sunday" will take place at Grace Community Church in Houston, but will be aired live via webcast and at 2,500 churches and home groups across the nation starting at 7 p.m. ET.
The catalyst for the gathering is the city of Houston's now-withdrawn subpoena of pastors' homosexuality themed speeches and sermons — a request for documentation that stirred a nationwide controversy, sparking concerns over religious freedom and government intrusion in church affairs.
"We will stand with pastors and churches in Houston, Texas who have been unduly intimidated by the city's mayor in demanding they hand over private church communication," reads an official event description.
Watch a trailer for "I Stand Sunday" below:
Attendees and viewers of the webcast will hear from the five preachers who were targeted by the subpoenas — Pastors Hernan Castano, Dave Welch, Magda Hermide, Khanh Huynh and Steve Riggle — as well as Phil and Al Robertson of "Duck Dynasty," the Benham brothers, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and many others.
Event host Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said in a statement that the event is a call for Christians to stand up for religious freedom and against those who he says are trying to silence believers.
"Pastors have every right under the Constitution to speak to these issues but from a biblical perspective, they have a mandate to do so. We cannot grow silent in the face of political intimidation," he said. "We must stand up for the freedom to live out our faith free of government intrusion and monitoring."
As TheBlaze previously reported, the controversial subpoenas, which were issued in September, sought, “all speeches, presentations, or sermons related to HERO, the Petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity prepared by, delivered by, revised by, or approved by you or in your possession."
The subpoenas were issued in the midst of an ongoing court battle between conservative activists opposed to a recently adopted equal rights ordinance and the Houston government.
The debate heated up after the ordinance's passage earlier this year, when faith leaders decided to collect signatures to get a referendum on a November ballot; they ended up with more than the 17,269 required names.
But after the city examined the documentation to see if signatories were Houston residents and had signed relevant pages — requirements for petitioning — they subsequently rejected a substantial number of the signatures, derailing activists’ and pastors’ attempts to bring the ordinance to a public vote.
Activists and faith leaders responded by suing the city, which is what, in turn, led officials to subpoena documents — including sermons — from some of the houses of worship linked to activists who have vocally opposed and worked against the ordinance.
But the public reacted strongly to the subpoenaing of pastoral speeches and between 500 and 1,000 Bibles were recently sent in protest to Parker's office; as a result, the mayor withdrew the subpoena.