Georgia’s attorney general has ordered Dr. Eric Walsh, a Seventh-day Adventist lay minister, to relinquish his “sermon notes and/or transcripts” to the government. Walsh was hired as a District Health Director by the Georgia Department of Public Health back in May of 2014. One week later, a government official asked him to submit copies of his sermons for review. At the time, he complied with the request. Two days later he was fired.
According to Fox News, his attorneys say the government was “curious” about sermons Dr. Walsh delivered on health, marriage, sexuality, world religions, science and creationism. Dr. Walsh, who is black, also preached about Biblical views on homosexuality.
He has since filed a federal lawsuit charging Georgia state officials with religious discrimination, and says that he will not comply with the request.
“Please produce a copy of your sermon notes and/or transcripts,” Attorney General Samuel Olens said in a letter to attorneys representing the minister.
Walsh reacted to the directive by exclaiming: “No government has the right to require a pastor to turn over his sermons. I cannot and will not give up my sermons unless I am forced to do so.”
“He was fired for something he said in a sermon,” Walsh attorney Jeremy Dys told the Fox News network’s Todd Starnes. “If the government is allowed to fire someone over what he said in his sermons, they can come after any of us for our beliefs on anything.” Dys said the government’s “request,” in actuality, carries the same force of law as a subpoena. He further stated: “I think it is wrong for a state to demand that a pastor turn over his sermons at any time. It was wrong for the state to ask Dr. Walsh for his sermons as part of the job application and hiring process. It was wrong for them to turn around and fire him when they listened to those sermons. And it is wrong now for them to demand that he turn over all the sermons and sermon notes he ever produced going back to when he was 18 years old.”
This is not the first time Pastor Walsh has been the victim of intense anti-Christian discrimination. He was invited to deliver Pasadena [California] City College’s 2014 commencement address. At the time, he was the director of that city’s public health department. LGBT activists- and students- came unglued after someone found online copies of his sermons. He decided against delivering the commencement address, but that didn’t mollify his (tolerant and inclusive!) critics, of course, and he was forced to resign his post. Soon afterwards, he applied for the position in Georgia.
Family Research Council president Tony Perkins called the state’s demand “an alarming display of government intrusion into the sanctity of the church, pastor’s study and pulpit. This is something that I would have expected to see in a communist country, not America,” Perkins told Starnes. “Government scrutiny of speech in the pulpit is unconstitutional and unconscionable.”
Emir Caner, president of Georgia’s Truett-McConnell University, said: “A new era has come to our shores, a time where government finds it acceptable to suppress the freedom of religion even to the extent of requesting a minister’s sermons. As an ordained minister, I know that this is not merely an assault on the messenger, but on the very message of our Sacred Scriptures.” Caner also noted that the government seems to target biblical Christianity exclusively. “What the government fails to recognize is that ministers of the Gospel are not hirelings of the state, but ambassadors for our Lord,” he proclaimed.
Oddly enough, no government entity ever requested copies of Pastor Jeremiah Wright’s “God Damn America” sermons, nor does the government have the stomach for abridging any American-based Imam’s freedom of speech.
The Georgia attorney general could ask a judge to enforce the state’s request. In that case, if Pastor Walsh still refused to comply, he could face contempt of court charges.
More and more frequently in the West, quoting, referencing…or living out biblical principles…is considered a crime by- and against- the state. This religious intolerance was anathema to the Founders, and is a hallmark of totalitarianism. If not soon- and successfully- challenged here, all of those who died in the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, World Wars I and II- and all of America’s other conflicts- will have their sacrifices ultimately- and perhaps permanently- dishonored.