Donna Campbell is Saving the Alamo!

Categories: Religion, Texas

Image by Monica Fuentes
Don't worry about the Alamo y'all. State Sen. Donna Campbell has got this.

She's finally done it. After spending countless hours and plenty of oxygen politicking for patently ridiculous things, state Sen. Donna Campbell has finally come up with a bill we can actually support. She's saving the Alamo, y'all!

Well, sort of.

See, last summer the Alamo, the site of the 13 Days of Glory, that quintessential symbol of all that is Texas -- a certain disregard for orders and the ability to fight against a much larger and better equipped army and hang on for longer than anyone would have bet -- became a World Heritage Site through the United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organization (yeah, we're talking UNESCO.)

The process, which encompassed all of San Antonio's ancient missions and took six years to complete, was overseen by Jerry Patterson, then-Texas General Land Commissioner. The deal is supposed to bring in more money (more than $100 million) and more jobs (more than 1,000) by 2025, according to a report from the Harbinger Consulting Group. Otherwise, the official word goes that nothing is supposed to change.

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Evangelist Sued by Disabled Woman Who Claims He Tricked Her Out of Settlement Money

Categories: Crime, Religion

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Tim & Selena Middleton via Flickr Creative Commons
Nothing screams "proper evangelist" quite like a brand new Harley Davidson motorcycle, right? Right.

According to a report by the Courthouse News Service, Marilyn Rupard's lawsuit against John David Crow, filed in Brazoria County earlier this month, claims that Crow, a Texas evangelist-slash-investment-advisor, tricked her out of hundreds of thousands of dollars she got due to a faulty hip replacement, and spent some of that money on -- you guessed it -- a Harley.

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Catholic Charities Accused of Covering Up Years of Sexual Abuse by Employees

The family of a child who was abused by an employee at Catholic Charities has filed a lawsuit claiming that the charity has a long, troubling history of covering up sexual assault cases.

The family of the victim filed the lawsuit last week, naming Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston and Carlos Valera, a former program coordinator at the charity who is now serving a 7 year jail sentence for child sexual assault, as defendants.

The lawsuit claims the organization has shown "willful disregard for the well-being of others" and has covered up abuse at the charity for nearly a decade.

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Pat Robertson Says God Has This Creepy, Violent Message for Houston

Categories: Religion, Whatever

Following the City of Houston's ill-advised move to subpoena a bunch of local pastors, we were treated to a smorgasbord of outrage. On one end of the spectrum, the Chron's more mild-mannered editorial board called the subpoenas "Orwellian." Glenn Beck, meanwhile, rage-wept that the situation was "more dangerous to the Republic of Texas than Ebola."

Televangelist Pat Robertson -- who thinks an earthquake ravaged Haiti because of a pact with the devil (for real) -- first called local proponents of LGBT rights "terrorists." But even last week's announcement from Mayor Annise Parker and City Attorney David Feldman that they would drop the controversial subpoenas wasn't enough to calm Robertson, who followed up with his own unhinged "message" for Houston that, naturally, involves a deadly tale of biblical gang rape.

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The City Is Withdrawing Sermon Subpoenas, So Stop Sending Bibles

carl & tracy gossett
The City of Houston is withdrawing the controversial "sermon subpoenas" that targeted five local religious leaders who vocally fought the city's equal rights ordinance, Mayor Annise Parker announced Wednesday.

"I am directing the city legal department to withdraw the subpoenas," said Parker.

Parker's announcement came amid heavy criticism over the subpoenas, which targeted local pastors who were particularly critical of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance and worked with activists who petitioned to repeal it. The city is now fighting a lawsuit against a group of Christian activists who say they got enough signatures to put the anti-discrimination policy to a public ballot referendum; the city threw out entire pages of signatures, saying they were incorrectly gathered and that the petition failed to meet the mark.

Conservative leaders responded to the subpoenas with outrage, urging people to send sermons and bibles to the Mayor as a form of protest.

According to Parker's spokesperson, their office has received somewhere between 500 and 1,000 bibles so far.

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Meyerland Hipster Church Courts Impossible Demographic

Photo by Susan Du
Kathy McDougall, Angie Boudreaux, Jenni Fairbanks, Earl Fairbanks and Jackie Brown gather for a fellowship dinner at the Fairbankses' house.

Angie Boudreaux grew up in her grandmother's conservative Southern Baptist church an odd child who loved going every week just to hear the preacher preach. Eventually, she became a Sunday school teacher and made her living helping young girls read the Bible.

It would have been a straightforward story, except a super-awkward thing happened to Boudreaux at the end of high school. After much internal wrangling over whether hanging out with lesbians all the time was just something that jock girls did, Boudreaux had to admit she had fallen in love with her best friend, another woman.

She cried, she prayed and others prayed with her, but she stayed gay. Some years later, when church leadership found out, they told her she couldn't be trusted with teaching children.

Jackie Brown is not gay. But after college, when she tried to reconnect with Christianity, a church leader called her an adulteress for living with her then-boyfriend (now husband). It didn't help that she was then barred from singing in the church choir because she also sang at a bar on weeknights.

"The church didn't pay me," Brown said. "The bar did."

The Rev. Jenni Fairbanks was quick to interject that her church hired Brown precisely because of her professional experience. "She logged her hours," Fairbanks said with a shrug.

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Church Beats Out Strip Club in Real Estate Grab

Categories: Religion, Whatever

That's how the song goes, right?

Sunday morning, Ecclesia Church pastor Chris Seay announced to his congregation that the staff had successfully wrested a warehouse out of the hands of strippers for the future location of its church services.

Rapidly expanding Ecclesia had already moved once from Montrose to the First Ward in search of more space to accommodate its growing flock. Then, it set eyes on The Meridian night club in EaDo when it first went on the market in 2009. The stars didn't align at the time, but recently when the 50,000 square feet property at 1503 Chartres St. became available again, Ecclesia pounced and signed a contract to purchase the place.

The also-ran in that transaction: Treasures strip club, according to real estate blog Swamplot.

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Equal Rights Law Bound for Trial After Pointless Hearing

Photo by Susan Du
Anti-HERO lawyer Andy Taylor called Friday's hearing a great success. Nothing changes in Houston.

Legal jargon, heated accusations and random baseball metaphors aside, Friday's Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) hearing accomplished nothing. The law is suspended until its supporters and opponents duke it out at trial, set for January 2015.

HERO is Mayor Annise Parker's anti-discrimination law that gives legal protection to citizens who are maltreated because of their age, religion, race, gender and sexual orientation. Private businesses and government are subject to comply, but religious institutions are exempt.

Nevertheless, representatives of the religious right have banded together in an effort to repeal HERO ever since it became law in late May. Anti-HERO activists circulated a petition to put the ordinance on the November ballot for a referendum vote and gathered more than 50,000 signatures - well more than the 17,269 required for the measure. After review, the city found that only 15,249 were valid, trashing the petition.

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New Montrose Church Juggles God, Gays, Stylish Glasses

Categories: Religion

Photo by Susan Du
Pastor Marshall Dallas of Sojourn aims to expand religious influence in Montrose despite the neighborhood's clear political leaning.

Marshall Dallas is not exactly selling monotheism to the Romans, but that doesn't mean church planting in Montrose has been smooth sailing.

Leading the flock at Sojourn on any given Sunday, the tatted pastor sports thick-rimmed vintage glasses and a plaid button-up rolled up at the elbows, his dark beard trimmed slightly shorter than Biblical proportions. Yet despite Sojourn's outwardly hipster makeup, Dallas isn't rocking the theological boat just because he rocks an Astros snapback. The church views homosexuality as a sin, currently has no gay members, and would ultimately excommunicate members who fail to renounce their homosexuality.

Locals question whether a Montrose church plant could ever succeed as a neighborhood fixture if it fails to accept a key demographic.

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What A Muslim Looks Like

Categories: Religion

Photo by Maha Ahmed
Several years ago, my mom told me about an incident in which one of my cousins and his friends were told, or more fittingly "yelled at," to "go back to their damn country." They were playing basketball in a local, empty outdoor court, when some white people drove by and started slinging slurs at them. Punches were thrown. Someone got hurt.

When she told me, I remember wondering to myself whether this was only a petty classroom feud that had seeped out of school walls and into the neighborhood, whether it was an isolated incident.

My cousin and his friends weren't even old enough to drive at the time, but they did look like the post-9/11, media-curated image of terrorists I'd grown up seeing all around me --their skin was brown, and one of them wore a turban. They looked like me.

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