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News Link • Bill of Rights

Mayor threatens pastors with felony charges over recall


By Drew Zahn
© 2011 WND

El Paso Mayor John Cook

A group of churches and pastors in El Paso, Texas, are in a legal battle with the city's mayor, who has cited a state election law he says would make their distribution of recall petitions against him a third degree felony.

Now Jesus Chapel and its pastor, H. Warren Hoyt, with the help of attorneys from the Alliance Defense Fund, are asking a federal court to strike down the election law Mayor John Cook is citing as unconstitutional censorship of free speech.

"Pastors and churches shouldn't live in fear of being punished by the government for exercising their constitutionally protected right to free speech," said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Joel Oster in a statement. "No law or government official can rob a faith group of its constitutionally protected rights just because that official would prefer not to be removed from office."

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The legal filing is actually a step up in an ongoing battle over how churches can or can't legally be involved in politics, a struggle that has involved not only the ADF, but also Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, and that could make its way to the Supreme Court.

(Story continues below)

Read more: Mayor threatens pastors with felony charges over recall

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