After over 40,000 people signed a petition expressing outrage at the State of Georgia for demanding Seventh-day Adventist lay pastor Dr. Eric Walsh’s sermon notes, transcripts, and Bible, the state has withdrawn the subpoena, reports The Christian Post.
The state is still requesting that he turn over any ministerial credentials, proof that he worked with the Seventh-day Adventist denomination, or any contracts he had with the Church and details on his compensation for his sermons.
Walsh first came into the national spotlight when he was disinvited from speaking at a Pasadena City College commencement due to the conservative religious beliefs he had expressed in sermons that had been posted online.
The state of Georgia had previously hired Walsh as the state public health director but withdrew the offer when officials learned that he had been dismissed from employment by the City of Pasadena. Walsh’s attorneys say that he was dismissed because of the content of his sermons while Georgia claims that they terminated the agreement because they learned that he had allegedly violated a Pasadena policy which prohibited undisclosed dual employment.
While his attorneys claim that the request for employment or contractual agreements is still too intrusive, the revised request will probably be upheld by the courts as it speaks to the issue of potential dual employment.
People of faith from many religions are carefully watching this case as it could have a potential chilling effect on freedom of speech as well as free exercise of religion if things said during religious services, or attendance at such services, can disqualify them from secular employment.