This thing does not happen every day: a government targeting an ordained pastor, ordering him to surrender hard copies of his sermons and his Bible as well.
The act could be not that unusual in a communist country. But it happened in America and was done by the state of Georgia through its governor himself.
In what is viewed as an "unjust assault on people of faith, including the pulpit itself," Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal demanded that Dr. Eric Walsh, a Seventh-day Adventist Church lay pastor, hand over all his pastoral documentation—including private sermon notes, along with the sermons themselves, and his Bible as well—to the state, Charisma News reported.
Walsh was one of America's leading health administrators until he was fired in 2014 by the Georgia Department of Public Health.
Walsh was fired after Georgia officials reportedly learned of his faith following an examination of his sermons on YouTube, where he tackled such Christian themes as creation, compassion, spiritual growth, the family and Christian living.
Walsh then filed a federal lawsuit against Georgia, alleging unlawful religious discrimination.
The state of Georgia has denied that it fired Walsh for religious reasons. However, in response to his lawsuit, the state is now demanding that he hand over religious documents.
The Family Research Council (FRC) has expressed outrage at the state's demand. It has launched a petition at frc.org/walsh that calls on Governor Deal to "correct this egregious over-reach of the state into church affairs."
"This demand for Dr. Eric Walsh's sermons, sermons notes and ministerial documentation is an alarming display of government intrusion into the sanctity of the church, pastor's study and pulpit," said Tony Perkins, FRC president who is also an ordained pastor. "This is something that I would have expected to see in a communist country, not America."
Perkins slammed "government scrutiny of speech in the pulpit," calling it "unconstitutional and unconscionable."
For his part, Travis Weber, director of FRC's Center for Religious Liberty, called on the State of Georgia to cease its hostility toward people of faith.
"We've recently seen the former mayor of Houston issue subpoenas against pastors in Houston, Texas, seeking their sermons," said Weber. "This action against Dr. Walsh is another unjust assault on people of faith, including the pulpit itself. This cannot go unchallenged."