Dr. Eric Walsh, a Seventh-day Adventist pastor from Georgia, is refusing to hand over copies of his sermons despite orders from the state's attorney general.
Walsh was previously hired as the District Health Director of the Georgia Department of Public Health in 2014. After a week, he was asked to provide copies of his sermons for review.
His attorneys said that the government wanted to know the contents of the sermons Walsh delivered about health, marriage, homosexuality, world religions and creationism. He was fired two days later after he complied with the request.
The pastor filed a lawsuit against the state officials for religious discrimination.
"He was fired for something he said in a sermon," said First Liberty counsel Jeremy Dys, the attorney representing Walsh. "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," Dy added.
According to World, the subpoena ordering Walsh to submit his sermons was issued by Attorney General Samuel Olens on Sept. 27.
Walsh said he will not comply with the order. "I really don't want that precedent set in this country. I do this for the purpose of, hopefully, protecting someone who comes after me," he said at a press conference on Wednesday.
Dys said that the state officials have acted illegally when it requested copies of the sermons when they hired Walsh. He added that it is also illegal for them to subpoena the sermons after they were sued by the pastor.
"The government is demanding that a pastor hand over copies of all of his sermons, notes, and transcripts, without limitation," Dys said in a statement. "This is an excessive display of the government overreaching its authority and violating the sanctity of the church," he continued.
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, expressed his support for Walsh. He said that the government's efforts to scrutinize speech made at the pulpit is unconstitutional.