HB 3956

85(R) - 2017
House State Affairs
House State Affairs
Civil Remedies
Local Government
State Agencies

Companion Bill

SB 24

Vote Recommendation

  • Neutral
  • Neutral
  • Neutral
  • Positive
  • Positive


Charlie Geren

Bill Caption

Relating to a privilege from disclosure to governmental units for certain evidence concerning sermons delivered by a religious leader.  

Fiscal Notes

From the LBB: no significant fiscal implication to the state is anticipated.

Bill Analysis

Current Texas law does not clearly prohibit government entities from compelling, or attempting to compel, the production of a recording or transcript of a religious sermon in a civil or administrative proceeding. HB 3956 would prohibit any compulsory surrender of a sermon delivered by a religious leader. Transcripts or recordings could be provided voluntarily. Also, this legislation would not apply to criminal proceedings.

Vote Recommendation Notes

The clear and unambiguous constitutionally-protected rights to free speech and freedom of religion should be enough to prevent any officer of government from attempting to compel a religious leader to produce a sermon transcript or recording on demand. Unfortunately, some government officials in Texas have behaved in a way that necessitates a new state law to explicitly prohibit the practice of using the subpoena power to compel the production of a recording or transcript of a sermon in a civil or administrative proceeding. 

This bill supports the individual liberty of Texans by prohibiting compulsory provision of sermons in civil and administrative proceedings. Also, because this bill would not apply in criminal cases, we do not anticipate any substantive interference with the rule of law. For these reasons, we support HB 3956.

Organizations Supporting

Republican Party of Texas
Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops
Texas Conservative Coalition
Texas Impact