BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The pastor of the Church of the Highlands is now responding to decisions made by Birmingham’s housing authority and school system to cut ties with the church. It comes as some are wondering if those group’s decisions is an attack on free speech.
In a statement to WBRC, Hodges says: “Jesus Christ teaches us to love our neighbors. In these complex times, we want to do more than ever to listen, love and serve our city.”
Hodges thanks the housing authority for the opportunity to serve them and says the church will continue to support their work.
When it comes to the school system, Hodges again thanked the board for the opportunity and says going forward, the church will continue its financial support of the school system and encourage others to do the same.
This comes after a social media controversy involving Hodges following and liking posts made by conservative group Turning Point USA. Hodges has since apologized.
Some are questioning if the cuts are an attack on free speech. We asked the ACLU of Alabama if the church has any First Amendment ground to stand on. Board president Kira Fonteneau says possibly. It just depends on the language in the contract.
"As a general rule, the government is limited to time, place and manner restrictions on speech, abhorrent views may be something a government may dislike, but it isn’t generally something that the government can punish you for,” Fonteneau said.
Fonteneau says a morals clause could be in those contracts, which we’re trying to get our hands on.