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State of Georgia Demands Pastor Hand Over His Sermon Notes and Transcripts

Government demands Dr. Eric Walsh hand over his “sermon notes and/or transcripts” in the course of litigation

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October 26, 2016

ATLANTA, GA – Today, Dr. Eric Walsh announces that he will not hand over his sermons to the State of Georgia. His announcement comes in response to the government serving him with legal papers during the course of litigation, requiring him to surrender copies of his sermon notes and transcripts. Walsh, who was a lay minister and Georgia government employee, became embroiled in a lawsuit with the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) after evidence surfaced indicating the government fired Walsh over his religious beliefs.

Read more about the case and view legal documents at FirstLiberty.org/Walsh

“The state insists that it did not fire Dr. Walsh over his religious beliefs or sermons. If that’s true, why is it demanding copies of his sermons now?” Jeremy Dys, Senior Counsel for First Liberty Institute and counsel for Dr. Walsh, asked. “It’s clear the government fired Dr. Walsh over his religious beliefs, which is blatant religious discrimination.”

In May 2014, Walsh accepted a position as a District Health Director with Georgia’s DPH. A week later, a DPH official asked him to submit copies of sermons he had previously preached as a lay minister with the Seventh-day Adventist Church. After DPH officials obtained copies of his sermons, they divided them up, reviewed them, and then terminated Dr. Walsh two days later. (View email correspondence between DPH officials and employees dividing up the sermons)

First Liberty Institute, along with Atlanta law firm Parks, Chesin & Walbert, filed a lawsuit against the Georgia Department of Public Health on behalf of Walsh, charging state officials with engaging in religious discrimination against Walsh.

On September 28, in the process of building their legal case against Walsh, the State of Georgia served a Request for Production of Documents on Walsh, which requires Walsh to surrender copies of his sermon notes and transcripts. The request carries the same force of law as a subpoena. Read the document

“The government is demanding that a pastor hand over copies of all of his sermons, including notes and transcripts, without limitation,” Jeremy Dys, Senior Counsel for First Liberty says. “This is an excessive display of the government overreaching its authority and violating the sanctity of the church.”

“No government has the right to require a pastor to turn over his sermons,” says Dr. Eric Walsh. “I cannot and will not give up my sermons unless I am forced to do so.”

Read more about the case and access photos and videos at FirstLiberty.org/Walsh

About First Liberty Institute

First Liberty Institute is the largest legal organization in the nation dedicated exclusively to defending religious freedom for all Americans.

To arrange an interview, contact Kassie Dulin, Director of Legal Communications for First Liberty Institute. Email: kdulin@firstliberty.org, Direct: 972-941-9575, Cell: 214-542-4334. 

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