An online petition started by the Family Research Council condemns Georgia officials for demanding that a Seventh-day Adventist lay minister hand over his sermons to the state government, calling it an attempt to silence people of faith.
"I stand with Dr. Eric Walsh's freedom to believe and live according to his deeply-held beliefs. The demand that he hand over his sermons, sermon notes, and all pastoral documents including his Bible represents a government intrusion into the sanctity of the church, pastor's study, and pulpit," reads the petition to Georgia Governor Nathan Deal.
"Heavy-handed tactics like this have the effect of intimidating and silencing people of faith everywhere. Such targeting of the pulpit by the government is unconscionable, and I urge you to use all means of your authority to correct this egregious overreach of the state into church affairs."
As The Christian Post reported, Walsh is a leading health expert who was previously appointed to President Obama's Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDs, but the state's Department of Public Health ended up rescinding his employment after it investigated his Christian views on marriage.
After Walsh filed an official charge of discrimination with the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission in September 2014, the state of Georgia filed a Request for Production of Documents, which asked for copies of his sermons and all material relating to his service as a pastor.
Walsh has strongly opposed the request, however.
"No government has the right to require a pastor to turn over his sermons," he said in a statement. "I cannot and will not give up my sermons unless I am forced to do so."