City officials threatened a Virginia church with misdemeanor charges for having pro-life signs on their own property. Who needs ISIS when you’ve got government bureaucrats?
Some people think the 1st Amendment is about protecting popular and politically correct speech. But such things don’t need protection. The 1st Amendment has to do with protecting controversial speech.
The issue of abortion is obviously controversial, but because murdering unborn babies is socially and culturally acceptable, voicing an opinion in favor of it doesn’t really need protection. What needs protection is voicing an opinion in opposition to it.
Government bureaucrats sent a letter to Valley Church of Christ in Virginia, notifying them that someone had complained about a couple of pro-life signs posted outside the church. Officials told them that they had 10 days to remove the signs or face criminal charges. The attorney representing the church said that the charges could result in thousands of dollars in fines and up to a year in prison.
The Blaze described the “provocative” signs on the church’s property:
One of the banners includes a quote from Mother Teresa that reads, “It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish,” along with a photo of a fetus; the other includes a scripture from Jeremiah 1:5, which reads, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
When the church’s attorney John Whitehead from the Rutherford Institute made the argument that the 1st Amendment bars content-based discrimination by the government regarding signs, the city backed off.
But now, officials are claiming that they didn’t care so much about the content of the signs, but the actual materials and structure of the signs. They just wanted to make sure the signs’ materials were in compliance with their local ordinances. Uh-huh. Surrrre.