Church Defends Right to Post Pro-Life Signs on Its Property

City officials in a town in Virginia recently challenged free speech rights when they filed criminal charges against a church that posted pro-life signs on its own property. Valley Church of Christ recently posted 2 signs along their property line to recognize the sanctity of human life. One sign shows an unborn baby cradled in a pair of hands with a famous quote from Mother Teresa: “It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.” The other sign quotes Jeremiah 1:5, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.”

The church received a letter from the zoning inspector indicating that it was in violation of a city ordinance which prohibits banners, pennants and flags. The letter ordered that the church comply within 10 days or risk being charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor, which carries a penalty of up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. But after attorneys from The Rutherford Institute intervened on behalf of the church, the city backed down. “Under the First Amendment, the government has no authority to pick and choose what type of speech it approves,” said John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute. “While we are pleased that Harrisonburg city officials were quick to set things right in this matter, this is merely one example out of a hundreds of incidents taking place across the country in which speech and expressive activities that the government perceives as controversial, politically incorrect or unpopular are criminalized, caged, censored or silenced.”