No criminal charges for church which displayed pro-life signs on private property

Officials have rescinded their threat to levy criminal charges against a local church over its display of pro-life messages on private property.

On April 20, 2015, The Virginia church located in the City of Harrisburg was ordered by the to take down the two pro-life signs which were displayed on their property.

Valley Church prolife signs

Life Dynamics first saw the report in a story published by Life News which read:

Life Dynamics contacted the church for pictures of the pro-life signs as they were displayed and this is what they sent us:

Church ordered to remove sign

Church ordered to remove prolife sign

The Rutherford Institute, a legal firm which supports life, sent a letter to the city on behalf of the church.

Now, the City of Harrisonburg, Virginia, has rescinded their threat after Rutherford attorneys pointed out that the City’s actions constituted discrimination based on the content of the church’s signs, which is a clear violation of the First Amendment.

Get a free prolife pin

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.

In its letter to the City on behalf of the church, The Rutherford Institute pointed out that the City Code section relied upon in its letter to the church makes content-based distinctions on those banners and flags that are allowable and those that are not.

This kind of preference for banners that express certain messages and discrimination against banners that express other messages is precisely the kind of content-based regulation of speech the First Amendment prohibits,” the Institute’s letter contended.

The letter also cited court decisions which have found similar laws regulating the display of flags and banners unconstitutional.

“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,” Whitehead stated.

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