The United States Supreme Court has accepted a case titled National Institute of Family and Life Advocates verses Becerra. The issue here is an unfair abortion law. California passed a law that makes it mandatory for pro-life pregnancy centers to promote abortion as a part of their services to clients. These centers will have to pay a $1500 fine to the state for every case where they don’t promote abortion as an option for pregnancy.
The obvious question that arises in this situation is whether abortion providers would have to provide information to clients that promote pro-life options. The answer to that is obviously “No.” Pro-abortion spokespersons claim that not providing pro-life options is part of their right to free speech. Should that not also be true of pro-life groups not having to provide information about abortion services?
The implications of this whole situation are huge. If a preacher gives a sermon condemning abortion, is he required to also give a sermon promoting abortion? Since the Church is tax-exempt that answer to that question would seem to be “Yes.” There have already been cases where the government has threatened churches that won’t allow a woman to preach or won’t allow a homosexual to be a minister with losing their tax exemption.
No matter what your view might be on these issues, it should be obvious that the most fundamental question that underlies all of this is whether we want to government to dictate our morals and control our speech. An unfair abortion law is telling pro-life clinics that their speech must promote abortion. It will be interesting to see how the Supreme Court handles this issues.
–John N. Clayton © 2017
During the U.S. football season in the fall of 2017, we have had a national kneeling controversy. It centers over whether the players have a right to kneel in protest during the national anthem. There have been enough varied opinions on this issue to fill a massive number of talk shows and ESPN commentary sessions. Many argue that “freedom of speech” is the issue, even though not a word is spoken.
This debate has ignored the right of coaches to kneel–including high school football coaches. Two years ago a Bremerton, Washington, high school coach named Joe Kennedy was fired for kneeling in prayer on the field after football games. There is no indication that players participated or were asked to participate. Kennedy appealed, and the Ninth U.S. Court of Appeals ruled against him, The court said he: “Took advantage of his position to press his particular views upon impressionable and captive minds before him.” Kennedy served 20 years in the marines, and he says, “I just want the same rights as everyone else. What applies for one should apply to every American.”
As the kneeling controversy continues, I know many middle school and high school coaches in my area who have a moment of silent prayer or meditation before a game starts. If someone objected, that would probably be forbidden also.
In a C-SPAN interview, Senator James Lankford (R-Oklahoma) said that we must “be able to determine where we are as Americans. If we are going to honor all free speech and all free exercise of religion, we need to be able to honor that universally.” We agree wholeheartedly.
–John N. Clayton © 2017
During the past ten years, American universities have seen an incredible change in what is allowed on campus. Student groups and many faculty members are advocating that their campuses be what they call “safe spaces.” They define a safe space as an area “free of any speech that might be considered racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, or offensive in any way.” Free speech is under attack since those calling for safe spaces get to define what speech falls under the category of offensive.
This is the very worst kind of censorship, and it makes any attempt at education or reconciliation impossible. It is interesting that a center of this kind of mentality is the University of California, Berkeley. Many of us remember the protests in the 1960s. At that time students complained that the university wouldn’t allow debate and discussion of controversial issues. Now at the same university students are demanding that no one should be allowed to speak who might say something the students (or faculty) disagree with. People learn best when someone challenges their beliefs because then they have to learn to defend what they believe.
Opponents have always attacked Christianity and refused to allow Christians to present the principles of Christ for debate. When you read about people responding to the message of Paul and Stephen you see people screaming to obliterate their message and fomenting violence to them physically. (See Acts 19:23-30 and 21:28-31) That violence even went to the point of making a pact not to eat until they killed Paul (Acts 23:21).
We have had threats of violence from people who object to the message of our websites. It is virtually impossible to make a thirty-minute speech or write an article that won’t offend someone today. We intend to present evidence and argue for the validity of Christianity no matter what the threats are. As Christians, we would ask if mandating silence is the way to foster understanding and tolerance. “You can kill me, but you can’t kill my message.”
Reference: “The Free Speech Wars,” The Week magazine, June 2, 2017, page 13.
–John N. Clayton © 2017