VICTORY: Harrisonburg Officials Rescind Threat of Criminal Charges Against Local Church Over Its Display of Pro-Life Messages on Private Property
HARRISONBURG, Va. – The City of Harrisonburg, Virginia, has rescinded a threat made by zoning officials to levy criminal charges at a local church over its display of pro-life messages on private property. The city’s reversal came after attorneys for The Rutherford Institute intervened on behalf of Valley Church of Christ, which had been ordered to take down signs on its property that quote Mother Teresa and the Bible on the sanctity of human life. In coming to the defense of the Harrisonburg church, Rutherford Institute 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.
“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 and author of Battlefield America: The War on the American People. “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.”