The U. S. Supreme Court will consider a California case this week with profound ramifications related to free speech – more specifically “compelled speech.” The case is about a California law requiring pregnancy care centers (which are established for the purpose of preventing abortions) to post information about state funded abortion services. Pregnancy care centers, understandably, do not want to post this information since it violates their values – and in many cases their theological convictions.
This is really not a debate about abortion, but about who the state can compel to communicate their message and what messages must be communicated. The state compels employers, for example, to communicate their message about workplace laws – we have those posters in our HR department at the seminary. The state compels organizations like ours to report some aspects of its business and financial operations – we comply through our public audit and other means. The state has the power to compel some information be communicated and most churches and religious organizations comply.
But can the state compel an organization – particularly a church or faith-based ministry – to communicate a message which contradicts its doctrine, values, or convictions? That’s the pressing question the Court must decide. The implications of this case (and others related to implications of free speech rights) may have broad ramifications. It is essential the Court uphold the right to speak – or not to speak – based on the dictates of conscious. To do otherwise is allowing a governmental impingement on religious freedom specifically prohibited by the Constitution.
Pray for the Court as they decide important issues about freedom of speech and religious freedom.