By / Nov 23

Yet again, there are troubling developments on the island city of Hong Kong. This land that once was home to the ideals of freedom, democracy, and open trade between the countries of the east and the west is slipping further under totalitarian control of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

What happened?

On Wednesday, November 11, Beijing passed a resolution that sought to empower Hong Kong’s authorities to disquality legislators on what they deemed “a threat to national security” without having to go through a judicial process. Local authorities acted quickly with these powers and forced out four lawmakers, Dennis Kwok, Kwok Ka-ki, Kenneth Leung and Alvin Yeung, for their pro-democracy stances in the Hong Kong Legislative Council. The authority of executive branch leaders to target lawmakers at will is the latest in a long series of blows against the city’s long held democratic heritage.

In response to Beijing’s rapidly expanding control of the island, fifteen pro-democracy legislators announced their intention to resign in solidarity.

The CCP is making clear that it won’t tolerate support for democracy among legislators, and anyone bold enough to oppose the CCP will pay a price.

Pro-democracy legislator Fernando Cheung stated, “Today is definitely the darkest day in Hong Kong so far.” Lawmaker Kwok Ka-ki maintained a hopeful perspective, “As long as our resolve to fight for freedom, equality and justice remains unchanged, one day we will see the return of the core values we cherish.” But for now, these values remain under existential assault from the CCP.

Why does this matter?

On June 9, 2019, an estimated one million Hong Kongers began what would become protracted protests. At issue was an extradition bill supported by Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, and pushed by the communist party leaders in Beijing, that would have allowed for extraditions to mainland China.

Over the following months, the protestors rallied around five political demands: the withdrawal the extradition bill, an investigation into alleged police brutality against demonstrators, the release arrested protestors, retract the characterization of the protests as “riots,” and the resignation of Lam. Although Lam eventually withdrew the legislation, the Hong Kong government did not budge on the other items, and the protests continued.

In response, Beijing imposed a national security law in 2020 that expanded its control over Hong Kong, including broad powers to punish critics and silence dissenters. The law bans “sedition, secession, and treason” yet does not define those terms. This new draconian statute, left open to the interpretation of whatever Beijing wills, puts the individual liberties of Hongkongers at risk by criminalizing dissent and positioning the CCP to appoint judges to rule on national security cases.

For decades since 1997, Hong Kong and mainland China have operated under a “one country, two systems,” principle. Under this system, Hong Kong operated with a “high degree of autonomy” and without political interference from Beijing. This meant Hongkongers enjoyed significant individual freedoms relative to their mainland neighbors. Western democracies, including the United States, treated Hong Kong with a special status that allowed Hong Kong to thrive economically as it became a commercial and financial regional hub.

In July, President Trump responded to China’s crackdown on Hong Kong by revoking the special status of Hong Kong and signed the bipartisan Hong Kong Autonomy Act, imposing sanctions on foreign individuals and entities for “contributing to the erosion of Hong Kong’s autonomy.”

Hongkongers know how the communist government in Beijing treats its citizens, severely restricting their freedoms of religion, assembly, and speech. The world is watching as the Chinese Communist Party remakes Hong Kong in its own image. Freedom-loving men and women on the island-city and around the world are concerned. 

For further reading

What Hong Kong reveals about the future of China

What you need to know about the U.S. announcement that Hong Kong is no longer autonomous from China

Is Beijing dropping the hammer on Hong Kong?

By / Nov 19

November 2020 marks the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the “Pilgrims” in Plymouth Colony in New England. In other times and other years, the anniversary might have attracted more notice, but in the year of COVID, and amidst a controversial American election, the Pilgrims’ anniversary will undoubtedly be muted. 

The quiet tones about Plymouth also derive from Americans’ general uncertainty today about how to observe and honor such occasions, when much of the American (and Christian) past is viewed as ethically complex at best, and an unrelenting tale of racist and imperial oppression at worst. Such criticisms of American history, and Plymouth specifically, are not brand new. As Malcolm X once said, “we didn’t land on Plymouth Rock, the rock was landed on us.” 

1619 got far more notice last year than 1620 will get this year, with 1619 being the year of the first documented shipment of slaves to Virginia, and subject of the much-debated New York Times “1619 Project.” The veritable standoff between 1619 and 1620 has rendered sober observers uncertain about what to celebrate in the American past, and how.

Into this uncertainty comes John Turner’s outstanding and carefully-researched book, They Knew They Were Pilgrims: Plymouth Colony and the Contest for American Liberty. Turner tellingly asks at the outset “do the Pilgrims and their colony matter?” The answer actually remains clearer on a popular level than on an academic one. With all the recent furor over the American past, there is still no hope of displacing Thanksgiving on the American calendar. (COVID may push it to the back porches of America’s homes, however.) Americans are probably as unified about observing Thanksgiving as any other holiday. American Thanksgiving hazily conjures images of Pilgrims and Indians being nice to each other, or something to that effect. As usual, many of the impressions we have of the first Thanksgiving are a bit off: it is more likely that they ate eel instead of turkey, for instance. 

The importance of Plymouth for the story of liberty

Plymouth wasn’t the first permanent European settlement in North America (that was St. Augustine, Florida), or the first English settlement (Roanoke Island), or even the first permanent English colony (Jamestown in Virginia). But no matter: Plymouth is inextricably bound up with Thanksgiving, and so we remember it. Scholars, however, have spent little time on Plymouth since historian John Demos’s landmark study A Little Commonwealth: Family Life in Plymouth Colony a half-century ago. Part of the reason for Plymouth’s neglect is that the more numerical and better documented Puritans of Massachusetts have occupied the main stage of colonial American studies. Plymouth, which Massachusetts ultimately absorbed, gets treated by historians as a sideshow.

Turner uses the anniversary to reexamine Plymouth as a “fresh lens for examining the contested meaning of liberty in early New England.” If previous historians might have seized upon the Mayflower Compact and its covenanted “civil Body Politick” to show Plymouth’s contribution to the American democratic tradition, Turner uses Plymouth as a vantage point to demonstrate the vibrant but bitterly clashing traditions of liberty that have marked America from the beginning. 

They Knew They Were Pilgrims seeks to understand closely the cultural and religious influences that shaped the Pilgrims and the Wampanoags of southeastern Massachusetts. The Wampanoags’ world was already in turmoil before 1620, but the Pilgrims’ arrival challenged the Native Americans’ aspirations to mastery over the region like nothing before. We learn too about the Plymouth Separatists’ background in England and in the Netherlands, where many of them sojourned for a time before sailing to America.

Clashing visions of liberty

The Pilgrims did not call themselves “the Pilgrims,” but they were radical English Protestants who rejected the established Church of England for having retained too many “popish” practices in the decades following the English Reformation in the 1530s. For Separatists (and for most other leaders of the Reformation), true liberty was freedom to live according to the precepts of God’s Word. That freedom was routinely denied to Separatists in England, and in the Netherlands they found themselves surrounded by Dutch Christians who agreed with Christian liberty in principle, but whose readings of God’s Word differed from the Separatists’ in important ways. Thus, as for many devout Christian groups in the 1600s, a New World colony became a refuge where the Separatists could exercise Christian liberty. 

Yet the Plymouth colonists denied physical liberty to many Native Americans, who lost land to the English colonists, and many Indians also became enslaved to the English. Plymouth trafficked in smaller but significant numbers of African slaves, too. Whatever friendly feelings there had once been between the English and Indians was finally wrecked by the horrors of King Philip’s War in the mid-1670s, which by percentage of population killed was probably the deadliest war in American history. Massachusetts and Plymouth forces killed untold numbers of Indians, and they enslaved and deported hundreds more to the Caribbean and to destinations as far off as Spain.

Even in the Separatists’ churches, there was disagreement about what liberty and the Word of God required. They were among the small minority of English people who abandoned the Church of England, but still they could not agree amongst themselves on correct biblical practices for churches. Founders of the English Baptist movement had deep connections to the Separatists, but most Separatists continued to affirm infant baptism. Their break from the Anglican Church spawned incessant debates among the Separatists about ecclesiology and doctrine, however, such as the one that broke out when Plymouth called future Harvard College president Charles Chauncy as pastor in the 1630s. (Chauncy is not to be confused with his great-grandson of the same name, the Boston pastor who was the most vocal opponent of the revivals of the Great Awakening.) 

Chauncy affirmed paedobaptism, but he thought that infants should be immersed, rather than sprinkled. Some in the Plymouth congregation suggested that Chauncy could offer paedobaptism by immersion in addition to sprinkling, but Chauncy insisted that immersion was the only biblical mode. (Baptists would say he had gone halfway toward the correct view, which is believer’s baptism by immersion.) Some feared that baptizing infants in the frigid waters of a New England pond would threaten children’s well-being. Indeed, one of Chauncy’s own children reportedly died due to exposure to extreme cold in baptism. 

Chauncy’s recalcitrance led Plymouth to rescind their offer of employment. He moved on to Scituate, up the coast from Plymouth. More feuding there led to one of the first church splits in colonial American history, giving tiny Scituate a second separate congregation. Liberty was and is a preeminent Protestant concern. But, Turner seems to wonder, who adjudicates when Protestants do not agree about God’s will? How will we know in this life when we have manifested the true “liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free” (Gal. 5:1)? Seen in this context, the Plymouth colonists look even more like time-bound pilgrims trudging toward John Bunyan’s Celestial City. 

By / Sep 22

Jeff Pickering and Travis Wussow welcome Andrew Bunnell of Biblical Ministries Worldwide to the roundtable for a wide ranging conversation on religious freedom. The discussion covers various misconceptions about this freedom and how we can chart a path forward that advances the Kingdom of God and the common good of our neighbors in our country. Andrew speaks with a wealth of experience on the mission field as a church planter and knowledge of the history of how government policy treats this foundational human right.

Guest Biography

Andrew Bunnell has invested his life evangelizing the lost and planting and revitalizing churches in more than forty countries across Eurasia, Africa, and North America. After twenty years with Baptist International Missions, he now serves as General Director Designate at Biblical Ministries Worldwide. Andrew is also pursuing a PhD at the University of Washington at Seattle focused on the global role of religion in shaping culture and politics. In 2000, he married his childhood sweetheart, Sarah. They have three children: Joseph, Jackson and Elizabeth.

Resources from the Conversation

By / Aug 28

In this episode, Josh, Lindsay, and Brent discuss Hurricane Laura, Jacob Blake, the Republican National Convention, Liberty University, and COVID-19. Lindsay also gives a rundown of this week’s ERLC content including a piece by Jason Thacker with “How pornography is preying on the vulnerable in the midst of COVID-19,” Alex Ward with “Explainer: Report of the Human Fetal Tissue Research Ethics Advisory Board,” and Josh Wester with “4 Lessons from Carl F.H. Henry’s The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism.” Also in this episode, the hosts are joined by Meredith Leatherwood for a conversation about life and ministry.

About Meredith

Meredith Leatherwood is the Founder of Leatherwood Promotions, a business that promotes Christian records and singles in the music industry. She has been working in the music industry for nearly two decades as a record promoter. She holds a Masters in Theology from Liberty University. She and Brent have been married for eight years and they’re busy raising three children in Nashville, Tennessee. 

ERLC Content


  1. A massive hurricane, named Laura, made landfall early Thursday morning off the coasts of Louisiana and Texas
  2. 2 killed during Jacob Blake protests in Kenosha
  3. Justic Dept. to open investigation on Kenosha shooting
  4. 17-year-old charged with homicide after shooting during Kenosha protests, authorities say
  5. Republican National Convention took place
  6. Falwell resigns as president of Liberty
  7. Coronavirus cases fell by 15% this week


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By / Jan 22

On Dec. 30, 2019, The Guardian reported that Wang Yi, leader of Early Rain Covenant in China, was sentenced to prison for nine years for inciting subversion through his unsanctioned church. The New York Times reported on Yi’s imprisonment, “As part of his sentence, he will also be stripped of his political rights for three years and have 50,000 renminbi, or almost $7,200, of his assets seized, according to the statement.”

Yi’s imprisonment is the most recent story of religious persecution in China, which is a growing global concern and extends beyond Christian groups in China to include Uyghur Muslims, Tibetan Buddhists, and Falun Gong practitioners as well. 

There are approximately 116 million Christians in mainland China, and their presence makes the Chinese Communist Party feel threatened. China’s authoritarian leader, President Xi Jinping, tries to silence the voices of any who have worldviews that are antithetical to his leadership and governance. Thomas Kidd suggested that it was likely not only the presence of the unregistered house churches that landed Yi in jail but his evangelistic work without government approval and “his criticism of China’s increasingly authoritarian ruler.” 

There is no subtle irony in the accusation that the Chinese government brought against Yi and his church. In some important ways, Yi and his congregation were and will continue to “incite subversion” in Communist China by their very existence. This is what the gospel of the risen Christ does in the midst of totalitarian government. The idea that an embassy of Christ’s Kingdom would have to “register and submit to government oversight” is diametrically opposed to the Lordship of Christ over his churches. 

Even though Yi and the members of Early Rain Covenant are being persecuted by the Chinese government, the gospel is not chained.

The only registry that the church of Christ requires is to be “safely hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3-4). Yi and the many other Christians in China recognized this reality and rightly defied a government that had confused its role in the world. The government in China is supposed to “punish evil and praise good” as part of their God-ordained purpose in the world (Rom. 13:1-7).

In a Facebook post, containing a personal message from Pastor Yi, he shares passionately about how he views his imprisonment and what his prayer is while he’s there.

Those who lock me up will one day be locked up by angels. Those who interrogate me will finally be questioned and judged by Christ. When I think of this, the Lord fills me with a natural compassion and grief toward those who are attempting to and actively imprisoning me. Pray that the Lord would use me, that he would grant me patience and wisdom, that I might take the gospel to them.

Separate me from my wife and children, ruin my reputation, destroy my life and my family – the authorities are capable of doing all of these things. However, no one in this world can force me to renounce my faith; no one can make me change my life; and no one can raise me from the dead.

Jesus is the Christ, son of the eternal, living God. He died for sinners and rose to life for us. He is my king and the king of the whole earth yesterday, today, and forever. I am his servant, and I am imprisoned because of this. I will resist in meekness those who resist God, and I will joyfully violate all laws that violate God’s laws. 

Even though Yi and the members of Early Rain Covenant are being persecuted by the Chinese government, the gospel is not chained. As the Apostle Paul encourages Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:8-10, “Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.” 

And while Xi Jinping is setting himself up to be the supreme leader, he is no match for the living, reigning, and soon-returning Lord who is jealous for his bride in China. When Christ determines to build his Church, he does not ask for permission or building permits. Thus, while hell may threaten to build gates around the message of the gospel in China, they will not prevail against the Church (Matt. 16:18-20). 

Secretary of State Pompeo has expressed alarm and urged for Pastor Yi’s release: “I am alarmed that Pastor Wang Yi, leader of Chengdu’s Early Rain house church, was tried in secret and sentenced to nine years in prison on trumped-up charges. Beijing must release him and end its intensifying repression of Christians and members of all other religious groups.”

We, too, should advocate for Pastor Yi’s release and urge China to cease it’s persecution of religions. We should also pray for the release from prison for those who are persecuted, perseverance during the trial, and the advancement of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

By / Jun 29

They once rattled in pockets and paid off purchases. Now they’re routinely tossed to the ground and trampled underfoot. Some voices have even proposed doing away with them altogether. At a cost of 1.4 cents to mint per cent, the copper-plated zinc coin bearing Lincoln’s image is, the thinking goes, too costly and too inconvenient.

Put simply, the penny has fallen on hard times.

The old maxim, “A penny saved is a penny earned,” adapted from the treasuries of Benjamin Franklin’s wit and wisdom, fell out of mass circulation long ago. Now, it seems, the 2.5-gram one-cent piece is more nuisance than worth.

At least that’s what many think.

Picking up pennies

I’ve written before about our culture’s collective affinity toward our smartphones. We might do well, I suggested, to take our eyes off our hand-held screens from time to time and gaze elsewhere, lest the world around us and the God above us pass us by without our recognition. One might call our surf-and-scroll addiction the looking down problem. Count me guilty.

But count me guilty too of looking down, past the glossy glass in hand to the gritty ground below, while pounding the pavement from one destination to the next. The shine (or dullness) of my shoes is not my interest. Instead, I’m looking for the discarded, overlooked, trampled down penny.

Seldom does a day pass when commuting via Washington’s Metro rail transit system, or walking the corridors of the capital’s Union Station, that I don’t spot a penny on the pavement. Since the first of the year, I’ve stumbled upon and picked up more than 200 pennies (yes, I keep count). At this penny-a-day pace, I’ll be worth a Starbucks venti gingerbread latté by Christmas. Well, maybe.

But my years-long habit of rescuing homeless pennies is not some innovative means to add to my Christmas cheer. Nor, like the misguided pursuit of others, is it a hobby in hopes of finding “fortune” or “good luck.” It is instead, for me, a spiritual exercise.

Let me explain.

Minted by the Master

When I spot a penny on the ground, I’m reminded that the supreme God of the universe cares for every human life, small and insignificant as society may deem any one person. Jesus himself pointed to the penny, one of the smallest denominations in first century Palestine, to convey this rich spiritual truth.

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?” he asked. “And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Matt. 10:29–31).

Consider, too, the psalmist’s declaration: “The LORD is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens! Who is like the LORD our God, who is seated on high, who looks far down on the heavens and the earth? He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap….” (Ps. 113:4–7).

As I reach down to pick up pennies from the beaten path, my mind reflects upon this remarkable truth. I’m reminded that every life is sacred and created in the Imago Dei—the image of God (Gen. 1:27). I remember that the God who owns the cattle on a thousand hills is the same God who picks up the common—the marred, the tarnished, the sin-stained. The God Who Sees does not pass over anyone. None of the world’s 7.4 billion people escape his eye. None go unnoticed. All, in his eyes, bear inestimable worth.

He bends down from the throne of heaven to behold the unlikely and the unlovely. He reaches down to the least and the lost, the lowly and the lonely. He lifts the lame and lightens the load of the heavy laden.

In other words, he reaches down to you and to me. He sets us at liberty. And he does so through the condescension of his Son.

I pause and thank God for such grace.

His was a cost not measured by shekels or weighed in gold. The child of God, I recall, has been ransomed “not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot” (1 Pet. 1:18–19).

He fashions his redeemed sons and daughters into something quite uncommon. He remakes the middle, the core—the heart—to a pure composition found in the righteousness of his beloved Son, who “humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phi. 2:7). And in God’s eyes, that prized, purchased possession—minted by the Master—is shiny and new, even as marks on the face shall remain.

It’s a math that doesn’t add up. It’s an incomprehensible calculus, an unfathomable formula. It sounds too simple and defies all logic.

I praise God, penny in hand, for such a math that makes no sense.

And I remind myself that we, the picked up and purchased, are to seek to do something of the same.

Replicating the Master

Abraham Lincoln’s imprint on the face of the penny, beginning in 1909, is, I think, fitting. The 16th president recalled, at Gettysburg, that ours is a nation “conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” He affirmed the dignity of every man, woman and child. At a time when millions living on U.S. soil were regarded as less than humans, the great emancipator stood in their defense. He reminded them, and the nation, that they bore the stamp of God just as much as anyone else.

In short, he reached down and picked them up.

When we peer down at the thrown out penny, we too can think about the disenfranchised and discarded among us. We can remember the unborn and the aged, the infirmed and the impoverished, the immigrant and the imprisoned—all those routinely denied, by many, the recognition of their God-given intrinsic worth.

Then we can seek to pick them up. We can, in that moment, lift them in prayer to the Father and ask what part we might play in heeding their plight, in helping them find liberty. The “poor in the dust” and the “needy in the ash heap” need no stroke of good luck. All of us, as image-bearers of God, share a need one and the same: a lift, out of our helpless state, from above—from a friend, from a neighbor, from, ultimately, a Father.

We can fixate on the penny’s year of mint, offset in relief to the right of Lincoln’s profile, and lift a word of praise for something good that comes to mind from that particular year. Or, as the case may be, we can offer a petition that God would bring about some good, for his glory, out of some evil that overtook a person or a nation that year. The Father to the fatherless is, after all, the One who brings light out of darkness (2 Cor. 4:6) and sets the captives free (Gal. 5:1).

Riches beyond measure

Admittedly, I hope we don’t do away with the penny. As long as one-cent pieces are around, I’ll keep my eye out for them, covered in dirt and trampled underfoot, and pick them up as a reminder that the Maker of heaven and earth cares for and stoops down to the least of us. And, if need be, I’ll find a bigger bowl to house my growing collection of adopted coins. An ever present reminder.

Indeed, a penny saved may well be a penny earned. But a penny found is, by my accounting, much more: an opportune occasion to consider the lives among us and the Lord who loves us. What better moment to recount the God to be praised, the Savior he raised and our lives that he saved!

To be sure, the once-lost but now-found coin is not a stroke of good luck, but a good gift from a faithful Father. And therein yields a treasure that cannot be weighed in copper and zinc, or silver and gold.

If only we will take the time to stoop down.

That’s just my two cents, anyway.

By / Mar 23

Tired of politics as usual? Join Russell Moore, Samuel Rodriquez, and other evangelical leaders for an important discussion on the gospel and politics at the 2015 ERLC National Conference. Held in downtown Nashville at the Music City Center on Wednesday, August 5, 2015 immediately following the NAMB SEND North America Conference. The ERLC National Conference will help equip you toward gospel-centered engagement, especially during a rough-and-tumble political engagement.

By / Jan 24

The vile morality of the abortion lobby goes something like this: The “right” of a woman to hire another person to kill her child should not only be as unfettered as possible, it should ideally be subsidized by others. Abortion clinics should be free of even the most basic medical restrictions designed to protect clients from (further) harm. They should be free from any requirement to deliver truthful medical information about the child growing inside the mother. They should be able to perform the procedure at any time up to (and, according to some, just after) birth. And abortion providers themselves are not only entitled to considerable federal and state funding, it’s worth shutting down the government to preserve that funding — all in the name of protecting the “fundamental right” to abort a child.

This love for fundamental rights disappears, however, when it comes to an actual, explicit fundamental constitutional right: free speech. The Supreme Court recently heard arguments in McCullen v. Coakley, a case challenging Massachusetts’s decision to block pro-life free speech that occurs in close proximity to abortion clinics. But such “buffer zones” are not the only challenges to pro-life free speech.

Standing on the front lines against the taxpayer-funded abortion industry are a collection of privately-funded crisis-pregnancy centers. These centers do invaluable work on the ground, often providing women with free ultrasounds, educating them about abortion alternatives, and teaching them about the value of the life. Consequently, the abortion lobby loathes these centers and is constantly seeking ways to limit their freedom of action.

In March 2011, New York City passed Local Law 17, which required “pregnancy services centers” (as vaguely defined) to make three disclosures:

(1) whether or not they “have a licensed medical provider on staff who provides or directly supervises the provision of all of the services at such pregnancy service center” (the “Status Disclosure”);

(2) “that the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene encourages women who are or who may be pregnant to consult with a licensed provider” (the “Government Message”); and

(3) whether or not they “provide or provide referrals for abortion,” “emergency contraception,” or “prenatal care” (the “Services Disclosure”).

Taken together, these disclosures not only commandeer the free-speech rights of the centers by compelling government speech, they act as an effective warning against entry for abortion-minded women — often foreclosing even the opportunity to persuade. At the ACLJ, we challenged these restrictions on First Amendment grounds, winning an injunction at the district court. The court found the definition of “pregnancy services centers” unconstitutionally vague and therefore enjoined the law’s enforcement. The city appealed to the Second Circuit.

On January 17, the Second Circuit issued its decision, reversing in part and affirming in part. It disagreed with the district court that the definition of “pregnancy services centers” was vague and also refused to enjoin the Status Disclosure. However, it enjoined both the government message and the services disclosure, holding that these mandated disclosures violated the pregnancy centers’ First Amendment rights. Regarding the government message, the court held:

We are also concerned that this disclosure requires pregnancy services centers to advertise on behalf of the City. It may be the case that most, if not all, pregnancy services centers would agree that pregnant women should see a doctor. That decision, however, as this litigation demonstrates, is a public issue subject to dispute. The Government Message, “mandating that Plaintiffs affirmatively espouse the government’s position on a contested public issue,” deprives Plaintiffs of their right to communicate freely on matters of public concern.

Regarding the services disclosure the court noted:

A requirement that pregnancy services centers address abortion, emergency contraception, or prenatal care at the beginning of their contact with potential clients alters the centers’ political speech by mandating the manner in which the discussion of these issues begins.

Judge Wesley, in a strongly-worded dissent, correctly identified the law’s fatal flaw:

Local Law 17 is a bureaucrat’s dream. It contains a deliberately ambiguous set of standards guiding its application, thereby providing a blank check to New York City officials to harass or threaten legitimate activity.

This is exactly right. While we’re pleased the Second Circuit enjoined two of the three mandated disclosures, the third disclosure also violates our clients’ constitutional rights, and the vague definitions inherent in the statute invite abuse. Stay tuned as we consider an appeal.

If the abortion lobby is confident in its worldview and confident that it truly cares for women, why does it fear debate? Why must it commandeer the power of the state to stifle free speech? After all, isn’t one of the justifications for the abortion-on-demand regime that it honors individual autonomy? What about the autonomy of dissenters?

But abortion isn’t about liberty, and it’s never been about liberty. It’s instead an ideology of individual supremacy maintained by an embrace of death on an industrial scale. 

No wonder it seeks to stifle debate.

Read the original post here