Court to State: Churches Have Free Speech Too

free_speech

It’s still free speech…”Whether you like it or not”

Note to all those out there salivating, waiting for churches to lose their tax exempt status for their involvement in promoting traditional marriage in the last election.  Courts in Montana are reaffirming religion’s free speech rights.

Montana was one of the states which voted to reaffirm the definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman.  Marriage being a moral issue, churches across the nation are taking a stand for marriage, but some people think the church should be muzzled from public speaking on the issue.

Hear this from the judge ruling in this case:

“The media are free to promote political opinions without registering as independent political committees and without disclosing the identity of those owning the facilities used to promote the opinions. The most likely sources of potent political input into an election are removed from the statute’s scope. The generality of the statute is destroyed. The neutrality of the statute is preserved as to the media while all religious expressions on a ballot measure are swept within its requirements. The disparity between the treatment of the media and the treatment of churches is great and gross,” he said.”

Common sense from the Judiciary!

—Beetle Blogger

See more on this from WorldNetDaily:

Court: State trashed church’s 1st Amendment rights

Encouraging members to support traditional marriage is protected speech

An appeals court ruled the state of Montana violated a church’s First Amendment rights to encourage its members to support traditional marriage.

The ruling from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the state’s determination that the church was an “incidental political committee” because members promoted and signed petitions supporting traditional marriage, and the pastor also encouraged it.

The complaint against Ferry Road Baptist Church of East Helena was sparked by a complaint from a homosexual activist group, the court ruling noted. The Alliance Defense Fund took up the fight for the church by filing a lawsuit in 2004 after the state issued its ruling against the church.

“Churches shouldn’t be penalized for expressing their beliefs. They should never be forced to forfeit their free speech rights just because the government decides to enact unconstitutional laws requiring them to remain silent on social issues,” said ADF Legal Counsel Dale Schowengerdt, who litigated the case with co-counsel Tim Fox of the Helena law firm of Gough, Shanahan, Johnson & Waterman.

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2 Comments

  1. Euripides said,

    February 28, 2009 at 6:18 pm

    Yay! Some hope for the first amendment. Somewhere in there, the concept of free expression got lost in the hullabaloo after Prop 8 passed. Now if we could just get the California courts to agree….

  2. beetlebabee said,

    February 28, 2009 at 10:43 pm

    I’m glad to see rulings like this! The idea that only people who are non religious can participate in elections, especially over moral issues, is just bunk. This is a great win for freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Everyone has the freedom to participate in the electoral process.


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