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January 05, 2023

Thought Control?

Can you imagine being arrested because you simply said a prayer on a public sidewalk—not out loud, but in your own mind? This actually happened to a Christian woman a few days before Christmas, not in communist China or North Korea, but in Birmingham, England.

Isabel Vaughan-Spruce, the director of the United Kingdom (U.K.) March for Life was standing silently on a curb across the street from an abortion clinic. A video shows police approaching her and an officer asking, "Are you praying?" She responds, "I might be praying in my mind." The officer tells her, "You are under arrest." Then she was taken to a police station where she was interrogated. Whether she will face criminal charges is not clear.

How could this possibly happen in a Western "free" nation? Police suspected Ms. Vaughan-Spruce had violated a Birmingham law that establishes a "buffer-zone" that criminalizes anyone expressing a view about abortion. The law's reach is broad. It prohibits "graphic, verbal, or written" communication, as well as "prayer or counseling." The U.K. Alliance Defending Freedom describes these so-called "buffer-zones" as what they really are—censorship zones.

There has been a significant backlash to this "thought crime" episode, but the Birmingham law remains in effect and there is even serious discussion about expanding it nationwide.

As outrageous as this event is, powerful pro-abortion, anti-Christian forces in the United States are on the same road in spite of our First Amendment guarantees of freedom of assembly, freedom of religion and freedom of speech.

The law in the United States is called the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act or FACE. In 2022, in the wake of the overturn of Roe v. Wade, the Biden Justice Department used FACE to bring charges against 30 pro-life individuals who had prayed or gathered outside of abortion facilities. The cases are still pending, but the penalties if the pro-lifers are found guilty could range from six months in prison with a $10,000 fine to 10 years in prison. If those arrested did not engage in violence their strongest defense will be our cherished First Amendment, which must be protected to insure our liberty.

There is no doubt that 2023 will see more efforts to silence Christians and to undermine the Bill of Rights that protects all Americans. With your prayers and support, JDFI will continue to defend these constitutional rights.

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