28 Jun 2018

Another Victory for Free Speech

Raul Rivera

The Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday, June 26th, that faith-based, Christian pregnancy crisis centers are not legally required to advise women about free and/or low-cost abortions during counseling sessions; additionally, they are not required to have literature in their facility talking about options that are against their deeply held religious beliefs.

This was a close decision, resulting in a 5-4 ruling.

This is a victory for the 200 centers in California and calls into question similar laws in other states, including Illinois and Hawaii.

This ruling could impact all of the 4,000 crisis pregnancy centers, across the United States.

Background on the case

In 2015, California passed the F.A.C.T. Act. The F.A.C.T. Act required all pregnancy crisis centers to provide information about free or low-cost abortions to all the women who they counseled.

Depending on the type of facility, crisis pregnancy centers may be required to display information about abortion in several different languages on the walls of their facility.

After the F.A.C.T. Act became a law, two pregnancy crisis centers in the San Diego Area, Pregnancy Care Center and Fallbrook Pregnancy Resource Center, petitioned California to remove it’s requirements for organizations, whose closely held religious beliefs oppose abortion.

These organizations provided free ultrasounds, counseling, and resources for women with unplanned pregnancies.

Their petition stated that requiring them to provide that information was a violation of their First Amendment right to free speech, as it was contrary to the organization’s closely held religious beliefs.

This case was heard by the United States Supreme Court on March 20, 2018 and was decided upon on June 26, 2018. It is still unclear how the judgement will be acted upon.

Establishing your founding documents can protect your organization!

This is a victory for free speech, now crisis pregnancy centers in California can operate in accordance to their publicly stated convictions.

A good way to publicly state your beliefs and convictions is to have them stated clearly in your founding documents.

One of these documents are your bylaws. Ministries and non-profits live and die, legally speaking, by their bylaws. They serve as a the rulebook in how your ministry or non-profit operates.

Legally, if your bylaws are vague, then how you operate can be open to interpretation and cause serious legal issues in the future.

Make sure that you clarify the purpose of your ministry or religious non-profit.

When writing your founding documents, keep in mind the vision and purpose that God has given your ministry or religious non-profit, so that the founding documents enhance your ability to fulfill your mission.

  • Have a Statement of Faith

A Statement of Faith is an important component to your bylaws. It is a good idea to include Bible verses to give reference to your beliefs.

Having a Statement of Faith allows your organization to make decisions based on your beliefs, while remaining compliant to Federal Laws. Click here to read more. 

In the court case, Winbery vs. La. College, 124 So. 3d.1212, the court stated that, “The ‘Entanglement Doctrine’ provides that a court must decline jurisdiction over a lawsuit when the dispute is so intertwined with matters of religion that a proper resolution cannot be made without interpreting or choosing between competing religious principles or doctrines.”

  • Include Your Ministry’s Written Doctrines

Another important document that should be included in your founding documents is your written doctrines.

The written doctrines further explains your ministry or non-profits stance and beliefs on various points in your statement of faith.

This document fully expresses your ministry or non-profit’s sincerely held religious beliefs regarding any secular or religious issue, backed by Scripture.

Call us today at (770) 638-3444, to get a sample set of written doctrines that you may use as a template to help guide you and your ministry or non-profit in drafting, adopting, and implementing written doctrines.

Review your bylaws annually.

It is important for your board to meet and review your bylaws on an annual basis. This will give your board a chance to make any necessary changes to ensure compliance, review duties of board members, and update your written doctrines as needed.

This review can be done at your annual board meeting at the end of the year. Make sure to record your board meeting minutes, including ratifying your bylaws for another year.

A key part of our StartRIGHT Program is to help every ministry or non-profit create founding documents that reflect their deeply held religious beliefs. Through our unique process, we can help you select clauses and the associated Bible verses to help you fully develop your Statement of Faith and Written Doctrines.

Strengthen Your Bylaws Today!

Click Here

The work you do truly does impact the Kingdom!

While the legal side of your ministry can appear daunting, I want to encourage you to stand strong and know that the work you are doing does impact the Kingdom.

Jesus said, “Be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” Perhaps there is wisdom that you need to apply to your ministry to prepare it for the day and hour in which you live.

StartCHURCH is here to help you find and apply that wisdom. Our team is standing by to be a resource for your questions. We believe your best days are ahead and we look forward to serving you along the way.

Find a Conference Near You

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Please feel free to comment. We always appreciate good dialogue. However, we do moderate each comment to ensure that it is on topic and not derogatory to other participants. We ask that you keep your comments brief and pertinent to the topic so that others may benefit.

Blessings,
Raul Rivera

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About the Author

Church Planter. Speaker. Author. CEO. Raul Rivera has had ample experience in the church planting world. His current venture, StartCHURCH, has helped 1000's of churches to start right. Raul has compiled an array of manuals and software tools that help churches stay compliant with the IRS. He also hosts over 35 national conferences per year, training pastors on how to launch their churches. Raul is married to his wife Genel, and they and their five children live in Atlanta, GA.