In the U.K. today the answer is YES.
The U.K. has introduced a new law that bans silent prayer and any form of influence in a 150-meter zone around abortion facilities nationwide. If you are found silently praying within the length of a football field, you can be arrested and charged.
Set aside any view you might have about the efficacy or ethics of praying outside an abortion clinic. Surely those of us who uphold freedom of expression and conscience as indispensable rights of persons in a free society should be alarmed by such a law.
Isn’t this prosecuting a thought crime?
Each of them was arrested, fined, or acquitted for praying silently in zones deemed too close to an abortion clinic. The recently passed law says the protected censorship zone is the size of a football field.
These zones create legal confusion and empower the state to punish peaceful actions on the public street, which is harmful to a free society. But their supporters say they are protecting women. This aim sounds good in theory, but it is not true. Harassment is always wrong, and that is why it is already illegal under U.K. law. These zones are not about stopping harassment. You don’t need huge zones of silence to do that. This is about suppressing a certain perspective—in this case, the view that every unborn child has a right to life.
Every person should have the right to peacefully think, pray, and act according to his or her beliefs. After these harsh restrictions are introduced, we can expect serious consequences for basic freedoms in the U.K. Today the state is using its silencing power to promote abortion, but tomorrow it could apply similar measures to other issues.
It is urgent that all who care about the preservation of a free society resist the thought police.
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