Freedom of Association

by Jor-El Godsey, Vice President

It’s not every day Heartbeat International is considered among the likes of the Sierra Club, PETA, and the NAACP. While these groups focus on the rights of trees, animals, and a key minority people group, they rarely, if ever, find themselves publicly aligned with supporting the rights of the unborn.

So, how is Heartbeat like them at all?

Well, we are a “membership group” just like each of these, and the thousands of membership-based non-profit advocacy groups. Simple? Yes, but profoundly rooted in the fundamental principles of the United States.

And now, thanks to a recent subpoena from the Center for Reproductive Rights, we were reminded that our membership, which we refer to as “affiliates,” is founded in a Constitutional liberty—the Freedom of Association.

The Background

In the process of filing to quash the motion in response to the City of Baltimore’s ordinance infringing upon the First Amendment rights of the Greater Baltimore Center for Pregnancy Concerns, Inc., our friends from Alliance Defending Freedom rightly noted that the “…subpoenas seek information violating the Organizations’ freedom of expressive association and protected by the First Amendment privilege.”

The right to freely enter into or leave an association arises from the First Amendment, and therefore stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the vaunted Freedoms of Speech and Religion.

The God-Ordained Right to Association

A few millennia before this right was enshrined in the Constitution via the Bill of Rights, the concept of association for a greater good was proclaimed by the Preacher:

Two are better off than one, because together they can work more effectively. If one of them falls down, the other can help him up. But if someone is alone and falls, it's just too bad, because there is no one to help him. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (GNT)

When your organization takes the step to affiliate—or associate—with Heartbeat International, we agree to share a common purpose. Together, we agree to live out our vision before the watching world in the way we decide—the very right attacked by the Center for Reproductive Rights’ (note the irony) subpoena.

Our Passion for Association

So when you reach out to us at Heartbeat, we in turn reach out to you. Your missional challenges—in various ways—become ours. That is the heart of our affiliation association. It’s joining together for something greater. 

While this powerful principle undergirds Heartbeat’s network and is critical for a free society, it is more important to note that association is the very center of the Gospel itself. When we associate with the Lord Jesus Christ, He in turn extends Himself to us!

We associate—in claiming ourselves Christians—with Christ and with one another! 

            For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. —Ephesians 3:14-19 (NASB)

We are family in Christ and fellow laborers in this great work of the Gospel of Life. Heartbeat is honored and privileged to be counted with our missional friends in Baltimore as they undergo persecution on account of their passion to bring life-affirming help to those facing life-and-death decisions.


More in this category: « Better Together is God's Idea