Alliance Defending Freedom
Trump's draft executive order on religious freedom would free people of faith to serve those in need
February 23, 2017
Notably, the order makes clear that the executive branch is to uphold religious freedom for "persons of all faiths." While it expressly protects (in limited situations) people that speak or act consistently with specific beliefs about marriage and humanity, that is neither surprising nor troublesome. Those particular beliefs (like the conviction that marriage is the union of one man and one woman) were demonstrably targeted and disfavored by the prior administration. The Constitution allows the government to alleviate the most pressing and palpable burdens on religion, which is precisely what this order would do. Trump should sign it, the first of many steps to fulfill his promise to protect religious freedom. If he does that, it would welcome people of faith back into public life and free them to serve their neighbors, especially the most vulnerable, with love and compassion.
February 16, 2017
- Kim Colby, Director Chrisitan Legal Society's Center for Law and Religious Freedom
- Hannah Smith, Senior Counsel, Becket Law
- Rabbi David Saperstein
- Casey Mattox, Senior Counsel, Alliance Defending Freedom's Center for Academic Freedom
February 16, 2017
Under a policy issued by the Obama administration's agriculture secretary, a USDA official threatened to remove all USDA inspectors if West Michigan Beef Company owner Donald Vander Boon didn't permanently refrain from placing in the company's breakroom religious literature supporting marriage between one man and one woman that the department deemed "offensive." After Vander Boon placed a faith-based article concerning marriage on his facility's breakroom table in 2015, Dr. Ryan Lundquist, USDA's public health veterinarian and the inspector in charge on-site at West Michigan Beef, read the article, removed it, and reported it to USDA Frontline Supervisor Robert Becker. They held a meeting with Vander Boon, at which Becker threatened three times to remove USDA inspectors if Vander Boon didn't agree to refrain from placing the article in the breakroom. Becker explained that the ultimatum was based on expanded agency rules against offensive and harassing speech.
December 10, 2016
In July, a lawsuit challenging the Patient Choice and Control at End of Life Act from 2013 was filed by the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare and the Christian Medical Association, which is based in Tennessee. The suit said that Vermont joined Oregon, Washington and California in allowing doctors to prescribe a medication that would allow a terminally ill patient to end their life. But Vermont is the first state that requires all health care professionals to discuss all the patient's options, including the life-ending medication. in a press release sent after the lawsuit was filed, the Alliance Defending Freedom, an Arizona-based advocacy group, described the issue as urging the federal court, "Don't allow Vermont to force us to help kill patients."
November 21, 2016
ADF explains in the letter that federal law protects Ascension Health, the nation's largest nonprofit health system and the world's largest Catholic health system, from being forced to perform sterilization procedures in contradiction to its religious convictions. As the letter explains, not only does the federal Church Amendment offer such protections, but the Affordable Care Act on which the ACLU relies also protects Ascension by stating explicitly that nothing in the ACA "shall be construed to have any effect on Federal laws regarding...conscience protection." "No one should be forced to perform or participate in a procedure when doing so would violate their conscience. This is especially true of medical workers and health care systems who are in the profession largely because of-and as an extension of-their faith," said ADF Legal Counsel Ken Connelly.
October 14, 2016
A federal court just ruled that pregnancy centers have to tell their patients where they can get publicly-funded contraception and an abortion-even if it violates their religious beliefs. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today that California law AB 775, which compels Christian, pro-life pregnancy centers to advocate for abortion, doesn't impede their First Amendment right to exercise their religious beliefs. “Forcing these centers to promote abortion and recite the government’s preferred views is a clear violation of their constitutionally protected First Amendment freedoms,” said Matt Bowman of Alliance for Defending Freedom, which was representing the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates, a faith-based pro-life group with 111 clinics in California.
October 5, 2016
Trinity Lutheran submitted its grant application, and the DNR ranked it fifth out of 44 applicants due to numerous factors, including the poverty level of the surrounding area. But, instead of awarding the grant, the DNR pointed to a section of the state constitution that prohibits government aid to religion and promptly disqualified the learning center solely because it was operated by a church. Committed to preserving the rights of the church, ADF petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court in November 2015 to take the case. "Seeking to protect children from harm while they play tag and go down the slide is about as far from an ‘essentially religious endeavor' as one can get," explains the ADF petition. "The DNR's religious exclusion sends a message that Trinity's children are less worthy of protection simply because they play on a playground owned by a church. This is not a mild disapproval of religion." The high court accepted the petition to hear the case, and oral arguments are set for fall 2016. SCOTUS blog coverage
October 3, 2016
A medical ethics group and a Christian doctors’ group have challenged Vermont regulators who say that doctors must tell patients about assisted suicide or refer them to someone who will. “The government shouldn’t be telling health care professionals that they must violate their medical ethics in order to practice medicine,” said Steven H. Aden, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom. The lawsuit’s plaintiffs, the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare and the Christian Medical and Dental Association, object to state officials’ requirements that could force physicians to refer for assisted suicide under the 2013 assisted suicide law known passed as Act 39, the Patient Control at End of Life Act.
October 1, 2016
Crisis pregnancy centers in northern Illinois have filed a federal lawsuit alleging their employees' freedom of speech and religious rights will be violated if the state forces them to give patients information about abortion services. "The government shouldn't be putting messages in people's mouths," said Noel Sterett, an attorney for the centers. The centers hope to have the Illinois Healthcare Right of Conscience Act amendment, which goes into effect Jan. 1, abolished as unconstitutional. The suit also seeks to have the state permanently barred from enforcing the amendment and from penalizing those who don't comply.
September 2, 2016
Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing an Iowa church filed a federal lawsuit against members of the Iowa Civil Rights Commission, among others, to stop the government from censoring the church's teaching on biblical sexuality and from forcing the church to open its restrooms and showers to members of the opposite sex.
August 5, 2016
The bill requires that doctors who are unwilling to perform or participate in abortions, or other procedures, such as sterilization, provide a referral for another doctor or another medical center in a timely manner. The Alliance Defending Freedom is representing the plaintiffs, including Dr. Anthony Caruso, who practices medicine in Downers Grove at the Bella Baby OBGYN center, as well as the Pregnancy Care Center of Rockford and Aid for Women, a Chicago non-profit that runs six pregnancy help centers and two residential programs. The suit claims the bill violates the Illinois Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1998, and violates Free Speech Protections of the Illinois Constitution by being "forced to speak" about services that are against their own beliefs. It also claims the bill violates the Freedom of Religion, and the Equal Protection Clause in the U.S. Constitution.
July 23, 2016
wo medical groups have filed a federal lawsuit to challenge language in the Vermont's assisted suicide law that they believe requires physicians to counsel patients about ending their lives. The Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare and Tennessee-based Christian Medical Association were represented in the suit on Tuesday, along with several doctors in the state who are concerned about how the government interprets the "Patient Choice and Control at End of Life Act," also known as Act 39. "The government shouldn't be telling health care professionals that they must violate their medical ethics in order to practice medicine," Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) Senior Counsel Steven Aden said in a statement announcing the suit. "These doctors and other health care workers deeply believe that suffering patients need understanding and sound medical treatment, not encouragement to kill themselves. The state has no authority to order them to act contrary to that sincere and time-honored conviction."
July 6, 2016
Last week, the Department of Defense ended its recognition of service members' biology and supplanted it with a radical ideology pushed by the Obama administration. As other commentators pointed out recently (here and here), there is no military justification for this move. 1. Military medical providers' religious freedom, freedom of conscience, and professional discretion are threatened. 2. According to the new policy, discrimination based on gender identity is a form of sex discrimination. 3. The accommodation language means...what, exactly? 4. Standards are now anything but standard. 5. The Department of Defense looked beyond our borders for justification.
July 1, 2016
Jocelyn Samuels, director of the federal agency's Office for Civil Rights, wrote in the response letter: "A finding that [California Department of Managed Health Care] has violated the Weldon Amendment might require the government to rescind all funds appropriated under the Appropriations Act to the state of California." Rescinding the taxpayer money, Samuels added, "would raise substantial questions about the constitutionality of the Weldon Amendment." Addressing that position, Alliance Defending Freedom's Casey Mattox said, "The Obama administration says enforcing the Weldon Amendment against California would violate the Constitution because you would be withholding all of these funds from the state. Which is very interesting because at the exact same time, you have the administration telling North Carolina that it's going to withhold funds under the exact same appropriations bill."
June 22, 2016
The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) rejected complaints Tuesday from California churches and religious groups against a state regulation that mandates abortion coverage in all state health care plans with no religious exemptions. The California Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) stated in an August 2014 letter to seven insurance companies that they were required to include elective abortions in their health plans with no exceptions. The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) filed a complaint with HHS in September 2014 on behalf of seven employees and health care plan participants with Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. “The Obama administration is once again making a mockery of the law, and this time in the most unimaginable way,” Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Casey Mattox responded to the decision Tuesday.
June 9, 2016
A former Rockford nurse files a lawsuit with the Winnebago County Health Department after she says she was fired because of her religious beliefs. According to the filed complaint, Public Health Administrator Sandra Martell merged pediatrics with women's health services and mandated that all nurses train to provide abortion referrals. Mendoza says when she informed her boss that she would not be participating because that would interfere with her religious beliefs, she says Martell gave her the ultimatum to either quit or take a job as a food inspector. Mendoza's attorney, Noel Sterett, says state law protects her and her beliefs. Mendoza is seeking damages under the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act. There is a bill that would force doctors and nurses to promote and perform abortions despite their personal beliefs. That is currently awaiting the approval of Governor Bruce Rauner.
May 26, 2016
Stephanie has several children that came to her through a foster program. If you met them on the street, you would never suspect that two of her daughters had suffered severe molestation and rape by men that they trusted. For these girls, feeling safe and secure in private settings-such as bedrooms, bathrooms, and locker rooms-is necessary to heal. And to feel safe, these girls need to know that their private spaces will not be invaded by a male. You would think that the school these girls attend would be especially protective of them. You would be wrong. The school voluntarily adopted a policy that would allow boys into the girls' restrooms, locker rooms, and even hotel rooms on school trips. The school callously ignored Stephanie's explanation that the presence of a boy in these private settings would be a trigger event for her daughters, causing severe psychological harm and setting back the progress they had made.
May 26, 2016
Illinois came one step closer to forcing its pro-life medical community to choose between violating state law and violating deeply held religious conscience Wednesday, as the state's House approved Senate Bill 1564 and set the legislation on the governor's desk. Originally put forward in the summer of 2015, the legislation would require pro-life medical providers, including 51 Illinois nonprofit pregnancy centers offering free services including ultrasound and STI testing, to take action the bill's opponents say amounts to participating in an abortion. Matt Bowman, senior legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), said, "This Amendment takes away the rights of Illinois women to be treated by a pro-life doctor, because it would force medical facilities and physicians who conscientiously object to performing abortions (and other procedures) to refer for, make arrangements for someone else to perform, or arrange referral information that lists willing providers, for abortions,"
May 16, 2016
Alliance Defending Freedom represents five Christian universities whose cases were consolidated with those brought by 32 other plaintiffs, all objecting on religious grounds to providing abortion-inducing or contraceptive drugs through their healthcare plans.Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel David Cortman had this to say about today's decision: "Religious organizations have the freedom to peacefully operate according to their beliefs without fear of severe penalties by the government. The Supreme Court was right to protect the Christian colleges and other groups from having to pay fines or fill out forms authorizing the objectionable coverage. The government has many other ways to ensure women are able to obtain these drugs without forcing people of faith to participate in acts that violate their deepest convictions. We look forward to addressing the remaining details as we advance these cases in the lower courts."
May 10, 2016
Today people disagree on a profound range of ethically grounded decisions about practices, from abortion to in vitro fertilization to assisted suicide, that go to the heart of what citizens believe properly constitutes health care. Combine these deepening differences with a tendency to bureaucratize and centralize health-care financing and administration, and profound clashes are sure to follow. It is nearly impossible for average citizens to discern whether their plans cover elective abortion before enrolling, much less the import of that fact—that they are paying a hidden abortion surcharge. UH’s exit is not just a sign of the economic problems facing Obamacare; it may also expose more Americans to the “choice” to pay for elective abortions or be fined.
May 1, 2016
[orig. pub. 1/27/15] The simple truth is this: one need not be required to take innocent life before one ought to be able to stand firm in one’s conscience against an unjust law. As the tradition teaches, even the tiniest pinch of incense to Caesar is too much compromise for a well-formed conscience. Indeed, stopping an unjust law before it leads to innocent bloodshed is morally preferable, is it not? Ask King—or, if you prefer, St. Thomas More, Maximilian Kolbe, or Dietrich Bonhoeffer. When conscience flirts with the idea of accommodating an unjust law, it must politely, yet firmly, reject the sirens of seduction. Any other result would be—in a word—compromise.
April 27, 2016
The commission says Tennessee's H.B. 1840, which was passed by the legislature and is awaiting the governor's decision, "will permit mental health professionals to deny counseling services to LGBT people based upon ‘sincerely held religious beliefs."' The dissent more accurately describes the bill, which allows counselors or therapists whose beliefs "conflict with a potential client's ‘goals, outcomes or behaviors' to decline to offer counseling/therapy to that potential client, provided that he or she refers the potential client to someone who will." Far from denying service, the bill actually "decreases the likelihood" that someone seeking counseling or therapy will be "saddled with a counselor or therapist" whose beliefs don't align with the potential client's counseling goals.
April 26, 2016
"We asked the Colorado Supreme Court to take this case to ensure that government understands that its duty is to protect the people's freedom to follow their beliefs personally and professionally, not force them to violate those beliefs as the price of earning a living," Jeremy Tedesco, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the legal group representing Philips, said in a statement released Monday. In 2012, Charlie Craig and David Mullins requested Philips bake them a custom wedding cake to celebrate their Massachusetts marriage. Philips declined, citing his religious convictions, but recommended another bakery nearby. Craig and Mullins filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which eventually ruled against Philips in 2014.
April 12, 2016
The Alliance Defending Freedom news release below highlights an important case that illustrates just how far some will go to force abortion ideology on those who would protect the unborn. Thanks to colleagues Matt Bowman and Kevin Theriot for their typically excellent work in this case. "Those who doubt that anyone would ever try to force someone to commit an abortion need only look at this case," explained ADF Senior Counsel Matt Bowman. "This is precisely what the ACLU sought to do. The court came to the right conclusion in putting an end to their quest. The ruling relies on important case law that our pro-life medical group clients cited showing that the ACLU's case was based on pure speculation."
April 12, 2016
Last December a group of pro-life organizations represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom filed a motion to intervene on the case. These groups included the Catholic Medical Association, Christian Medical Association, American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and Concerned Women for America. In a statement released following news of the dismissal, ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot said, "No American should be forced to commit an abortion - least of all faith-based medical workers who went into the profession to follow their faith and save lives, not take them."
April 1, 2016
Public restrooms are places where women and girls may shower, change their clothes, handle personal grooming issues, and take care of many other private matters unique to females. Many people are uncomfortable merely discussing these topics, so imagine the discomfort when women have to do such activities with males present. Women and girls shouldn’t be forced to conduct these private activities in a confined space with male strangers present. Consider especially that girls and women who have been sexually abused will suffer the additional trauma of being compelled to engage in their most intimate activities in the immediate company of male strangers.
March 14, 2016
Alliance Defending Freedom is representing the Catholic health group. On Thursday, the pro-life legal firm said a federal court agreed to allow several pro-life doctor groups to intervene in defense of the Catholic hospital system. These groups are the Catholic Medical Association, the Christian Medical Association and the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists. ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot spoke in defense of Trinity Health: "No American should be forced to commit an abortion. No law requires faith-based hospitals and medical personnel to commit abortions against their faith and conscience, and, in fact, federal law directly prohibits the government from engaging in any such coercion. In addition, the government can't tie any funding to a requirement that hospitals and health care workers give up their constitutionally protected freedoms."
March 3, 2016
A lower court ruled that Stutzman, owner of Arlene's Flowers in Richland, must pay penalties and attorneys' fees for declining to use her artistic abilities to design custom floral arrangements for a long-time customer's same-sex ceremony. Rather than participate in the ceremony, Stutzman referred Rob Ingersoll, whom she considers a friend and had served for nearly 10 years, to several other florists in the area who would provide high-quality arrangements and wedding support. "Barronelle and many others like her around the country have been willing to serve any and all customers, but they are understandably not willing to promote any and all messages," said ADF Senior Counsel Kristen Waggoner.
February 10, 2016
On Jan. 28, in the third such effort in a federal court, a lawyer from Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal group that is representing the El Cajon clinic and others, argued in San Diego for a preliminary injunction. In the 90-minute hearing, Matt Bowman, a lawyer for the conservative group, argued that the law imposed an onerous and unconstitutional burden. "You've got to give women information about abortion even though the reason you exist is to give them alternatives to abortion," he said, arguing against the mandate.
February 8, 2016
Fourteen briefs have been filed with the U.S. Supreme Court that encourage it to weigh in on Washington state rules that force pharmacy owners and pharmacists to stock and dispense drugs contrary to their religious beliefs instead of allowing them to refer customers to other pharmacies and pharmacists as they are allowed to do in all 49 other states. The state allows referrals for a variety of reasons but singles out religiously motivated referrals as prohibited. "No one should be forced to choose between following their deepest religious beliefs and following an unjust, unneeded government mandate that targets only people of faith. The briefs filed with the Supreme Court agree that this kind of hostility to religion isn't constitutional or the least bit necessary," said Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Vice President of Legal Services Kristen Waggoner.
January 20, 2016
The Obama administration has been trying to force private organizations into paying for abortion and abortifacients while backing off from forcing individuals to do the same. This spring, the Obama administration will again ask the Supreme Court to allow it to force Catholic nuns, Christian universities, and other nonprofits to help deliver abortion-inducing drugs to their employees in violation of their religious beliefs. While the administration continues to defend that mandate, however, it has largely-but quietly-relented on another Obamacare requirement that forced citizens of some states pay a surcharge for others' elective abortions.
January 15, 2016
The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Friday to take up a case that addresses the question of whether states can exhibit hostility to religion by prohibiting churches and church-run organizations from participating in state programs solely because the groups are religious. ADF attorneys represent a church-run pre-school and daycare center which the state of Missouri excluded from a program that provides recycled tire products to surface children's playgrounds. "No state can define religious neutrality as treating religious organizations worse than everyone else," said ADF Senior Counsel David Cortman.
November 24, 2015
Alliance Defending Freedom sent a letter Tuesday to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' Salem, Va., medical center after it issued a Christmas memo to its employees that explained they are only "permitted to engage in private religious expression in their personal work areas that are not regularly open to the public" in an effort to extend "a happy holiday season in a manner that is welcoming to all." The wording of the memo leaves open the possibility that employees could be punished for Christmas decorations or "merry Christmas" greetings to veterans except in personal workstations that are out of public view. "It's ridiculous that people have to think twice about whether it's okay to celebrate Christmas as Christmas rather than some watered-down winter holiday," said ADF Senior Counsel Erik Stanley.
November 17, 2015
With the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court not to hear the case of Bronx Household of Faith v. Board of Education of the City of New York, the for-now final outcome of this 20-year-old case-centered on the public's right to meet for worship in rented public school facilities-is now in the hands of the city's mayor, Bill de Blasio. While he has assured Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys and their allies (including many New York civic and religious leaders) that, under his administration, churches like Bronx Household will be allowed to hold worship services in public buildings, the only permanent hope for that freedom now lies with the state legislature.
September 1, 2015
We are delighted that the court has ruled in our favor on this crucially important case," March for Life President Jeanne Mancini said in a statement. "The government should not be allowed to force organizations like the March for Life to have health insurance with drugs and devices that can cause an abortion."
"Pro-life organizations should not be forced into betraying the very values they were established to advance," enior legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom Matt Bowman said in a statement. "This is especially true of March for Life, which was founded to uphold life, not to assist in taking it."
July 24, 2015
"Public officials should not be allowed to run roughshod over the right of the people to decide these types of issues, especially when the citizens of Houston clearly met all the qualifications for having their voice heard," Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel Erik Stanley said in a statement. "The scandal began when the city arbitrarily threw out the valid signatures of thousands of voters. The city did this all because it was bent on pushing through its deeply unpopular ordinance at any cost."
June 28, 2015
"People of faith and people who believe that marriage is one man and one woman are going to continue to be heckled, harassed or even persecuted legally under the law as they have been in the past. We need strong public officials to stand up [and pass] laws protecting them. The Alliance Defending Freedom and other groups like ours will continue to defend people of faith and the rights of conscience that are cornerstones of our constitution."
June 27, 2015
The court in Obergefell v. Hodges ignored history, the text and meaning of the Constitution, and prior Supreme Court jurisprudence to justify its holding that the 14th Amendment mandates the recognition of same-sex marriage. The decision becomes all the more difficult to explain when one considers that exactly two years ago, to the day, Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the same court, assured us in United States v. Windsor that states rightly possess the "historic and essential authority to define the marital relation."
June 26, 2015
"What today's decision did was strip that flat freedom to do so. Not just from them but the entire democratic process that we so near and dear to America. I think we're headed into some unchartered territories, affects towards religious freedom. And it remains to be seen, will people in this country still remain protected under the first amendment to live according to their faith with respect to marriage."
June 23, 2015
In separate free-speech rulings Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled against an Arizona town's sign code, which was used to punish a small, local church. In the eight-year-long Arizona church sign case, Reed v. Town of Gilbert, Justice Clarence Thomas concluded that the town's signage code was "content based," which meant the code had to meet the highest constitutional test. Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel David Cortman, who represented Pastor Clyde Reed and Good News Community Church, said the unanimous ruling was a "victory for everyone's freedom of speech."
June 3, 2015
Attorney Jim Campbell, who handles various constitutional cases for the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), has a working list written down at his office in Scottsdale, Ariz. The list details benefits religious nonprofits could lose if the Supreme Court makes gay marriage a constitutional right. When he arrived at work recently, he read it off: 501(c)3 status, tax benefits, government licensing, accreditation, and government contracts or grants, among others.
May 12, 2015
These individuals, and their bold ideas (whether in art, literature, music, science, or civil rights), were made possible because they lived in societies where religion thrived. Their religious beliefs were allowed to inform and guide their actions. Their faith inspired their contributions in their given fields-contributions that left indelible marks on Western Civilization. When religious freedom is extinguished, when individuals are told to separate their faith from their work-to confine it to their home or church-our society loses something of great worth. We lose beauty, inspiration, and innovation born out of service to a higher calling.
April 30, 2015
That question of knowing one's parent plays a significant, yet under-the-radar, role in the marriage cases before the Supreme Court. Among others, two women, Heather Barwick and Katy Faust, filed a friend-of-the-court brief in which they discuss their experiences as children raised by women in same-sex relationships who felt deprived of their fathers. Katy expanded on this theme in a recent piece she penned titled, "Dear Justice Kennedy: An Open Letter from the Child of a Loving Gay Parent."
April 22, 2015
The issue pertinent here is not whether the death penalty for convicted murderers is moral or not. The issue is whether the state should be able to force people to help facilitate an execution against their will. And it raises the greater question of when the government, in general, can compel people to act against their beliefs. That is why we need state laws like the religious freedom law that the federal government and 20 other states have approved, and that the North Carolina Legislature is currently considering. Government exercises its actions through coercion, and sometimes, the government can achieve its end without compelling those with a moral objection to participate in something that violates their conscience.
April 9, 2015
These new political, cultural, and legal realities directly affect the church's freedom to live out its faith. While most church decisions about internal governance or doctrine currently enjoy constitutional protection, churches cannot assume that these protections will stand indefinitely. Maintaining a gospel-centered witness in today's culture requires not only standing firm on the truths of Scripture, but also taking affirmative steps to protect the church's freedom to continue peacefully teach and live out its faith. Here are five ways churches can protect their freedom to maintain fidelity to the faith.
April 8, 2015
Of all of the principles that the left is suddenly willing to sacrifice on the altar of same-sex marriage - free speech, free exercise of religion, the rule of law, the right to vote, etc. - the most surprising to me is that it is now demanding compulsory participation and support of religious services. The opponents of RFRA are still quick to deploy their "separation of church and state" cliché, but one side is demanding that the state fine people for declining to participate in a religious service. It isn't mine. It's the ACLU and its allies who are ready to use the power of the state to compel unwilling people to participate in religious services.
April 2, 2015
It has been 22 years since President Clinton signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law. In two decades of RFRAs, the world has not ended. In fact, not a single person who identifies as homosexual has been harmed by these RFRAs. None. This may come as a surprise to you if you have watched any of the media coverage or been on social media for the last several days. The unhinged claims from the Left have been entirely detached from the reality that these laws have actually existed for decades and have never resulted in any of the things they worry will happen. This is not new. Dire warnings that are unsurprisingly not confirmed by future events have been a common theme in arguments from the Left in recent years.
February 18, 2015
A state judge ruled Wednesday that Washington floral artist and grandmother Barronelle Stutzman must provide full support for wedding ceremonies that are contrary to her faith. The court claims that Stutzman's referral of a long-time customer to another business for floral design and support for a same-sex ceremony violated Washington law. The court also ruled recently that both the state and the same-sex couple, who each filed lawsuits against her, may collect damages and attorneys' fees not only from her business, but from Stutzman personally. "The message of these rulings is unmistakable: the government will bring about your personal and professional ruin if you don't help celebrate same-sex marriage," said ADF Senior Counsel Kristen Waggoner, who argued before the court in December.
January 13, 2015
David Cortman, who represented Reed before the justices, warned afterward, "No one's speech is safe if the government is allowed to pick free-speech winners and losers based on the types of speech government officials prefer." In addition to the ERLC, among others signing onto the CLS brief were the Anglican Church in North America, Association of Christian Schools International, Christian Medical Association, Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability and Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.
November 5, 2014
March for Life, the pro-life organization that holds its well-known annual march in Washington, D.C., is challenging the Obama administration's abortion-pill mandate, which forces employers, regardless of their moral convictions, to provide insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception under threat of heavy financial penalties through the IRS. "Pro-life organizations must be free to operate according to the beliefs they espouse," said Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel Matt Bowman. "March for Life was founded to oppose the tragedy of abortion - the very thing the government is forcing the organization to provide through its health insurance plan. The government cannot selectively punish organizations that wish to abide by their beliefs."
October 15, 2014
More than 1,800 pastors in all 50 states plus Puerto Rico have participated so far in the Alliance Defending Freedom seventh annual Pulpit Freedom Sunday event, which began this year on Oct. 5. Of those participating, 1,517 preached sermons presenting biblical perspectives on the positions of electoral candidates and signed a statement agreeing that the IRS should not control the content of a pastor’s sermon. “The tax-collecting IRS shouldn’t be playing speech cop and threatening a church’s tax-exempt status simply because its pastor exercises his constitutionally protected freedom of speech,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Erik Stanley, who heads the Pulpit Freedom Sunday event.
October 9, 2014
Life Legal Defense Foundation and Alliance Defending Freedom filed a formal complaint Thursday with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services over the California Department of Managed Health Care's decision to force all employers, including churches, to pay for elective abortions in their health insurance plans. LLDF and ADF represent seven California churches that object to offering their employees insurance plans covering elective abortions and allege that DMHC's coercion of abortion coverage violates federal law. LLDF Legal Director Catherine Short noted,"DMHC would have us believe that, while the Legislature exempted these churches from the state's contraceptive coverage mandate, it nonetheless intended to force them to cover all abortions under the rubric of 'basic health care.'"
September 12, 2014
Life Legal Defense Foundation and Alliance Defending Freedom have filed a formal complaint with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services over the California Department of Managed Health Care's decision to force Loyola Marymount University and its employees to pay for elective abortions in their health insurance plans. "Under federal law, pro-life employers have the freedom to choose health insurance plans that do not conflict with their beliefs on the dignity of human life," said LLDF Legal Director Catherine Short.
September 9, 2014
The California decision to compel Catholic institutions to facilitate abortions in violation of their conscience would have been unthinkable in 1975 when the state law now cited as the basis for this new mandate was enacted. After four decades of relentless effort by the ACLU, it has now found government support for its illiberal agenda to not just secure an unenumerated abortion right but to also subjugate any individual religious liberty objections to this abortion right. It is time for the Healthcare Conscience Rights Act. Introduced by Rep. Diane Black and Sen. Tom Coburn, this bill would provide a permanent home in the U.S. Code for the Weldon Amendment, ensuring that critical protections for conscience rights are not subject to the political winds in any given budget cycle. It would also provide a clear right for anyone whose conscience protections are violated to seek to stop the violation in court.
August 14, 2014
"All Americans should oppose unjust laws that force people - under threat of punishment - to give up their freedom to live and work according to their beliefs," said ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot. "Louisiana College is a Christian college that simply wants to continue to operate as a Christian college as it has since its founding in 1906. The court - in the first final ruling finding against the mandate that we are aware of - did the right thing in striking down the Obamacare abortion-pill mandate as it applies to Louisiana College's health insurance coverage."
August 3, 2014
But the Christian legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) says that the public deserves to know what procedures the IRS has set in place as to who will be investigated and how. "Secrecy breeds mistrust, and the IRS should know this in light of its recent scandals involving the investigation of conservative groups," said ADF Litigation Counsel Christiana Holcomb. "We are asking the IRS to disclose the new protocols and procedures it apparently adopted for determining whether to investigate churches. What it intends to do to churches must be brought into the light of day."
July 31, 2014
"The new law is unconstitutional not only because it is vague and overbroad, but also because it purports to grant law enforcement the power to issue a temporary restraining order - a power that may only be exercised by courts," attorney Michael DePrimo said, according to a report by Kathryn Jean Lopez on National Review Online. Mr. DePrimo helped represent Supreme Court petitioner Eleanor McCullen, 77, who argued that Massachusetts' old buffer zone law was so extensive that it violated her rights to freedom of speech.
June 30, 2014
"I'm here at the Supreme Court today, where we have just had a tremendous victory for religious liberty...to protect family-owned businesses from being forced to do things that violate their faith--particularly providing abortifacients that would violate their conscience." [click image or link to view video]
June 27, 2014
Mark Rienzi -- who argued in January before the justices on behalf of Eleanor McCullen, a grandmother who does sidewalk counseling in Boston -- said the court's opinion "has affirmed a critical freedom that has been an essential part of American life since the nation's founding. Americans have the freedom to talk to whomever they please on public sidewalks," Rienzi, who is allied with the Alliance Defending Freedom, said in a written release. "That includes peaceful pro-lifers like Eleanor McCullen, who just wants to offer information and help to women who would like it." Christian Legal Society filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of a coalition of religious organizations in support of citizens' religious speech and assembly rights.
June 6, 2014
Christian Parks, a student at Thomas Nelson Community College in Hampton, was preaching in the campus courtyard last year. A school police officer told him to stop because his words "might offend someone." Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) filed suit this March. "We commend the Virginia Community College System for revising its speech policy to align with what a marketplace of ideas should be," said Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) attorney Travis Barham.
May 4, 2014
"With Obamacare, if you like your current plan, you can't always keep it, and you may have to pay for other people's abortions in your new plan," said Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel Casey Mattox in a statement. "Neither the Constitution nor federal and state law allow for this type of government coercion."
The lawsuit also challenges the so-called "secrecy clauses" that prohibit insurers on the exchange from divulging whether their policies cover abortion and what portion of the premiums collected from enrollees go toward paying for elective abortions.
April 7, 2014
Today's actions by the Supreme Court may unfortunately embolden some to expand their efforts to punish and humiliate publicly those who believe marriage is defined only as one man and one woman. The zealous followers of this ascendant orthodoxy supporting same-sex marriage are falling into the same error that many have stumbled into before them-when you gain power somewhere, punish the "heretics" and hound them to the outskirts of society. As a First Amendment attorney, I am concerned that this dark time of viewpoint suppression will get darker before it gets better.
March 4, 2014
The Arizona Legislature sent Mrs. Brewer an amendment to the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act that would have given business owners a defense against local and state action that would "burden the person's exercise of religion." Homosexual activists made the defeat of this measure their top priority, even though the words "gay" or "homosexual" do not appear anywhere in the legislation.The governor's veto "enables the foes of faith to more easily suppress the freedom of the people of Arizona," argued Doug Napier, a lawyer with the Alliance Defending Freedom, based in Scottsdale, Ariz.
March 2, 2014
In their petition, the Huguenins and lawyer Jordan W. Lorence of the Alliance Defending Freedom mention religion frequently. But their plea does not cite constitutional protection of their right to freely exercise their religion. Instead, they rely on another part of the First Amendment: their right to free speech.
February 27, 2014
Distortion has been out in full force regarding the bill, a simple adjustment the Arizona Legislature made to the state's existing religious freedom law to make clear what it has always protected and to bring it into conformity with federal law. From what you see on TV, however, you might think every person in Arizona wants to stop serving sandwiches to those who aren't heterosexual.
February 26, 2014
Doug Napier, senior counsel for the conservative Alliance Defending Freedom in Scottsdale, said the veto represented a defeat for freedom and victory for fear and a national campaign that the bill's proponents said had wildly distorted the bill. "Freedom loses when fear overwhelms facts and a good bill is vetoed. Today's veto enables the foes of faith to more easily suppress the freedom of the people of Arizona," Mr. Napier said in a statement.
February 3, 2014
Ken Connelly, whose organization Alliance Defending Freedom has intervened in the Norfolk case to defend Virginia's law, said the handful of cases decided in the aftermath of Windsor are simply wrong. "There are plenty of rational reasons for states to adopt the time-tested definition of marriage" as that between a man and a woman, Connelly said. The importance of Windsor was the court's recognition of a state's role in making that definition, he said.
January 13, 2014
I don't know how much more emphatically the Supreme Court could make this point. Even if an activity is a mere "gratuitous" privilege or benefit, the government's placement of a condition on that activity inconsistent with someone's religious beliefs constitutes a substantial burden. This is because in America, pursuing free activities consistent with one's beliefs is at the heart of the meaning of our "liberties of religion." It is "too late in the day" to even propose otherwise.
December 2, 2013
Nearly 100 companies, nonprofits and religious groups, including several Catholic dioceses, have challenged the birth control rule. The two cases the Supreme Court took involve commercial interests. "What it shows in taking on both cases is that the court is interested in hearing the full array of issues that were present in both petitions and the diversity in which Americans practice their faith in all types of business," said David Cortman of Alliance Defending Freedom, which represents Conestoga.
December 1, 2013
The last time the Obama administration asked the Supreme Court to cut religion from the First Amendment it lost 9-0 in Hosanna Tabor. Time and again, the Supreme Court has ruled that corporations, such as churches and universities, can exercise religion.
October 3, 2013
The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a district court order holding off enforcement of the Department of Health and Human Services abortion-drug, contraception, sterilization mandate, against Hercules, Inc., a family-owned HVAC business, which the Obama administration challenged. The Department of Justice has argued that the Newland family of Denver doesn't have religious liberty in "the marketplace of commerce."
October 2, 2013
The Obama administration has never been able to prove that merely having the freedom to decide whether to cover other people's abortion pills and birth control would cause some kind of catastrophe. But now the Obama administration is backhandedly admitting that the abortion-pill mandate is not the highest priority of government in the first place. If it were, defending it would not stop during a shutdown.
September 5, 2013
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), once claiming to support religious freedom, recently praised a Mennonite family's loss in court, opining with regard to the family's small woodworking business that "corporations don't pray and have values." Really? What about churches? They are corporations, too. Don't they pray? The New York Times and the ACLU themselves are both corporations. They have no values?
August 29, 2013
Just as the Panera Bread or Whole Foods business approach is integral to their larger mission, many other businesses believe their unique values are fundamental to the business models they have built. Increasingly, however, when businesses' values are at odds with the prevailing opinion of government officials and leftist activist groups, they suffer persecution.
August 27, 2013
The Associated Press reports that some churches are taking steps to change their bylaws after the Supreme Court's recent ruling on the federal Defense of Marriage Act out of a desire to protect themselves from potential claims by same-sex couples.
August 14, 2013
Critics of the contraception mandate in President Obama's healthcare law said they will appeal to the Supreme Court after a federal appeals court declined to re-hear their case Wednesday. Alliance Defending Freedom, one of the organizations challenging the contraception mandate in the courts, said it will ask the Supreme Court to consider whether the mandate is unconstitutional.
August 9, 2013
A family business that manufactures sights and scopes for the military, law enforcement, and hunters has filed suit through its Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys against the Obama administration's abortion pill mandate. The suit joins an ever-growing number of legal challenges to the mandate, a component of Obamacare that forces employers, regardless of their religious or moral convictions, to provide insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs and devices, sterilization, and contraception under threat of heavy penalties. "All Americans, including job creators, should be free to honor God and live according to their consciences wherever they are," said Senior Legal Counsel Matt Bowman.
July 26, 2013
The Obama Administration is using healthcare law to become a dictator of conscience. ObamaCare is holding your healthcare hostage and offering no real choice. It requires you to either comply and abandon your religious freedom and conscience, or resist and be fined for your faith. By upholding the individual mandate, the greater of either the cost of the ObamaCare plan or up to 2.5% of your salary can now be taken straight from your tax returns. But by God's grace, there is still hope for the future of religious freedom.
June 21, 2013
Geneva College in Pennsylvania has been given temporary relief from having to provide emergency contraceptives in its health-insurance plans, as required by the federal contraception mandate. "The court has done the right thing in allowing Geneva College to suspend the enforcement of the Obama administration's abortion-pill mandate for the student health plan while the case moves forward," said Gregory Baylor, senior counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom, which represents the college.
June 11, 2013
Keep your faith to yourself. That was the message Ania Joseph, executive director of Pro-Life Revolution, and her lawyer at Alliance Defending Freedom took away from conversations with an IRS agent during a two-and-a-half-year application process for tax-exempt status that ended just last week.
May 6, 2013
David Cortman, senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, said using prayer to open public meetings is a long-standing American tradition that has been upheld by the Supreme Court. "Nonetheless, new legal attacks by people and activist groups claiming to be 'offended' by the way private citizens voluntarily pray have created significant confusion in the lower courts," he said.
November 3, 2012
Last month, more than 1,500 pastors, organized by the Alliance Defending Freedom, endorsed a candidate from the pulpit and then sent a record of their statement to the IRS, hoping their challenge would eventually end up in court. The Alliance has organized the event, called "Pulpit Freedom Sunday," since 2008. The IRS has never contacted a pastor involved in the protest.
October 2, 2012
Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing Tyndale House Publishers filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday against the Obama administration’s abortion pill mandate. Tyndale House is one of the world’s largest privately held Christian publishers of books, Bibles, and digital media. The publisher is subject to the mandate because Obama administration rules say for-profit corporations are categorically non-religious, even though Tyndale House is strictly a publisher of Bibles and other Christian materials.
September 25, 2012
Minor children on their parents' health care plans will have free coverage of sterilization and contraception, including abortion-causing drugs, under the controversial HHS mandate - and depending on the state, they can obtain access without parental consent. Matt Bowman, senior counsel for the religious liberty legal group Alliance Defending Freedom, said the mandate "tramples parental rights" because it requires them to "pay for and sponsor coverage of abortifacients, sterilization, contraception and education in favor of the same for their own children."
September 20, 2012
The Obama Administration's mandate that religious employers provide contraception, abortifacients and sterilization for their employees is a monumental attack on religious liberty: never before has our government chosen to force American citizens to violate their consciences so directly. Yet while Alliance Defending Freedom successfully makes the case that this law violates employers' religious freedom, the potentially devastating impacts of this mandate on others should not be ignored.
August 25, 2012
David Stevens, MD and CEO of the Christian Medical Association: “What will stop this administration, with its radical pro-abortion agenda, from further undermining conscience rights and pursuing policies that effectively force out of medicine physicians with life-honoring convictions? Who will keep government panels from effectively denying physicians and patients choice about what are the most effective and appropriate medicines, surgeries and treatments? We call on Congress to turn back this law’s assault on our freedoms and restore American values and constitutional principles in health care.”
August 18, 2012
What is the breadth and scope of the religious liberty you believe ought to be respected? Do you believe religious liberty stops where Planned Parenthood's financial needs begin? Should Americans be forced to pay for that which violates their conscience and the tenets of their faith?
July 27, 2012
“Every American, including family business owners, should be free to live and do business according to their faith. For the time being, Hercules Industries will be able to do just that,” said Matt Bowman, legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, the Arizona-based organization representing the Newlands. “The bottom line is that Congress and the Constitution explicitly protect all religious freedom. They don’t exclude family businesses.”
July 26, 2012
The basic principle in this case is the same as in other cases: that Congress does not let federal agencies punish people of faith for abiding by their faith, without passing the most demanding test known to federal law. We believe that in this case the government does not even come close to justifying its refusal to exempt religious objectors. This is because Congress provided secular exemptions for millions of employees, and it could easily give out more free contraception itself if the political will existed.
July 10, 2012
The fight against the abortion pill mandate is a fight for religious freedom, whereas the ObamaCare case revolved primarily around the constitutionality of the health care legislation as a whole. Freedom of conscience itself is at stake with the abortion pill mandate.
June 29, 2012
Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List: "From the outset, Obamacare is fundamentally flawed legislation because it makes American taxpayers complicit in the deaths of countless unborn children. Today's decision to uphold the individual mandate to force individuals to purchase health care plans that offend their conscience is incredibly disappointing."
June 29, 2012
The first of Obamacare's hammers has already fallen, targeting religious freedom. And attention must now turn to the dozens of cases around the country aimed at stopping what is known as the Health and Human Services, or HHS, mandate -- the requirement that qualifying insurers and self-ensuring employers pay for sterilizations, abortifacient drugs and contraception, or else pay a fine.
June 21, 2012
"You knew it was bad, but it's worse than you think. ObamaCare includes plans that fund elective abortions, charges people for life-saving drugs while making life-ending drugs free, and seriously fines those who do not comply..."
June 6, 2012
ObamaCare is not content with forcing coverage of abortion-inducing drugs against people's consciences. Now the administration has made its attack on conscience even worse: by forcing abortion-drug coverage onto children against their parents' objection.
May 23, 2012
Greg Baylor, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund, says the outcry against the mandate is justifiable and understandable. "They're basically saying, Hey, if you're a religious organization that's out there in the world, serving the world, hiring people who don't necessarily share your religious commitments, you're not entitled to freedom of conscience."