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Annual Revenue: 
$34,702,917.00

The Alliance Defense Fund was founded by a collection of Religious Right TV and radio preachers in 1993. Originally conceived as a funding source for Religious Right legal groups, it eventually began sponsoring direct litigation. The ADF has becoming the nation's best-funded and most powerful Religious Right legal organization.

Founded in 1993 by a coalition of more than 30 Religious Right leaders, the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) has become the nation’s most prominent Religious Right legal group.

ADF founders, which included James Dobson, Donald Wildmon, the late Bill Bright and the late D. James Kennedy, originally conceived the organization as a funding pool that would finance legal cases brought by other groups that advanced the Religious Right’s view in the courts.

This strategy was employed for a few years, but the ADF now directly litigates cases itself and is headed by Alan Sears, formerly an anti-pornography crusader in the Edwin Meese-era Justice Department. The ADF is rigidly anti-gay and promotes its fundamentalist Christian vision in public schools and government institutions.

A flavor of Sears’ views can be found in the titles of the books he has co-authored: The Homosexual Agenda: Exposing the Principal Threat to Religious Freedom Today (2003) and The ACLU vs. America (2005). Sears is so concerned about the “homosexual agenda” that he once opined that the cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants might be part of a gay plot to indoctrinate children.

The ADF has been involved in several controversial cases. In 2005, the ADF sued a California public school after claiming that officials had ordered a teacher to stop using the Declaration of Independence in class. The claims were exposed as false, and the case quickly unraveled and was dropped – but not until the ADF had used the manufactured controversy to win media appearances and raise money.

Outside of court, the ADF has worked to lure evangelical churches into a vast right-wing political machine. It sponsors “Pulpit Freedom Sunday,” a ploy to openly defy federal tax law by encouraging pastors to endorse or oppose candidates from the pulpit. (While the ADF claims to be nonpartisan, all the project’s participating clergy in 2008 endorsed Republican John McCain or opposed Democrat Barack Obama.) The drive sparked a backlash from a group of Ohio clergy and tax law experts, who asked the IRS to investigate ADF lawyers on ethics grounds for urging churches to violate tax law. Americans United for Separation of Church and State filed a number of reports with the IRS detailing the egregious violations of the tax code that were committed by churches that joined the ADF effort.

Working with a network of pro bono attorneys nationwide, the ADF offers training for both attorneys and law students. The latter are “equipped with a distinctly Christian worldview in every area of life, particularly in the areas of law and public policy,” boasts the ADF Web site.

Sears Quote: “One by one, more and more bricks that make up the artificial ‘wall of separation’ between church and state are being removed, and Christians are once again being allowed to exercise their constitutional right to equal access to public facilities and funding.” (January 2004 e-mail to supporters)

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All the most recent posts from AU's Wall of Separation Blog & The Protect Thy Neighbor Blog

Fighting For Religious Freedom In Arizona With An Invocation

Yesterday, Arizona state Rep. Athena Salman stood before her colleagues and offered an invocation. At first, it appeared to be just like any other day in the statehouse, where the House always opens its session with a prayer. But then Rep. Mark Finchem stood up, alleged that the prayer violated House rules and asked to give a substitute prayer. Finchem’s objection: Salman is an atheist and her prayer did not speak to what he understood to be a higher power.

AU Backs The March For Science In Support Of Sound Science In Schools And Government

Saturday is the March for Science in Washington, D.C., and Americans United is proud to be an official partner.

We encourage our members, supporters and activists to take part in the March for Science this Saturday, or to join one of the satellite marches around the country. You can download and print an AU sign in support of sound science here.

Authentic Faith Doesn’t Need Taxpayer ‘Help’

When I was in seminary in Wilmore, Ky., I served as a part-time missions pastor at a United Methodist church in town. The church was going through some transitions and was trying to figure out a vision for the coming months and years. The church had long been focused on caring for its own members through discipleship and preaching, but the members wanted to be more connected with the community, particularly with those who had yet to venture inside our doors.

Why We’re Fighting Religion-Based Discrimination in West Virginia

Editor’s note: This post was written by Samantha Brookover and Amanda Abramovich of West Virginia, the two plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit Americans United and our allies filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia. On their wedding day in February 2016, the high-school sweethearts were harassed and disparaged by a Gilmer County clerk who cited her religion-based opposition to marriage for same-sex couples.

Neil Gorsuch’s Impact On Supreme Court Religious Freedom Cases Could Be Felt Immediately

Neil Gorsuch was sworn in this past Monday as the U.S. Supreme Court’s 113th justice, and his impact on pending religious freedom cases could be felt as early as next week.

On Monday, the court could announce whether it will grant review of the case Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. For months, court watchers have been waiting to see whether the high court will take this case involving a Colorado baker who cited his religious beliefs as justification to discriminate against a same-sex couple by refusing to bake them a wedding cake.

Missouri Governor’s Action To Permit Churches To Receive State Grants Should Spell The End of Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer

Less than a week before the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments in the church-state separation case Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens yesterday announced that churches are now eligible for the type of grant that was denied to Trinity.

Pages

Most Recent Blog Posts
All the most recent posts from AU's Wall of Separation Blog & The Protect Thy Neighbor Blog

Fighting For Religious Freedom In Arizona With An Invocation

Yesterday, Arizona state Rep. Athena Salman stood before her colleagues and offered an invocation. At first, it appeared to be just like any other day in the statehouse, where the House always opens its session with a prayer. But then Rep. Mark Finchem stood up, alleged that the prayer violated House rules and asked to give a substitute prayer. Finchem’s objection: Salman is an atheist and her prayer did not speak to what he understood to be a higher power.

AU Backs The March For Science In Support Of Sound Science In Schools And Government

Saturday is the March for Science in Washington, D.C., and Americans United is proud to be an official partner.

We encourage our members, supporters and activists to take part in the March for Science this Saturday, or to join one of the satellite marches around the country. You can download and print an AU sign in support of sound science here.

Authentic Faith Doesn’t Need Taxpayer ‘Help’

When I was in seminary in Wilmore, Ky., I served as a part-time missions pastor at a United Methodist church in town. The church was going through some transitions and was trying to figure out a vision for the coming months and years. The church had long been focused on caring for its own members through discipleship and preaching, but the members wanted to be more connected with the community, particularly with those who had yet to venture inside our doors.

Why We’re Fighting Religion-Based Discrimination in West Virginia

Editor’s note: This post was written by Samantha Brookover and Amanda Abramovich of West Virginia, the two plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit Americans United and our allies filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia. On their wedding day in February 2016, the high-school sweethearts were harassed and disparaged by a Gilmer County clerk who cited her religion-based opposition to marriage for same-sex couples.

Neil Gorsuch’s Impact On Supreme Court Religious Freedom Cases Could Be Felt Immediately

Neil Gorsuch was sworn in this past Monday as the U.S. Supreme Court’s 113th justice, and his impact on pending religious freedom cases could be felt as early as next week.

On Monday, the court could announce whether it will grant review of the case Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. For months, court watchers have been waiting to see whether the high court will take this case involving a Colorado baker who cited his religious beliefs as justification to discriminate against a same-sex couple by refusing to bake them a wedding cake.

Missouri Governor’s Action To Permit Churches To Receive State Grants Should Spell The End of Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer

Less than a week before the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments in the church-state separation case Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens yesterday announced that churches are now eligible for the type of grant that was denied to Trinity.

Pages

Most Recent Blog Posts
All the most recent posts from AU's Wall of Separation Blog & The Protect Thy Neighbor Blog

Fighting For Religious Freedom In Arizona With An Invocation

Yesterday, Arizona state Rep. Athena Salman stood before her colleagues and offered an invocation. At first, it appeared to be just like any other day in the statehouse, where the House always opens its session with a prayer. But then Rep. Mark Finchem stood up, alleged that the prayer violated House rules and asked to give a substitute prayer. Finchem’s objection: Salman is an atheist and her prayer did not speak to what he understood to be a higher power.

AU Backs The March For Science In Support Of Sound Science In Schools And Government

Saturday is the March for Science in Washington, D.C., and Americans United is proud to be an official partner.

We encourage our members, supporters and activists to take part in the March for Science this Saturday, or to join one of the satellite marches around the country. You can download and print an AU sign in support of sound science here.

Authentic Faith Doesn’t Need Taxpayer ‘Help’

When I was in seminary in Wilmore, Ky., I served as a part-time missions pastor at a United Methodist church in town. The church was going through some transitions and was trying to figure out a vision for the coming months and years. The church had long been focused on caring for its own members through discipleship and preaching, but the members wanted to be more connected with the community, particularly with those who had yet to venture inside our doors.

Why We’re Fighting Religion-Based Discrimination in West Virginia

Editor’s note: This post was written by Samantha Brookover and Amanda Abramovich of West Virginia, the two plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit Americans United and our allies filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia. On their wedding day in February 2016, the high-school sweethearts were harassed and disparaged by a Gilmer County clerk who cited her religion-based opposition to marriage for same-sex couples.

Neil Gorsuch’s Impact On Supreme Court Religious Freedom Cases Could Be Felt Immediately

Neil Gorsuch was sworn in this past Monday as the U.S. Supreme Court’s 113th justice, and his impact on pending religious freedom cases could be felt as early as next week.

On Monday, the court could announce whether it will grant review of the case Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. For months, court watchers have been waiting to see whether the high court will take this case involving a Colorado baker who cited his religious beliefs as justification to discriminate against a same-sex couple by refusing to bake them a wedding cake.

Missouri Governor’s Action To Permit Churches To Receive State Grants Should Spell The End of Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer

Less than a week before the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments in the church-state separation case Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens yesterday announced that churches are now eligible for the type of grant that was denied to Trinity.

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Church & State
March 2013 Church & State

God's Lawyers

With Millions In Assets And Hundreds Of Attorneys Helping Out, The Religious Right's Legal Machine Is Waging War On The Church-State Wall

March 2012 Church & State

ABC About-Face In Arkansas

State Officials Issue New Regs Barring Taxpayer-Funded Religion In Preschools, After AU Complaint

January 2012 Church & State

Religion And Campaign 2012

Religious Right Forces Are Seeking To Control Presidential Politics And Play A Dominant Role In This Year’s Elections

April 2011 Church & State

Counseling Clash

Religious Right Seeks Bible-Based Exemption From Public University Counseling Program’s Ethics Standards