Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is the world’s largest legal organization focused on protecting religious freedom, free speech, the sanctity of life, parental rights, and God’s design for marriage and family.
The group was launched in 1994 by leaders from the Christian community. While many of ADF’s clients are Christians, the organization does not limit its clients based on faith. ADF has also taken action to defend the rights of Jews, Muslims, and members of other religions.
ADF believes that religious freedom is for everyone. The organization strongly supports the principle that religious freedom must encompass people of all faiths as well as those of no faith. The group believes that the right to religious freedom is based on human dignity and the constitutional principle limiting the government’s power to control the lives of its citizens.
In the past, litigation typically sought to defend the religious freedom rights of minority religious beliefs. This has changed in recent years, as the government has taken administrative action and enacted legislation that contradicts core beliefs of the major Abrahamic faiths: Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.
ADF upholds the sanctity of marriage as the union of one man and one woman and that sex is binary and determined by biology. The organization has represented people fighting for the right to act according to their religious beliefs about marriage. In the case of Arlene’s Flowers, the group helped defend a floral artist who had been asked to create a custom floral arrangement for a same-sex wedding.
The principle at stake, in this case, was the idea that people have the right to decide what messages they speak and the type of art they create without the government making these decisions for them. Alliance Defending Freedom also secured a victory at the Supreme Court in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, which protects the right of all Americans to live and work in accordance with their faith without the government discriminating against them for doing so.
The same broad-based approach to defending the rights of Americans to enjoy religious freedom applies to ADF’s work defending free speech on campus. The group has represented students of different religious faiths and those with libertarian, conservative, pro-life, and pro-conservationist beliefs, among others. ADF strives to help create an environment where colleges and universities continue to be marketplaces of ideas that enable all students to speak about important issues. ADF’s Center for Academic Freedom has notched more than 400 victories in the fight to protect students’ free speech rights.
ADF also staunchly defends the sanctity of human life. The group strives to ensure that laws and courts protect women and their children while acting to safeguard life from conception until natural death. Furthermore, Alliance Defending Freedom litigates to protect parents’ right to safeguard their children’s health, welfare, and education and raise them according to their principles.
An example of this occurred in Virginia, where a school board instituted policies in accordance with Critical Race Theory that discriminated against students based on race and sought to indoctrinate children into this race-based ideology. ADF filed a lawsuit against this school board in support of a religiously and ethnically diverse group of parents and their children to prevent the school district from pursuing educational policies which violated the rights of both the parents and their children.
ADF International aims to defend Christians and other religious minorities from persecution and to work for free speech and religious freedom worldwide. ADF International has extended the group’s fight for freedom outside of the U.S., where the group has taken action to help stop genocide against Christians, Yazidis, Shia Muslims, and other religious minorities. They participate in legal advocacy with a number of partners around the world. The organization is accredited by the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the European Parliament and Commission, and the Organization of American States (OAS). ADF International has secured 26 victories in cases decided by the European Court of Human Rights.
In the United States, ADF enjoys a reputation as a highly successful litigant before the Supreme Court, having played a role in 72 victories before the country’s highest court. Since 2011, ADF has scored 14 victories representing parties in cases decided by the Supreme Court. These parties have included pastors, churches, religious groups, college students, family-owned businesses, pro-life pregnancy centers, and a town council.
Alliance Defending Freedom stands for the fundamental right to freedom of speech, religion, and conscience for every person, even people with different beliefs. The organization believes that the freedom to debate and discuss disagreements is fundamental to what makes Americans . . . Americans. As a result, ADF advocates every day in support of a society characterized by the free exchange of ideas and a respectful, tolerant approach towards those with different opinions.