Alliance Defending Freedom

SOURCE:  Wikipedia, 2020-05-24

  • Name: Alliance Defending Freedom
  • Abbreviation: ADF
  • Formerly called: Alliance Defense Fund
  • Motto: For Faith, For Justice
  • Formation: March 25, 1993; 27 years ago
  • Type: Non-profit organization
  • Legal status: 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization [not required to disclose donors]
  • Headquarters: Scottsdale, Arizona
  • Associations: neoconservative Christian right
  • Chairman: Terry Schlossberg
  • President, CEO: Michael Farris
  • Revenue (2017): $55,629,426
  • Expenses (2017): $50,304,647
  • Endowment (2013): $4,285,445
  • Employees (2017): 289
  • Volunteers (2017): 695
  • Website
  • ONTOLOGIES: Society - Charitable giving & Practices - Politics - Countries - United States - Organizations - Nonprofit organizations - 501(c)(3) organizations - Named - Alliance Defending Freedom
    Society - Politics - Political ideologies - Conservatism - Social conservatism - United States

  • Alliance Defending Freedom is a member of the ultra secretive and powerful Council for National Policy.

  • Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF, formerly Alliance Defense Fund) is an American conservative Christian nonprofit organization with the stated goal of advocating, training, and funding on the issues of "religious freedom, sanctity of life, and marriage and family." ADF is headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona. It also has four branch offices located in Folsom, California; Washington, D.C.; Lawrenceville, Georgia; and New York.

    Because of its budget, caseload, and network of allied attorneys, ADF is seen as the most organized and influential Christian legal interest group in the country. ADF has argued nine cases before the Supreme Court and won all of them.

    The Southern Poverty Law Center designates the ADF as an anti-LGBTQ hate group. The SPLC has also described the ADF as a "prominent Christian legal powerhouse," and criticized it for providing "advice to anti-gay bigots in Belize."


    In the early 1990s, people from various denominations, primarily evangelical Christians, began to notice what they saw as progressive values supplanting traditional Judeo-Christian values in American society and threats to religious liberty. They viewed the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) as a major contributing factor to the erosion of values. In response ADF was incorporated in 1993 by Bill Bright (founder, Campus Crusade for Christ), Larry Burkett (founder, Crown Financial Ministries), James Dobson (founder, Focus on the Family), D. James Kennedy (founder, Coral Ridge Ministries), Marlin Maddoux (president, International Christian Media), and William Pew.

    ADF's first president was ADF co-founder Alan Sears, who also served as CEO and Chief Counsel. Sears was the staff executive director of the Attorney General's Commission on Pornography, popularly known as the Meese Commission.

    In 2000 Alliance Defending Freedom founded the Blackstone Legal Fellowship, with 24 participants. The nine week intense summer internship program trains law students from a traditionalist perspective.

    The Christmas Project was launched in 2003. The annual initiative was organized in an effort to resist what the organization called the "censorship of Christmas." In its press release ADF singled out the American Civil Liberties Union as the chief target of the campaign. By 2004, the organization had contacted 3,600 school districts to inform them that they were not required by the Constitution to have holiday celebrations inclusive of all religions.

    In 2005 the first Day of Truth (now called "Day of Dialogue") was held with over 1,100 students in 350 schools participating. The annual event was created as a response to what the ADF believed was a homosexual agenda.

    In 2008, ADF created the Pulpit Freedom Sunday. The national event encourages pastors to include political endorsements in their sermons, in defiance of Internal Revenue Service regulations.

    On July 9, 2012, the Alliance Defense Fund changed its name to Alliance Defending Freedom. The name change was intended to reflect the organization's shift in focus from funding allied attorneys to litigating cases.

    By 2014, ADF had an annual budget of $40 million and more than 40 staff attorneys, and had "emerged as the largest legal force of the religious right, arguing hundreds of pro bono cases across the country." Russell Rolfe, producer of the 2014 film "God's Not Dead," stated that the inspiration for the film came from Alan Sears who shared a story about a First Amendment case where a college coed's faith is challenged. Over 1,800 ministers enroll in the annual Pulpit Freedom Sunday.

    In 2014, ADF achieved a legal victory in a case challenging the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. In Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., the Court ruled that the birth control mandate in employee funded health plans was unconstitutional.

    In 2016 Tony Abbott, the former Prime Minister of Australia and current Member of Parliament, gave an address to ADF regarding marriage. Abbott was an outspoken opponent of the legalization of same-sex marriage in Australia.

    In January 2017, Michael Farris became the new CEO of ADF. Farris lobbied Congress for the passage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, and is the founder of Patrick Henry College.

    In 2016, the Southern Poverty Law Center listed the organization as an anti-LGBTQ hate group. The group's designation "was a judgment call that went all the way up to top leadership at the SPLC." The ADF has opposed its inclusion on the SPLC's list, with senior counsel Jeremy Tedesco describing it as "a stranglehold on conservative and religious groups that is just hovering over us and that can continue to constrict and limit our ability to simply voice our opinion."

    According to the SPLC, the ADF was included on the list due to the group's filing of an amicus brief in the 2003 U.S. Supreme Court case Lawrence v. Texas, in which the ADF expressed support for upholding the state's right to decide whether "same-sex sodomy is a distinct public health problem." The SPLC has described the ADF as "virulently anti-gay." The SPLC describes the group's mission as "making life as difficult as possible for LGBT communities in the U.S. and internationally." ADF president Michael Farris called the SPLC's designation a "troubling smear" and "slander."

    ADF's international activities have included supporting anti-LGBT groups fighting the decriminalization of sodomy in Jamaica and support for a Belize law which would have made sodomy a criminal offense with a possible ten year jail term. As of 2019 it had tripled its spending in the European Union to £1.5 million.

    In July 2017, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions attended ADF's Summit on Religious Liberty. Praising the group, Sessions said, "While your clients vary from pastors to nuns to geologists, all of us benefit from your good work." LGBTQ rights groups criticized Sessions for his participation at the event. Dominic Holden wrote in BuzzFeed News that ADF's growing influence within the federal government can be attributed to Sessions' support.


    ADF supports the inclusion of invocations at public meetings and the use of religious displays (such as crosses and other religious monuments) on public lands and in public buildings. ADF opposes abortion, and believes that healthcare workers have a right to decline participation in the performance of abortions and other practices an individual health worker finds morally objectionable. ADF opposes same-sex marriage and civil unions, as well as adoption by same-sex couples based on their belief that children are best raised by a married mother and father. ADF believes parents should be able to opt their children out of sex education in schools that run counter to a family's religious beliefs.

    The international branch, ADF International, argued for European countries to be allowed to prohibit changing genders on government-issued identification documents unless the individual had gone "through a very specific medical setting, leading to genital surgery and sterilization."


    ADF is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization. It had a budget of $9 million in 1999. ADF reported a total revenue of $61.9 million for the year ending June 30, 2015, and net assets of $39.9 million.

    Donors include the Covenant Foundation, the Bolthouse Foundation, the Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation, the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation, and the Bradley Foundation.

    The M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, one of largest charities in the Pacific Northwest, donated nearly $1 million to ADF from 2007 to 2016.

    Blackstone Legal Fellowship

    In 2000 the Alliance Defending Freedom established the Blackstone Legal Fellowship for the purpose of preparing Christian law students for professional legal careers. In an interview, ADF co-founder Alan Sears said in 2000 Blackstone Legal Fellowship was created in response to his observation, "There's got to be a better way for law students in America and for young lawyers than we currently have." Blackstone Legal Fellowship is a highly competitive, nine week intensive summer legal training program that trains law students from a traditionalist perspective. The program is made up of interns, called Fellows, from a diverse selection of law schools as well as elite institutions such as Harvard and Yale. The program is named for Sir William Blackstone, the famed eighteenth century English legal scholar and jurist who wrote about the supremacy of God's law, which had a profound impact on the Founding Fathers of the United States.

    The first class of the Blackstone Legal Fellowship comprised 24 interns. Since its inception Blackstone Legal Fellowship has trained more than 1,900 Christian law students.

    In 2012, Sears was asked about the major achievements of ADF. He said "among the things I am most thankful for are our Blackstone Legal Fellowship graduates."

    Notable faculty at Blackstone Legal Fellowship have included U. S. Court of Appeals Judge Amy Coney Barrett, who from 2011 to 2016 spoke on constitutional law.

    In 2017 President Donald Trump's nominee to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, Amy Coney Barrett, was criticized by Senator Al Franken for teaching constitutional law at Blackstone Legal Fellowship. In her Senate committee hearing he referred to ADF as a "hate group." Barrett responded that the hate group label is "controversial." Barrett was confirmed to the court by a 55-43 vote in the Senate.

    The following people currently or formerly affiliated with ADF are associated with Blackstone Legal Fellowship:

    Day of Dialogue

    In 2005, the Alliance Defending Freedom established the Day of Truth as a response to the Day of Silence, which is organized by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network.

    ADF claims that students who have spoken against LGBTQ rights have been censored under campus hate-speech rules. ADF initiated the event in response to the suspension of Chase Harper, a high school student. Harper wore a T-shirt that read "Be Ashamed" and "Our School Embraced What God Has Condemned", and on the back read, "Homosexuality is Shameful" and "Romans 1:27." ADF filed an unsuccessful federal lawsuit against school officials on behalf of Harper, claiming his religious freedoms were violated. The case was appealed to the Supreme Court.

    ADF announced in 2009 that it had passed on its leadership role in the Day of Truth to an ex-gay organization, Exodus International. In 2010, Exodus International stated they would no longer support the Day of Truth event.

    On November 11, 2010, evangelical Christian organization Focus on the Family announced it had acquired the Day of Truth event and was renaming it the Day of Dialogue.

    Pulpit Freedom Sunday

    Pulpit Freedom Sunday is an initiative to challenge the Johnson Amendment, which prohibits non-profit organizations, including churches, from endorsing political candidates. According to the New York Times, ADF's campaign is "perhaps its most aggressive effort." In 2008, the year the program was launched, 35 churches participated. In an act of civil disobedience pastors include endorsements for political candidates in their sermons in defiance of Internal Revenue Service regulations and in hopes of triggering a court challenge based on First Amendment grounds. The inaugural 2008 event included Minnesota reverend Gus Booth who encouraged his congregation to vote for John McCain rather than Barack Obama. By 2014 participation in the event had grown to over 1,800 pastors. The IRS indicated that it would increase enforcement of the Johnson Amendment.

    Notable cases

    The ADF has been involved in several landmark United States Supreme Court cases, including Rosenberger v. University of Virginia, Good News Club v. Milford Central School and Town of Greece v. Galloway. Good News Club and Town of Greece established precedents relating to Free Speech and the Establishment Clauses of the First Amendment respectively. Among its most notable legal battles was a 2014 case challenging the Affordable Care Act. In Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., the Court ruled that the birth control mandate in employee-funded health plans when the company is "closely-held" was unconstitutional. The case set a precedent for evaluating legal questions relating to religious liberty.


    The following people are currently or formerly affiliated with ADF:

    Homophobia  |  Transphobia

  • Source: The word missing from the vast majority of anti-trans legislation? Transgender

  • Additional Reading

  • [, 2021-09-29] Matt Walsh Smears School Board Members as 'Predators' and 'Child Abusers' Over Trans-Inclusive PolicyAlliance Defending Freedom, a massive religious-right legal group, streamed live video of a protest rally outside a Loudoun County school board meeting in northern Virginia Tuesday night, at which local parents and teachers opposing the school district's transgender-inclusive policy were joined by representatives from the right-wing political groups FreedomWorks and Heritage Action, along with right-wing author and podcaster Matt Walsh. National right-wing groups and activists have made the Loudoun County school district a target of their hostility over a transgender-inclusive policy that requires, among other things, teachers to address trans students using their preferred pronouns. Alliance Defending Freedom is representing teachers who call the policy a violation of their religious freedom and freedom of speech. ...

  • [2020-06-05] Betsy DeVos Is Complicit in Evangelical Right's Assault on Trans Athletes.  Betsy DeVos is a major contributor to the Alliance Defending Freedom -- a 501(c) organization that does not need to disclose identities of donors. As U.S. Secretary of Education, this presents (in addition to the moral depravity of funding and supporting anti-LGBTQ+ agendae) an obvious conflict-of-interest.

  • [2020-05-23] Secretive Right-Wing Nonprofit Plays Role in COVID-19 Organizing

  • See also [Democracy Forward's lawsuit against ADF filed 2018-04-24]: Uncovering the Solicitor General [Noel Francisco]'s ties to a hate group.

  • ADF has described its mission as "equipping attorneys to battle the homosexual agenda."

  • See also [Noel Francisco | 2020-06-13] : White House's top lawyer at the Supreme Court to resign

  • Return to