When a man asks a woman to marry him, he asks her to share his name. When he joins a club, a team, or a church, he links his own identity to the group he is joining. Understandably, he wants the name to stand for something clear and meaningful.
For some time, many within our organization have been concerned that our name, Alliance Defense Fund, does not sufficiently, accurately convey who we are and what we do. It was the name chosen by our Founders, for good reasons at the time. Back then, we were not engaged in any direct litigation ourselves – we provided legal and financial resources for other Christian attorneys. So, the term “fund” was very appropriate.
Nowadays, though, we do our own litigating. We actively defend clients and engage the opposition. We are moving beyond our country’s borders, seeking out means and opportunities to protect the freedom of people of faith all over the world.
“Alliance Defense Fund” did not really capture any of this very well. So, after thorough research, careful planning, and intense preparation, we are making a transition. Beginning this month, the new name of Alliance Defense Fund is “Alliance Defending Freedom.”
We want this new name to communicate two crucial themes: stewardship and reputation.
Our old name caused confusion for almost everyone – allies, Allied Ministry Friends, clients, the media. This is poor stewardship. The nature of the work we do requires us to secure resources and assure clients and allies by conveying quickly and clearly who we are, what we do, and why it matters. Anything that impedes this understanding is a hindrance to our ministry. It damages the efficiency, and ultimately, the impact of what we do, thereby, making it unworthy of the God who has given us our mission.
Our new name changes this. Alliance Defending Freedom tells people what is important to us: building alliances. It tells people what we do: we defend. It tells people what our goal is: freedom. It’s simple. It’s straightforward. It resonates. This is good stewardship.
Our reputation is what people think of when they hear our name. We do not want them thinking of us as a “fund.” We want them to associate us with freedom. We want them to know that we are passionate about defending freedom…that defending it is the mission of our lives…that we defend it “for faith” and “for justice.” This is why we have built our new logo around these two phrases – to affirm our purpose of opening doors for the Gospel, and to ensure equality before the law for people of faith.
We hope this new name will resonate with you because we value deeply all of those who stand with us, work with us, and fight with us in the cause of religious freedom.
After all, this is what our ministry has always been: an alliance defending freedom. With this rebranding, we are just making it official.
When it comes to college basketball, Lexington, Kentucky is “Title Town USA.” With its precision offense and shot-blocking defense, the home-town University of Kentucky Wildcats won another NCAA national championship a few weeks ago.
But away from the basketball court, some folks in Lexington refuse to acknowledge that religious freedom ranks No. 1 in the Bill of Rights.
Some folks like the local Gay & Lesbian Services Organization (GLSO). If they get their way, religious freedom will be dealt a huge defeat like those served on so many of the Wildcats’ basketball opponents.
Alleging “discrimination,” GLSO is demanding the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission slap a technical foul on the Christian-owned business Hands On Originals.
Blaine Adamson, co-owner of Hands On Originals shirt shop, declined GLSO’s request to print t-shirts for a “pride” parade celebrating homosexual behavior. The co-owners of Hands On Originals sincerely believe in the inspired Word of God, and they strive to live by its commands in their personal and public lives. They disagree with the message served by these “pride” parades, and they exercised their right to be obedient to God.
In retaliation, GLSO is urging large customers of Hands On Originals – including the University of Kentucky – to boycott the shirt shop, which could be forced to lay off employees if business revenue drops substantially.
Blaine Adamson joins a growing list of Christian business owners facing legal attack in the clash between the free exercise of religion – the first liberty affirmed in the U.S. Constitution – and the homosexual legal agenda. The Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) and our allies have successfully defended many of them, but other costly legal battles rage on. In New Mexico, Elaine Huguenin awaits appeal of a similar “discrimination” charge – for declining to photograph a same-sex “commitment ceremony.” If convicted, she may have to close her photography business.
This issue brings two vitally important questions into play for believers. How should the Body of Christ respond to these predatory assaults on religious liberty? And, are pastors free to scripturally equip their congregations on how to respond to attacks on religious freedom?
It’s crucial for Christians to understand the serious legal risks they face in the public square as they strive to uphold their biblical beliefs. Pastors also need to understand the attacks against their congregants and how to lead in a time of hostility toward religious freedom.
Pastors can take an important step in leadership by participating in the ADF Pulpit Freedom Sunday October 7th when hundreds of pastors will preach the full counsel of scripture on the issue of candidates and the election to equip their congregations and to counter a challenge to their own free speech.
They do so knowing Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU) will bluster and complain. This radical group is threatening pastors with intimidating letters warning them to refrain from speaking on some of the moral issues which will help their congregations.
This bullying has been happening since Congress hastily approved the “Johnson Amendment” in 1954. The act modified the Internal Revenue Service tax code and overturned 178 years of free speech for America’s pastors, who now risk loss of tax exemptions for applying scripture or church teaching to the issue of candidates and elections.
For instance, if Blaine Adamson’s pastor urges the congregation to vote for political candidates who will uphold religious liberty, AU will file a “complaint” (really just a tattle-tale letter) with the Internal Revenue Service demanding the church lose its tax exemption.
The Alliance Defense Fund and our allies are protecting churches willing to courageously challenge this unjust tax law. While we’re not encouraging pastors to become political commentators, we are urging them to determine the content of sermons on their own. For too long, pastors self-censored their messages and essentially enabled the IRS to determine what can and can’t be said in the pulpits of America.
Pulpit Freedom Sunday pastors are forwarding recordings of their sermons to the IRS in hopes of drawing investigations. When IRS officials attempt to whistle a church for a flagrant foul, ADF will sue the IRS in an attempt to overturn the Johnson Amendment. Our goal is to regain complete freedom for America’s churches.
Please pray for victory in the battles for religious freedom in Lexington, in New Mexico, and across America. Pray for free speech for our pastors
In a recent post on the Americans United for Separation of Church and State’s website, Charles C. Haynes, a scholar in First Amendment issues, was quoted as saying “that the actual words ‘separation of church and state’ aren’t in the Constitution. But…the principle of separation clearly is.”
The post then tries to pit the Alliance Defense Fund against this view, saying that our own words show that we just don’t get it because we have said that “the ACLU and its allies have twisted history by using the so-called ‘separation of church and state’ as a legal platform to restrict your religious freedom.”
There is no conflict here. The Jeffersonian view of separation is one wherein the First Amendment shackles the government but keeps the Church free, as is clearly seen in Thomas Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists; the kind of separation leftist radicals embrace is one wherein the government is often used to silence public display of faith—a concept that the Founders never embraced or fostered. Likewise, the Church is not the entity that should be mounting a national defense or handing out speeding tickets.
This is what ADF means when it says the actual words “separation of church and state are not in the Constitution” and that secularist groups have “twisted history” by using their view of separation “to restrict your religious freedom.”
Nonetheless, we are pleased to see AU admit that the actual words “separation of church and state” aren’t in the Constitution. Yet sadly, it doesn’t appear that this admission has dampened their zeal for opposing things like Texas Governor Rick Perry’s calls to prayer or invocations at graduation ceremonies or the public display of the Ten Commandments.
In fact, AU coupled their announcement that the actual words “separation of church and state” aren’t in the Constitution with news that their latest polling numbers show that 67% of respondents agree that “the First Amendment requires a clear separation of church and state.” The problem is that they never quantify how many of those respondents agree with the Jeffersonian view of separation or the kind of separation leftist radicals embrace
Blog post by ADF Senior Vice President; Senior Counsel Jordan Lorence
Wednesday the Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony on a bill to repeal the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). ADF attorney Austin Nimocks testified against the bill and did an excellent job explaining the purpose of marriage in having children raised in the best social environment possible, one consisting of the child’s own biological mother and father who are united in marriage, and the importance of maintaining that common understanding of marriage in federal law. DOMA was signed into law by President Clinton in 1996 after being approved by huge majorities in both houses of Congress.
However, Democrats, including those on the Senate Judiciary Committee, now oppose DOMA, even though many of them voted for it in 1996 because they now support redefining marriage to include same sex couples. Although the Democrats have a 53-47 majority in the Senate, it is uncertain whether this repeal could overcome a filibuster in the Senate, and it would not be approved by the Republican majority in the House of Representatives. On Monday, President Obama said that he supported repeal of DOMA.
DOMA has two major parts. One part allows states to decline to recognize a marriage consisting of a same sex couple that was legally entered into in another state. The other major part of DOMA defines marriage only as one man and one woman for purposes of federal law.
I was able to assist Austin and watch the DOMA hearing at the Senate Judiciary Committee. I offer several observations:
1. The hearing hid the fact that the DOMA repeal could force all states to recognize same-sex marriages.
The Democrats who orchestrated this hearing cleverly directed its focus away from one of the major aspects of the DOMA repeal legislation that many would oppose – DOMA repeal would wipe out the provision that says states are free to decline to recognize same-sex marriages legally obtained in another state. We would see same-sex couples who have obtained a marriage license in one of the few states where it is legal, come to one of the many states with a state DOMA, and argue in court that the second state must recognize their same-sex marriage license, even though same sex marriage is not legally recognized in the second state.
This gets into a complicated area of constitutional law concerning “full faith and credit.” Generally, full faith and credit means this: If a court in State A enters a judgment, for example, that Mary owes Sam $2000, then Sam can go to State B to get a court order to take some of Mary’s assets there to pay the judgment. State B cannot refuse to honor the court decision from State A under the Constitution’s Full Faith and Credit Clause. But how does that apply to marriage, because a marriage license is not a court order? Generally, states do not have to recognize licenses obtained in another state. So, if someone in State A obtains a driver’s license, or a license to practice law, or a realtor’s license or a marriage license, State B has the discretion whether to recognize that license or not.
Whether the second state will recognize the license depends on what kind of license we are talking about. Most states generally recognize marriage licenses entered into in other states, so a man and a woman do not have to get married again when they move to another state. In contrast, states generally require people to get new driver’s licenses and licenses to practice law if they move to another state. Federal DOMA made it very clear that a state recognizing only marriages of one man and one woman would not have to recognize a marriage license from another state obtained by a same-sex couple. As a constitutional attorney, I am not exactly sure what the repeal of DOMA would mean for this area of law. States might very well retain the power to decline to recognize marriage licenses from another state, because of the states’ general authority under our Constitution’s system of federalism.
The Senate hearing on Wednesday focused on couples who lived in the five states that have legalized same-sex marriage (Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, Iowa, and on Sunday, New York, as well as the District of Columbia). They had legal marriages under state law, but were not recognized under federal law. However, the hearing barely mentioned that these couples could move, for example, to one of the 30 states with a state constitutional provision defining marriage only as one man and one woman, and challenging that provision. In effect, this may be an effort to force all states to recognize same-sex marriage. The hearing would have had a different tone if the Judiciary Committee had focused on this important effect of the proposed DOMA repeal.
2. Many others besides same-sex couples have problems obtaining federal benefits, and Congress can fix the problems without redefining marriage. The hearing consisted of a number of people who had obtained a marriage license in one of the states that has legalized same-sex marriage, and how they have had trouble obtaining federal benefits. For example, one of the same-sex partners dies, and the surviving partner cannot obtain Social Security benefits that a married couple consisting of a man and a woman could obtain.
But the hearing did not explain that others have the same problem. For example, a single person who is older and on Social Security benefits cannot pass his benefits to anyone else when he dies, but a surviving married person could obtain the benefits of his or her deceased spouse. Repealing federal DOMA would not help this single person pass his benefits to his niece or nephew. His money would simply go back to the U.S. Treasury. If a man is a federal worker and he cares for his sick grandmother, repeal of federal DOMA will not help him add her to his federal health insurance and he will not receive any Social Security money when she dies, because they are blood relatives who cannot marry. A woman who takes care of her adult brother with Down’s Syndrome must pay federal tax on the insurance coverage her employer extends to her brother.
Repeal of federal DOMA will do nothing to ease these unnecessary tax burden the brother and sister described above cannot legally marry anywhere. The benefits issues should be addressed separately and Congres should enact solutions that help everyone with the problem, not just same sex couples.
Also, several legal challenges to federal DOMA are in courts around the nation. The most advanced cases are in Massachusetts, pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston.