Alliance Defending Freedom

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Alliance Defending Freedom
Logo of Alliance Defending Freedom
Abbreviation ADF
Motto For Faith, For Justice
Formation March 25, 1993; 24 years ago (1993-03-25)[1]
Founders Bill Bright,
Larry Burkett,
James Dobson,
D. James Kennedy,
Marlin Maddoux,
and William Pew[2][3]
Type Non-profit organization
Legal status 501(c)(3)[4]
Purpose Christian advocacy
Headquarters Scottsdale, Arizona[5]
Chapman Cox[5]
Michael Farris[5][6]
Subsidiaries 15100 LLC,
ADF Foundation,
ADF Rabbi Trust,
15100 Solar Ltd.[5]
Revenue (2014)
Expenses (2014) $42,742,612[5]
Endowment $4,285,445[5]
Employees (2013)
Volunteers (2013)
Mission To advocate for religious freedom to uphold justice and preserve the right of people to freely live out their faith.[5]
Formerly called
Alliance Defense Fund

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."[7] The ADF is headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona and runs a "Center for Academic Freedom" in Nashville, Tennessee.[8] It also has six branch offices, located in Sacramento, California; Lawrenceville, Georgia; Shreveport, Louisiana; Memphis, Tennessee; Washington, D.C., and Olathe, Kansas.

The organization is deemed a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.


ADF was incorporated in 1993[1] 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.[2]

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

ADF's President, CEO, and General Counsel was Alan Sears, until 2017.[10] Sears was the staff executive director of the Attorney General's Commission on Pornography, popularly known as the Meese Commission. In January 2017, Michael Farris became the new CEO.


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.[11] The 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.[11]

ADF has been involved in various cases that have been heard by the United States Supreme Court, including Rosenberger v. University of Virginia,[12] Schenck v. Pro-Choice Network of Western New York,[citation needed] and Boy Scouts of America v. Dale.[13] ADF represented a litigant in Perry v. Schwarzenegger in which the Supreme Court ruling in effect allowed same-sex marriage to proceed in California. ADF was also involved in Lawrence v. Texas, the landmark gay rights case that overturned laws criminalizing same-sex sexual activity. ADF lawyers argued against overturning those laws, describing gay men as diseased and as public health risks.[14]

The international branch, ADF International, argued for European countries to be allowed to prohibit changing genders on government-issued identification documents unless the individual has been sterilized.[15]


The Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled the organization an anti-LGBT hate group[16] and described it as "virulently anti-gay".[17] The SPLC's describes the group's mission as "making life as difficult as possible for LGBT communities in the U.S. and internationally"; the group and its representatives have repeatedly engaged in defamation of and scare tactics against LGBT communities and persons in the USA, says NBC. [18]

In July 2017 US Attorney General Jeff Sessions was criticised for speaking at a closed ADF meeting. A representative of the Human Rights Campaign was quoted as saying that ""The attorney general has every right to speak to a group like Alliance Defending Freedom. "What troubles us is that his remarks are being kept hidden from the public at the same time he has been tasked by the President with issuing religious discrimination policies that ADF has long promoted." CNN requested a transcript but was refused.[19] A spokesperson for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, responding to the same issue, stated that “ADF is the most extreme anti-gay legal organization—so extreme that it does not concede even that gay or transgender people should be permitted to exist as such.”[20] The speech was released at The Federalist (website) on July 13, 2017.[21][22]


ADF is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization.[4] It had a budget of $9 million in 1999.[23]:84 ADF reported a total revenue of $61.9 million for the year ending June 30, 2015, and net assets of $39.9 million.[24]

Donors include the Covenant Foundation, the Bolthouse Foundation,[25] the Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation,[26][23]:84, 255 the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation, the Bradley Foundation,[27][28] The M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, one of largest charities in the Pacific Northwest, donated nearly $1 million to ADF from 2007 to 2016.[29]

Day of Truth[edit]

The Alliance Defending Freedom states that it established the Day of Truth[30] "to counter the promotion of the homosexual agenda and express an opposing viewpoint from a Christian perspective."[31] The Day of Truth is held annually following the Day of Silence, which is organized by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network.

The ADF claims that students who have attempted to speak against same-sex relationships and behavior have been censored or, in some cases, punished for their actions under campus hate-speech rules, such as Chase Harper, a high school student whose activism sparked the first Day of Truth. Harper was suspended for wearing 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." The 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.[32][33][34]

The Day of Truth was first organized in 2005. According to ADF, over 1,100 students in 350 schools participated in the first Day of Truth.[35]

ADF announced that beginning in 2009, it had passed on its leadership role in the Day of Truth to an ex-gay organization, Exodus International,[36] who has prepared the resources for the event.[37] On October 6, Exodus International stated they will no longer be supporting or leading the Day of Truth.[38]

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

Notable cases[edit]

The Alliance Defending Freedom, working with other socially conservative organizations and Christian groups, as well as allied litigators, litigates cases involving religious freedom, abortion issues, and same-sex marriage.[39]

  • Rosenberger v. University of Virginia (1995). ADF provided funding to defend a student newspaper which was denied university funding due to its religious nature. The case was litigated all the way to the Supreme Court.[40]
  • Good News Club v. Milford Central School (2001). The ADF assisted in this case in which the Supreme Court ruled that religious clubs must be afforded equal access to school facilities.[41]
  • Williams v. Vidmar (2004). In November 2004, the ADF filed a lawsuit on behalf of a Cupertino, California elementary school teacher against his school principal and school board members.[42] The lawsuit was settled without money changing hands and without changes in school policies.[43]
  • Perry v. Schwarzenegger. ADF represented Proposition 8 proponents in the Federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the proposition, which limited marriage in California to one man and one woman.[44] Their participation generated some criticism. The religious rights law firm Liberty Counsel, which has litigated opposition to same-sex marriage in California since 2004, criticized Alliance Defense Fund's handling of the case. "ADF presented only two witnesses at trial, following the 15 witnesses presented by those who challenged Proposition 8. Even Judge Walker commented that he was concerned by the lack of evidence presented by ADF on behalf of Prop 8."[45]
  • The ADF defended Elane Photography in its appeal of being found in violation of the New Mexico Human Rights Act for refusing to photograph a 2006 civil commitment ceremony. In August 2013 the New Mexico Supreme Court found in favor of Willock and that the photographer was in violation of the act.[46][47][48]
  • The ADF served as co-counsel defending Sally Howe Smith, Court Clerk for Tulsa County (Oklahoma), whose denial of a marriage license to a same-sex couple was challenged in Bishop v. Oklahoma. Smith lost in U.S. District Court in January 2014.[49]
  • The ADF represented Dr. Mike Adams in a lawsuit against University of North Carolina Wilmington. A first amendment victory in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit[50] opened the door to a civil trial in which Adams was also victorious. The case concerned denial of promotion to full professor due to constitutionally-protected speech.[51][52][53]
  • In Bostic v. Rainey, the ADF represented Ms. Michele McQuigg, defendant-intervenor in her official capacity as Prince William County Clerk of Circuit Court; the defendants lost in US District Court in February 2014.[54]
  • The ADF defended Virginia's laws against a challenge to the prohibition on same sex marriage, but lost an appeal in the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday, July 28, 2014; they have stated that they plan to appeal the ruling.[55]
  • Bronx Household of Faith v. Board of Education of the City of New York (2012). The ADF lost this case challenging New York City's prohibition on holding worship services in the City's public schools, and the Supreme Court declined to hear the case three separate times.[56]
  • Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission and Arlene's Flowers lawsuit (2016-2017) Both lawsuits, pitting LGBT rights against the First Amendment Freedom of Expression, were originaly lost and have been appealed to the Supreme court. The ADF represents the defendants.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Alliance Defending Freedom". Business Entity Details. State Corporation Commission. Commonwealth of Virginia. Retrieved September 9, 2016.
  2. ^ a b [1], With Gratitude, for the Giants Whose Shoulders ADF Stands On
  3. ^ History, Alliance Defense Fund
  4. ^ a b "Alliance Defending Freedom". Exempt Organization Select Check. Internal Revenue Service. Retrieved September 9, 2016.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Form 990: Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax". Alliance Defending Freedom. Guidestar. June 30, 2014.
  6. ^ "ADF Names New CEO". Alliance Defending Freedom. Retrieved 11 January 2017. 
  7. ^ "Who We Are". ADF. Retrieved 27 January 2017. 
  8. ^ ADF Center for Academic Freedom - Faith has a Voice
  9. ^ "Alliance Defense Fund now Alliance Defending Freedom" (Press release). Alliance Defending Freedom. 2012-07-09. 
  10. ^ "ADF Names New CEO - Alliance Defending Freedom". Retrieved 2017-01-11. 
  11. ^ a b Gizzi, John (2009). "Alliance Defense Fund Promotes Religious Freedom". Human Events. 65 (28): 21. 
  12. ^ McFeely, Tom (January 18, 2012). "Alliance Defense Fund's Chief Convert" [interview with Alan Sears]. National Catholic Register. Retrieved 2017-10-14. Referring to Ron Rosenberger and his volunteer lawyer, Alan Sears explains that the ADF "raised money, and ... funded the petition for certiorari that asked the Supreme Court to hear their case" and that later it "funded the costs of the case and a number of amicus briefs."
  13. ^ Israel, Josh (May 1, 2014). "The 800-Pound Gorilla Of The Christian Right". ThinkProgress. Retrieved 2017-10-14. "In [other cases], including Hurley v. Irish-American Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Group of Boston ... and Boy Scouts of America v. Dale ..., ADF provided funding and/or organized moot court preparations for the attorneys handling the cases."
  14. ^ Peters, Jeremy W. (2017-11-22). "Fighting Gay Rights and Abortion With the First Amendment". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-11-23. 
  15. ^ Amend, Alex (2017-07-27). "Anti-LGBT Hate Group Alliance Defending Freedom Defended State-Enforced Sterilization for Transgender Europeans". SPLC. Retrieved 2017-11-26. 
  16. ^ "Attorney General Jeff Sessions to Address Anti-LGBT Hate Group in Closed-Door Event". Southern Poverty Law Center. July 11, 2017. 
  17. ^ See:
  18. ^ O'Hara, Mary Emily (April 8, 2017). "This Law Firm Is Linked to Anti-Transgender Bathroom Bills Across the Country". NBC. Retrieved 5 August 2017. 
  19. ^ Jarrett, Laura (13 July 2017). "AG Sessions under fire for closed-door speech to Alliance Defending Freedom". CNN. Retrieved 6 August 2017. 
  20. ^ Porter, Tom (26 July 2017). "Transgender Military Ban: The Rise Of Anti-Lgbt Hate Groups In Trump'S White House". Newsweek. Retrieved 6 August 2017. 
  21. ^ Freedom, Religious (2017-07-13). "Sessions: Faith Inspired MLK Jr. To March For Civil Rights". The Federalist. Retrieved 2017-08-11. 
  22. ^ CNN, Laura Jarrett. "Sessions reveals in closed-door speech new protections for religious liberty on the way". CNN. Retrieved 2017-08-11. 
  23. ^ a b Stewart, Katherine (2011). The Good News Club: The Christian Right's Stealth Assault on America's Children. PublicAffairs. ISBN 978-1586488437. 
  24. ^ "Alliancer Defending Freedom Comparative Assets". Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. Retrieved 28 September 2016. 
  25. ^ "The Bolthouse Foundation". The Bolthouse Foundation. 2013-04-08. Retrieved 2013-09-24. 
  26. ^ Posner, Sarah. "The Legal Muscle Leading the Fight to End the Separation of Church and State Archived 2007-08-31 at the Wayback Machine." April 1, 2007, Washington Spectator Online
  27. ^ "Affirmation of Faith". Bolthouse Foundation. Retrieved 13 August 2015. 
  28. ^ Curtis, Polly; Quinn, Ben (2 September 2011). "Abortion debate: Dorries campaign urged to reveal how it is funded". BBC. Retrieved 13 August 2015. 
  29. ^ "A Vancouver Charity is Funding a Group Backing North Carolina's Anti-Transgender "Bathroom Bill"". Willamette Week. Archived from the original on 13 April 2016. Retrieved 11 April 2016. 
  30. ^ Day of Truth Participant Manual Web site
  31. ^ "Day of Dialogue | Join the Dialogue". 2012-02-27. Archived from the original on 2009-04-11. Retrieved 2013-09-24. 
  32. ^ "'Day of Truth' provides response to homosexual-themed day". Baptist Press. 2005-03-29. Archived from the original on 2013-09-27. Retrieved 2013-09-24. 
  33. ^ ADF attorneys seek justice for high school student silenced on Day of Truth, Alliance Defense Fund
  34. ^ "T-Shirt Wars". Box Turtle Bulletin. Retrieved 2013-09-24. 
  35. ^ Day of Truth participation statistics Archived 2008-06-26 at the Wayback Machine., Day of Truth website
  36. ^ "Hostile Questions". Day of Truth. 2012-02-27. Retrieved 2013-09-24. 
  37. ^ Homosexuality FAQ Sheet[permanent dead link], Day of Truth website
  38. ^ ": Day of Truth Support Pulled". Retrieved 2013-09-24. 
  39. ^ Issues, Alliance Defense Fund
  40. ^ Robert Booth Fowler. Religion and Politics in America: Faith, Culture, and Strategic Choices .. Retrieved 2013-09-24. 
  41. ^ Joel Stashenko (2009-02-03). "Conservative Christian Group Targets New York". Retrieved 2013-09-24. 
  42. ^ Boyer, Peter J. "A Reporter at Large: Jesus in the Classroom". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2013-09-24. 
  43. ^ California teacher, district settle religion lawsuit | First Amendment Center – news, commentary, analysis on free speech, press, religion, assembly, petition Archived 2014-02-22 at the Wayback Machine.
  44. ^ Farrell, Michael B. "Will California gay-marriage trial go to Supreme Court?" Christian Science Monitor 26 Jan. 2010: N.PAG. Academic Search Premier. Web. 7 Dec. 2011.
  45. ^ "California Judge Strikes Down Prop 8 Marriage Amendment". Liberty Counsel. 2010-08-04. Archived from the original on 9 August 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-05. 
  46. ^ Beard, Sterling (22 August 2013). "NM Supreme Court Finds Refusing to Photograph Gay Wedding Illegal". National Review Online. Retrieved 23 August 2013. 
  47. ^ Gentilviso, Chris (22 August 2013). "Elane Photography v. Vanessa Willock: Court Rules Against Photographer In Gay Bias Case". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 23 August 2013. 
  48. ^ Gershman, Jacob (22 August 2013). "Photographers Discriminated Against Gay Couple, Court Rules". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 23 August 2013. 
  49. ^ Geidner, Chris (January 14, 2014). "Oklahoma Ban On Same-Sex Marriages Is Unconstitutional, Federal Judge Rules". Buzz Feed. Retrieved January 15, 2014. 
  50. ^ Victory for academic freedom: 4th Circuit says professor's speeches, columns protected by First Amendment - Alliance Defending Freedom
  51. ^ Mike Adams Wins His Day in Court |
  52. ^ Mike Adams Lawsuit | Jury Verdict | UNC Wilmington
  53. ^ A Victory for Free Speech: Atheist Turned Christian Professor Wins Lawsuit Against University Archived 2014-03-22 at the Wayback Machine.
  54. ^ Dujardin, Peter (2014-02-14). "Reaction mixed to Virginia judge's ruling in same-sex marriage case". Daily Press. Retrieved 2014-02-17. 
  55. ^ Barnes, Robert; Portnoy, Jenna. "Appeals court upholds decision overturning Virginia's same-sex marriage ban". The Washington Post. Retrieved 29 July 2014. 
  56. ^ Sharon Otterman (2015-03-30). "Supreme Court Leaves Intact New York's Ban on Religious Services in Schools". Retrieved 2015-04-04. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Sears, Alan; Craig Osten (2005). The ACLU vs. America: Exposing the Agenda to Redefine Moral Values. B&H Books. ISBN 978-0-8054-4045-4. 
  • Sears, Alan; Craig Osten (2003). The Homosexual Agenda: Exposing the Principal Threat to Religious Freedom Today. B&H Books. ISBN 978-0-8054-2698-4. 

External links[edit]