Neha Patil (Editor)

Alliance Defending Freedom

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Christian advocacy

25 March 1993

4.285 million USD

43.6 million USD

Legal status

Chapman Cox


For Faith, For Justice

Alliance Defending Freedom wwwadfmediaorgfilesAllianceLogojpg

March 25, 1993; 23 years ago (1993-03-25)

Non-profit organization

Alan Sears, James Dobson, Larry Burkett, D. James Kennedy, Bill Bright

Family Research Council, American Center for Law & Ju, Focus on the Family, American Family Association, Freedom From Religion


Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF, formerly Alliance Defense Fund) is a 501(c)(3) American conservative Christian nonprofit organization with the stated goal of advocating, training, and funding on the three key issues of "religious freedom, sanctity of life, and marriage and family", The Southern Poverty Law Center has described the organization as "virulently anti-gay" and an anti-LGBT hate group.


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. 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.

ADF states that it has "had various roles of significance" in thirty-eight wins before the United States Supreme Court, including such cases as Rosenberger v. University of Virginia, Schenck v. Pro-Choice Network of Western New York, and Boy Scouts of America v. Dale. ADF represented a litigant in Perry v. Schwarzenegger in which the Supreme Court ruling in effect allowed same-sex marriage to proceed in California.

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.


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 President, CEO, and General Counsel is Alan Sears. Sears was previously a Justice Department official under the administration of President Ronald Reagan, and has co-authored two books with Craig Osten: The Homosexual Agenda: Exposing the Principal Threat to Religious Freedom Today and The ACLU vs. America: Exposing the Agenda to Redefine Moral Values.

The ADF is based in Scottsdale, Arizona. It has six branch offices, located in Sacramento, California; Lawrenceville, Georgia; Shreveport, Louisiana; Memphis, Tennessee; Washington, D.C., and Olathe, Kansas. In addition, the ADF Center for Academic Freedom is located in Nashville, Tennessee.

Major donors for the organization include the Covenant Foundation, the Bolthouse Foundation and the Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation, whose vice president is Academi (formerly Blackwater Worldwide) founder Erik Prince.


The ADF reported a total revenue of $61.9 million for the year ending June 30, 2015, and net assets of $39.9 million. This compares with a budget of $9,000,000 in 1999.

Some of its funds come from the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation, the Bradley Foundation, the Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation, the Covenant Foundation and the Bolthouse Fund, which affirms "that man was created by a direct act of God in His image, not from previously existing creatures, and that all of mankind sinned in Adam and Eve, the historical parents of the entire human race".

M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, created by Tektronix co-founder Melvin Jack Murdock, donated $375,000 to ADF in February 2016. The trust has given nearly $1 million to ADF in the past nine years.

Programs and initiatives

ADF's National Litigation Academy and Blackstone Legal Fellowship are aimed at training lawyers to pursue cases from a socially conservative perspective based on Christian ideals.

The National Litigation Academy brings together law school professionals, litigators, and constitutional lawyers for courses of study. Volunteer and allied attorneys are offered training in areas of law that relate to religious freedom, same-sex marriage, and pro-life issues. The training is provided at no charge, but each attorney pledges to spend 450 hours of pro bono time furthering ADF's mission by representing Christian organizations and individuals. ADF states that more than 1,200 attorneys have attended the National Litigation Academy with pro-bono service totaling more than $82 million to date.

The Blackstone Legal Fellowship is a nine-week summer internship program designed for Christian law students. Interns work closely with legal professionals and advocate a Conservative Christian worldview. According to ADF, the goal of the Blackstone Legal Fellowship is "to train a new generation of lawyers who will rise to positions of influence and leadership as legal scholars, litigators, judges, and perhaps even Supreme Court justices, and who will work to ensure that justice is carried out in America's courtrooms." More specifically, ADF states that the Blackstone Legal Fellowship purposes to "[e]quip Christian law students to engage the legal culture with biblical and natural law principles," to "[g]ive law students confidence that the foundation of law on which our country was established is rationally superior to any competing legal philosophy," and to "[p]rofoundly influence Christian law students to take their training and knowledge into positions of influence where they can bring about needed change in America's legal system."

The Center for Academic Freedom was established in 2006 and works to protect the right of students and teachers to freely express their religious beliefs.

Day of Truth

The Alliance Defense Fund states that it established the Day of Truth "to counter the promotion of the homosexual agenda and express an opposing viewpoint from a Christian perspective." 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.

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.

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, who has prepared the resources for the event. On October 6, Exodus International stated they will no longer be supporting or leading the Day of Truth.

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

The Alliance Defense Fund, 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.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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. The lawsuit was settled without money changing hands and without changes in school policies.
  • 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. 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."
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • References

    Alliance Defending Freedom Wikipedia

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