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Annual Revenue: 
$34,702,917.00

The Alliance Defense Fund was founded by a collection of Religious Right TV and radio preachers in 1993. Originally conceived as a funding source for Religious Right legal groups, it eventually began sponsoring direct litigation. The ADF has becoming the nation's best-funded and most powerful Religious Right legal organization.

Founded in 1993 by a coalition of more than 30 Religious Right leaders, the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) has become the nation’s most prominent Religious Right legal group.

ADF founders, which included James Dobson, Donald Wildmon, the late Bill Bright and the late D. James Kennedy, originally conceived the organization as a funding pool that would finance legal cases brought by other groups that advanced the Religious Right’s view in the courts.

This strategy was employed for a few years, but the ADF now directly litigates cases itself and is headed by Alan Sears, formerly an anti-pornography crusader in the Edwin Meese-era Justice Department. The ADF is rigidly anti-gay and promotes its fundamentalist Christian vision in public schools and government institutions.

A flavor of Sears’ views can be found in the titles of the books he has co-authored: The Homosexual Agenda: Exposing the Principal Threat to Religious Freedom Today (2003) and The ACLU vs. America (2005). Sears is so concerned about the “homosexual agenda” that he once opined that the cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants might be part of a gay plot to indoctrinate children.

The ADF has been involved in several controversial cases. In 2005, the ADF sued a California public school after claiming that officials had ordered a teacher to stop using the Declaration of Independence in class. The claims were exposed as false, and the case quickly unraveled and was dropped – but not until the ADF had used the manufactured controversy to win media appearances and raise money.

Outside of court, the ADF has worked to lure evangelical churches into a vast right-wing political machine. It sponsors “Pulpit Freedom Sunday,” a ploy to openly defy federal tax law by encouraging pastors to endorse or oppose candidates from the pulpit. (While the ADF claims to be nonpartisan, all the project’s participating clergy in 2008 endorsed Republican John McCain or opposed Democrat Barack Obama.) The drive sparked a backlash from a group of Ohio clergy and tax law experts, who asked the IRS to investigate ADF lawyers on ethics grounds for urging churches to violate tax law. Americans United for Separation of Church and State filed a number of reports with the IRS detailing the egregious violations of the tax code that were committed by churches that joined the ADF effort.

Working with a network of pro bono attorneys nationwide, the ADF offers training for both attorneys and law students. The latter are “equipped with a distinctly Christian worldview in every area of life, particularly in the areas of law and public policy,” boasts the ADF Web site.

Sears Quote: “One by one, more and more bricks that make up the artificial ‘wall of separation’ between church and state are being removed, and Christians are once again being allowed to exercise their constitutional right to equal access to public facilities and funding.” (January 2004 e-mail to supporters)

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Most Recent Blog Posts
All the most recent posts from AU's Wall of Separation Blog & The Protect Thy Neighbor Blog

In Their Responses To Charlottesville, Trump And His Religious Right Allies Failed A Simple Moral Test

Religious Right groups have argued for a long time that a president has to do more than oversee the economy, direct international relations and run the Executive branch. He or she is also expected to set a moral example. During the presidencies of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, Religious Right groups frequently complained – unfairly, in the view of many Americans – that these two men had failed in that regard.

Donald Trump And Roy Moore Launch A New Raft Of Spurious, Anti-Muslim Claims

It’s been a week of pants-on-fire-level, anti-Muslim rhetoric: Days after a U.S. Senate candidate made ridiculous claims about Sharia law being implemented in the American heartland, President Donald J. Trump recirculated a widely discredited trope about brutal war-time treatment of Muslims.

Both claims earned the top “Pants on Fire” rating from the fact-checking website PolitiFact. And both claims only served to stoke anti-Muslim sentiment as the country is still reeling from the hate-filled events in Charlottesville, Va., last weekend.

For Some Reason, The Religious Right Is Looking For A Boost From The Eclipse

One of the most discouraging things about many fundamentalist Christians these days is their utter repudiation of science. It’s not that they can’t understand it – they choose not to try. Furthermore, they often heap disdain upon it.

More Than 4,000 Faith Leaders Send A Message To Congress: Protect The Johnson Amendment

Today more than 4,000 faith leaders from a diverse background of religious traditions and from all 50 states and the District of Columbia came together to support the Johnson Amendment. They signed a letter, which was delivered this morning, calling on members of Congress to resist any attempts to undermine current law.

If Trump Really Wants To Fight Xenophobic Extremists, He Can Start By Cleaning Up His Own House

President Donald J. Trump finally called racist violence “evil” yesterday – but only after he came under significant public pressure for refusing to condemn the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) and neo-Nazis after the violence that occurred over the weekend in Charlottesville, Va.

The Alt-Right And The Religious Right Stand In Opposition To America’s Tradition Of Religious Freedom

This weekend, extremely disturbing images emerged from Charlottesville, Va. When we have actual fascists marching in our streets, spreading hate, waving Nazi flags and screaming slogans of rage aimed our neighbors, friends, family members and coworkers, disengagement is not an option. Decent Americans are morally compelled to respond – not with violence but with pledges to support and protect the communities under attack and through reminders to our nation and the world that we are better than this.

There’s A Right Way To Teach About Religion In Public Schools – Be Inclusive

The Tennessee State Board of Education recently took a big step to making their state’s public education curriculum more inclusive. The state’s new social studies standards for the first time ever includes educating students about Sikhism, the world’s fifth largest religion and the only major faith not previously included in the curriculum.

Wyoming Judge Asks Supreme Court For Permission To Discriminate Against Same-Sex Couples

A Wyoming judge has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to consider whether she has the right to refuse to marry same-sex couples due to her religious beliefs.

Represented by the Religious Right legal group Alliance Defending Freedom, Judge Ruth Neely this month filed a petition asking the high court to review her case after the Wyoming Supreme Court publicly censured her earlier this year.

A Fundamentalist Christian Pastor Says It Would Be Biblical To Attack North Korea. That Should Concern Us.

Just in case you were in need of more reasons to have trouble sleeping at night, consider this: The North Koreans are saber-rattling over nuclear weapons, and one of the men advising President Donald J. Trump on the matter is a Christian fundamentalist pastor who believes the biblical book of Romans gives Trump the authority to “take out” North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

A Minn. Mosque Was Bombed, And The Trump Administration Remains Mum

Over the weekend, a makeshift bomb was thrown into a Minnesota mosque in what many activists are calling the latest hate crime against the Muslim American community. Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton (D), along with other state officials, visited the Bloomington mosque and was quick to call the attack “a criminal act of terrorism,” but on the federal level, President Donald J. Trump remains mum.

Pages

Most Recent Blog Posts
All the most recent posts from AU's Wall of Separation Blog & The Protect Thy Neighbor Blog

In Their Responses To Charlottesville, Trump And His Religious Right Allies Failed A Simple Moral Test

Religious Right groups have argued for a long time that a president has to do more than oversee the economy, direct international relations and run the Executive branch. He or she is also expected to set a moral example. During the presidencies of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, Religious Right groups frequently complained – unfairly, in the view of many Americans – that these two men had failed in that regard.

Donald Trump And Roy Moore Launch A New Raft Of Spurious, Anti-Muslim Claims

It’s been a week of pants-on-fire-level, anti-Muslim rhetoric: Days after a U.S. Senate candidate made ridiculous claims about Sharia law being implemented in the American heartland, President Donald J. Trump recirculated a widely discredited trope about brutal war-time treatment of Muslims.

Both claims earned the top “Pants on Fire” rating from the fact-checking website PolitiFact. And both claims only served to stoke anti-Muslim sentiment as the country is still reeling from the hate-filled events in Charlottesville, Va., last weekend.

For Some Reason, The Religious Right Is Looking For A Boost From The Eclipse

One of the most discouraging things about many fundamentalist Christians these days is their utter repudiation of science. It’s not that they can’t understand it – they choose not to try. Furthermore, they often heap disdain upon it.

More Than 4,000 Faith Leaders Send A Message To Congress: Protect The Johnson Amendment

Today more than 4,000 faith leaders from a diverse background of religious traditions and from all 50 states and the District of Columbia came together to support the Johnson Amendment. They signed a letter, which was delivered this morning, calling on members of Congress to resist any attempts to undermine current law.

If Trump Really Wants To Fight Xenophobic Extremists, He Can Start By Cleaning Up His Own House

President Donald J. Trump finally called racist violence “evil” yesterday – but only after he came under significant public pressure for refusing to condemn the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) and neo-Nazis after the violence that occurred over the weekend in Charlottesville, Va.

The Alt-Right And The Religious Right Stand In Opposition To America’s Tradition Of Religious Freedom

This weekend, extremely disturbing images emerged from Charlottesville, Va. When we have actual fascists marching in our streets, spreading hate, waving Nazi flags and screaming slogans of rage aimed our neighbors, friends, family members and coworkers, disengagement is not an option. Decent Americans are morally compelled to respond – not with violence but with pledges to support and protect the communities under attack and through reminders to our nation and the world that we are better than this.

There’s A Right Way To Teach About Religion In Public Schools – Be Inclusive

The Tennessee State Board of Education recently took a big step to making their state’s public education curriculum more inclusive. The state’s new social studies standards for the first time ever includes educating students about Sikhism, the world’s fifth largest religion and the only major faith not previously included in the curriculum.

Wyoming Judge Asks Supreme Court For Permission To Discriminate Against Same-Sex Couples

A Wyoming judge has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to consider whether she has the right to refuse to marry same-sex couples due to her religious beliefs.

Represented by the Religious Right legal group Alliance Defending Freedom, Judge Ruth Neely this month filed a petition asking the high court to review her case after the Wyoming Supreme Court publicly censured her earlier this year.

A Fundamentalist Christian Pastor Says It Would Be Biblical To Attack North Korea. That Should Concern Us.

Just in case you were in need of more reasons to have trouble sleeping at night, consider this: The North Koreans are saber-rattling over nuclear weapons, and one of the men advising President Donald J. Trump on the matter is a Christian fundamentalist pastor who believes the biblical book of Romans gives Trump the authority to “take out” North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

A Minn. Mosque Was Bombed, And The Trump Administration Remains Mum

Over the weekend, a makeshift bomb was thrown into a Minnesota mosque in what many activists are calling the latest hate crime against the Muslim American community. Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton (D), along with other state officials, visited the Bloomington mosque and was quick to call the attack “a criminal act of terrorism,” but on the federal level, President Donald J. Trump remains mum.

Pages

Most Recent Blog Posts
All the most recent posts from AU's Wall of Separation Blog & The Protect Thy Neighbor Blog

In Their Responses To Charlottesville, Trump And His Religious Right Allies Failed A Simple Moral Test

Religious Right groups have argued for a long time that a president has to do more than oversee the economy, direct international relations and run the Executive branch. He or she is also expected to set a moral example. During the presidencies of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, Religious Right groups frequently complained – unfairly, in the view of many Americans – that these two men had failed in that regard.

Donald Trump And Roy Moore Launch A New Raft Of Spurious, Anti-Muslim Claims

It’s been a week of pants-on-fire-level, anti-Muslim rhetoric: Days after a U.S. Senate candidate made ridiculous claims about Sharia law being implemented in the American heartland, President Donald J. Trump recirculated a widely discredited trope about brutal war-time treatment of Muslims.

Both claims earned the top “Pants on Fire” rating from the fact-checking website PolitiFact. And both claims only served to stoke anti-Muslim sentiment as the country is still reeling from the hate-filled events in Charlottesville, Va., last weekend.

For Some Reason, The Religious Right Is Looking For A Boost From The Eclipse

One of the most discouraging things about many fundamentalist Christians these days is their utter repudiation of science. It’s not that they can’t understand it – they choose not to try. Furthermore, they often heap disdain upon it.

More Than 4,000 Faith Leaders Send A Message To Congress: Protect The Johnson Amendment

Today more than 4,000 faith leaders from a diverse background of religious traditions and from all 50 states and the District of Columbia came together to support the Johnson Amendment. They signed a letter, which was delivered this morning, calling on members of Congress to resist any attempts to undermine current law.

If Trump Really Wants To Fight Xenophobic Extremists, He Can Start By Cleaning Up His Own House

President Donald J. Trump finally called racist violence “evil” yesterday – but only after he came under significant public pressure for refusing to condemn the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) and neo-Nazis after the violence that occurred over the weekend in Charlottesville, Va.

The Alt-Right And The Religious Right Stand In Opposition To America’s Tradition Of Religious Freedom

This weekend, extremely disturbing images emerged from Charlottesville, Va. When we have actual fascists marching in our streets, spreading hate, waving Nazi flags and screaming slogans of rage aimed our neighbors, friends, family members and coworkers, disengagement is not an option. Decent Americans are morally compelled to respond – not with violence but with pledges to support and protect the communities under attack and through reminders to our nation and the world that we are better than this.

There’s A Right Way To Teach About Religion In Public Schools – Be Inclusive

The Tennessee State Board of Education recently took a big step to making their state’s public education curriculum more inclusive. The state’s new social studies standards for the first time ever includes educating students about Sikhism, the world’s fifth largest religion and the only major faith not previously included in the curriculum.

Wyoming Judge Asks Supreme Court For Permission To Discriminate Against Same-Sex Couples

A Wyoming judge has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to consider whether she has the right to refuse to marry same-sex couples due to her religious beliefs.

Represented by the Religious Right legal group Alliance Defending Freedom, Judge Ruth Neely this month filed a petition asking the high court to review her case after the Wyoming Supreme Court publicly censured her earlier this year.

A Fundamentalist Christian Pastor Says It Would Be Biblical To Attack North Korea. That Should Concern Us.

Just in case you were in need of more reasons to have trouble sleeping at night, consider this: The North Koreans are saber-rattling over nuclear weapons, and one of the men advising President Donald J. Trump on the matter is a Christian fundamentalist pastor who believes the biblical book of Romans gives Trump the authority to “take out” North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

A Minn. Mosque Was Bombed, And The Trump Administration Remains Mum

Over the weekend, a makeshift bomb was thrown into a Minnesota mosque in what many activists are calling the latest hate crime against the Muslim American community. Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton (D), along with other state officials, visited the Bloomington mosque and was quick to call the attack “a criminal act of terrorism,” but on the federal level, President Donald J. Trump remains mum.

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Press Releases
Church & State
March 2013 Church & State

God's Lawyers

With Millions In Assets And Hundreds Of Attorneys Helping Out, The Religious Right's Legal Machine Is Waging War On The Church-State Wall

March 2012 Church & State

ABC About-Face In Arkansas

State Officials Issue New Regs Barring Taxpayer-Funded Religion In Preschools, After AU Complaint

January 2012 Church & State

Religion And Campaign 2012

Religious Right Forces Are Seeking To Control Presidential Politics And Play A Dominant Role In This Year’s Elections

April 2011 Church & State

Counseling Clash

Religious Right Seeks Bible-Based Exemption From Public University Counseling Program’s Ethics Standards