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

Here’s Your Chance To Say Thanks To Barry Lynn For 25 Years Of Leadership

Twenty-five years ago today, Sept. 22, 1992, the governing body of Americans United voted to hire a fellow named Barry W. Lynn to be the new executive director of Americans United.

A lawyer and United Church of Christ minister, Barry hit the ground running. One of the things he did best was irritate the Religious Right groups that hate church-state separation – a proud legacy he continues to this day. Leaders of these groups were flummoxed. How is it that a Christian minister had emerged as their most articulate opponent?

Air Force Chaplain Says ‘True’ Christian Service Members Can’t Support Rights Of Non-Christians

Military chaplains should be prepared to serve the religious and spiritual needs of a diverse community of troops, but one evangelical Christian Air Force chaplain in Ohio apparently has a problem supporting the rights of people of different faiths.

Religious Minorities Are Leading The Resistance To Trump’s Divisive Rhetoric

The Donald J. Trump administration’s discriminatory rhetoric has united religious minorities to mobilize and fight back. Most recently, hundreds of rabbis boycotted the annual High Holy Day call, in which Trump conveyed wishes to Jewish leaders ahead of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year that begins this evening.

Join AU In Pledging That Religious Freedom Is About Fairness

As we approach the start of a new U.S. Supreme Court term that will include two cases with major church-state separation implications, you can show your support for religious freedom and AU’s work by pledging that “Religious Freedom Is About Fairness.”

The pledge, which you can take here, affirms:

AU To Supreme Court: Muslim Ban Violates Constitution’s Promise Of Religious Freedom And Fairness

Today, Americans United and our allies told the U.S. Supreme Court that President Donald Trump’s Muslim ban is an unconstitutional violation of America’s fundamental promise of religious freedom.

Religious freedom is about fairness – we don’t treat people differently because their beliefs are different from ours, and we certainly don’t ban people from America based on their religion. But that’s just what Trump’s Muslim ban does.

The Religious Right Is Happy To Judge Everyone – Except President Trump

Earlier this month, I wrote a blog post about the Religious Right’s decision to stick with President Donald J. Trump no matter what he says or does. I noted the hypocrisy of the members of this movement, who are normally so quick to judge everyone else, in backing a man whose moral lapses are glaring and who clearly lacks the “biblical worldview” these folks claim to champion.

Pages

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

Here’s Your Chance To Say Thanks To Barry Lynn For 25 Years Of Leadership

Twenty-five years ago today, Sept. 22, 1992, the governing body of Americans United voted to hire a fellow named Barry W. Lynn to be the new executive director of Americans United.

A lawyer and United Church of Christ minister, Barry hit the ground running. One of the things he did best was irritate the Religious Right groups that hate church-state separation – a proud legacy he continues to this day. Leaders of these groups were flummoxed. How is it that a Christian minister had emerged as their most articulate opponent?

Air Force Chaplain Says ‘True’ Christian Service Members Can’t Support Rights Of Non-Christians

Military chaplains should be prepared to serve the religious and spiritual needs of a diverse community of troops, but one evangelical Christian Air Force chaplain in Ohio apparently has a problem supporting the rights of people of different faiths.

Religious Minorities Are Leading The Resistance To Trump’s Divisive Rhetoric

The Donald J. Trump administration’s discriminatory rhetoric has united religious minorities to mobilize and fight back. Most recently, hundreds of rabbis boycotted the annual High Holy Day call, in which Trump conveyed wishes to Jewish leaders ahead of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year that begins this evening.

Join AU In Pledging That Religious Freedom Is About Fairness

As we approach the start of a new U.S. Supreme Court term that will include two cases with major church-state separation implications, you can show your support for religious freedom and AU’s work by pledging that “Religious Freedom Is About Fairness.”

The pledge, which you can take here, affirms:

AU To Supreme Court: Muslim Ban Violates Constitution’s Promise Of Religious Freedom And Fairness

Today, Americans United and our allies told the U.S. Supreme Court that President Donald Trump’s Muslim ban is an unconstitutional violation of America’s fundamental promise of religious freedom.

Religious freedom is about fairness – we don’t treat people differently because their beliefs are different from ours, and we certainly don’t ban people from America based on their religion. But that’s just what Trump’s Muslim ban does.

The Religious Right Is Happy To Judge Everyone – Except President Trump

Earlier this month, I wrote a blog post about the Religious Right’s decision to stick with President Donald J. Trump no matter what he says or does. I noted the hypocrisy of the members of this movement, who are normally so quick to judge everyone else, in backing a man whose moral lapses are glaring and who clearly lacks the “biblical worldview” these folks claim to champion.

Pages

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

Here’s Your Chance To Say Thanks To Barry Lynn For 25 Years Of Leadership

Twenty-five years ago today, Sept. 22, 1992, the governing body of Americans United voted to hire a fellow named Barry W. Lynn to be the new executive director of Americans United.

A lawyer and United Church of Christ minister, Barry hit the ground running. One of the things he did best was irritate the Religious Right groups that hate church-state separation – a proud legacy he continues to this day. Leaders of these groups were flummoxed. How is it that a Christian minister had emerged as their most articulate opponent?

Air Force Chaplain Says ‘True’ Christian Service Members Can’t Support Rights Of Non-Christians

Military chaplains should be prepared to serve the religious and spiritual needs of a diverse community of troops, but one evangelical Christian Air Force chaplain in Ohio apparently has a problem supporting the rights of people of different faiths.

Religious Minorities Are Leading The Resistance To Trump’s Divisive Rhetoric

The Donald J. Trump administration’s discriminatory rhetoric has united religious minorities to mobilize and fight back. Most recently, hundreds of rabbis boycotted the annual High Holy Day call, in which Trump conveyed wishes to Jewish leaders ahead of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year that begins this evening.

Join AU In Pledging That Religious Freedom Is About Fairness

As we approach the start of a new U.S. Supreme Court term that will include two cases with major church-state separation implications, you can show your support for religious freedom and AU’s work by pledging that “Religious Freedom Is About Fairness.”

The pledge, which you can take here, affirms:

AU To Supreme Court: Muslim Ban Violates Constitution’s Promise Of Religious Freedom And Fairness

Today, Americans United and our allies told the U.S. Supreme Court that President Donald Trump’s Muslim ban is an unconstitutional violation of America’s fundamental promise of religious freedom.

Religious freedom is about fairness – we don’t treat people differently because their beliefs are different from ours, and we certainly don’t ban people from America based on their religion. But that’s just what Trump’s Muslim ban does.

The Religious Right Is Happy To Judge Everyone – Except President Trump

Earlier this month, I wrote a blog post about the Religious Right’s decision to stick with President Donald J. Trump no matter what he says or does. I noted the hypocrisy of the members of this movement, who are normally so quick to judge everyone else, in backing a man whose moral lapses are glaring and who clearly lacks the “biblical worldview” these folks claim to champion.

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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