When talking about religious freedom, many people envision Christians in foreign countries being persecuted for sharing their beliefs or having to worship in secret. But religious freedom goes beyond being able to preach freely or pray in public, and religious freedom isn’t just an issue abroad. Individuals and churches in America face religious freedom legal challenges all too frequently.
Many of the religious freedom challenges churches face relate to operational aspects of the church: getting equal access to government grants or property, navigating zoning laws and permits, considering the impact of gender identity laws, abiding by employment regulations, knowing the limits of tax exemptions, and more.
Churches should have the freedom to operate in accordance with their beliefs, without facing discrimination from local, state, or federal governments. And they do not have to face legal challenges alone. ADF Church Alliance takes on the legal burden of your church, so that you can focus on ministry.
Watch this video to hear from six pastors who entrusted ADF with their legal needs so they can continue to boldly lead their churches.
REED V. TOWN OF GILBERT
A SIGN FOR CHURCHES BIG AND SMALL
Alliance Defending Freedom took Good News Community Church’s signage issue to the U.S. Supreme Court after the church was prohibited from putting up signs advertising its church services. In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the church in a landmark victory for a church’s free speech rights. What seemed impossible for Good News Community Church turned out to be a larger impact than they could have imagined.
FORT DES MOINES CHURCH OF CHRIST V. JACKSON
FREELY PROCLAIMING THE GOSPEL
The Iowa Civil Rights Act banned churches from expressing their views on human sexuality if they “directly or indirectly” made “persons of any particular … gender identity” feel “unwelcome.” This ban could have been used to silence churches—even extending to a pastor’s sermon on biblical sexuality. Alliance Defending Freedom successfully defended this church’s right to proclaim the gospel freely.
HORIZON CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP V. WILLIAMSON
The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination interpreted the commonwealth’s public accommodations law to apply to churches. The commission decided that churches should be forced to open their changing rooms, restrooms and other private areas to anyone based on that person's perceived gender identity. This church won its case with the help of Alliance Defending Freedom and can now use its facilities consistently with its religious beliefs.
TRINITY LUTHERAN CHURCH OF COLUMBIA, INC. V. COMER
FAIR PLAY FOR CHURCHES
In a 7-2 victory, Alliance Defending Freedom defended Trinity Lutheran Church at the United States Supreme Court after it was denied access to a playground resurfacing grant available to all non-profits. The case established the legal principle that churches should not be excluded from general public benefits solely because of their religious status. This win ensures that churches will have equal access to participate in public programs and benefits.
CENTRO FAMILIAR CRISTIANO BEUNAS NEUVAS CHRISTIAN CHURCH V. CITY OF YUMA
THIS LAND IS FOR CHURCHES
Centro Familiar Christian Church had been looking for a new worship center because the movie theater space it was renting was not adequate for the growing congregation. After purchasing a vacant building in the center of the City of Yuma, the city denied the church a permit to begin using the facilities. After years of legal advocacy, Alliance Defending Freedom secured a win for the church at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
BRONX HOUSEHOLD OF FAITH V. BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK
BRINGING THE GOSPEL TO THE CITY
Bronx Household of Faith outgrew its meeting place in homes and needed a bigger, yet affordable, place to gather for worship. The only viable option for this church was to meet in one of New York City’s public schools. School officials turned down the church’s application, even though they allowed other groups to meet. ADF filed a lawsuit and now churches in New York City are allowed to hold church services in the schools.
Equip your church for the changing culture with practical legal help.
If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.
1 Corinthians 12:26