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Department: Allied Front

Alliance Defending Freedom

For Faith, For Justice

Article originally appeared in
Salvo 22

Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is an alliance-building legal ministry defending religious freedom, life, and marriage. Formed to advocate for the right of people to freely live out their faith in these three spheres, its tagline is "For Faith, For Justice."

In 1994, after recognizing the need for a strong, coordinated legal defense against growing attacks on religious freedom, more than thirty prominent Christian leaders launched by Alliance Defending Freedom (originally called the Alliance Defense Fund). Five men in particular took a leading role in founding the legal ministry: the late Dr. Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ (now Cru); the late Larry Burkett, a co-founder of Crown Financial Ministries; Dr. James C. Dobson, founder and chairman emeritus of Focus on the Family, and also the founder of Family Talk; the late Dr. D. James Kennedy, former senior pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church; and the late Marlin Maddoux, former host of the radio program Point of View. These five men set a high standard of excellence and stewardship that the Alliance Defending Freedom continues to abide by today.

Answering an Urgent Need

By the 1990s, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and its allies had for decades been using the courts to drive out public expressions of faith and to radically change America into something our Founding Fathers never intended. Despite the outstanding efforts of many Christians, religious freedom was rapidly eroding, and a twisted view of the First Amendment was being advanced through the ACLU's relentless campaign of disinformation and intimidation.

So when these five men and the other thirty leaders surveyed the battlefield, they saw that their side was in disarray with inadequate resources to win: there were allies, but no alliance, only a limited attempt at a unified effort and strategy. There was also no organized method to recruit and train Christian attorneys in modern legal challenges. Inadequate funding also proved a hindrance, allowing our opponents, never at a loss for funds, to advance their agenda. Unsurprisingly, a big, discouraging myth emerged during this period: that the ACLU and its allies could never actually be defeated.

Therefore, the Alliance Defending Freedom was founded for a unique purpose: to build an alliance of thousands of attorneys and like-minded organizations that would work together to defend and advocate for religious liberty, for the sanctity of life, and for marriage and the family. Yet it is important to remember that Alliance Defending Freedom is not simply an "anti-ACLU" ministry, as some have been wont to describe us in the past. While we certainly recognize the threat the ACLU poses to life, marriage, and freedom of religion in this country, we are also aware that it is but one of many adversaries in these areas.

Having an Impact

Over the past eighteen years, by Alliance Defending Freedom has built an alliance of more than 2,200 attorneys, based throughout the United States and around the world, who are ready to use their training and skills for faith and for justice whenever called upon to do so. Our allied organizations include such diverse groups as the American Center for Law and Justice, Americans United for Life, the Federalist Society, and the Home School Legal Defense Association, among others. We do not duplicate our allies' work, nor aid them in areas outside the scope of our mission.

Alliance Defending Freedom and its allied groups have been blessed with much success, winning 80 percent of the cases they have litigated. For details about some of these victories, as well as to obtain more information about Alliance Defending Freedom, please visit our website:

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