ADVOCATING FOR RELIGIOUS LIBERTY, THE SANCTITY OF LIFE, AND MARRIAGE AND FAMILY AROUND THE WORLD.
With strategically placed offices throughout the world, including Vienna, Austria; Mexico City, New Delhi, India; New York City, and Washington D.C., we are at the forefront of the international legal battles for religious liberty, life and marriage and the family. Together with hundreds of allied Christian lawyers and like-minded organizations around the globe, we are winning key legal victories at the European Court of Human Rights, the European Union, the Organization of American States and the United Nations, as well as national parliaments and courts
Victory in Sweden Sets Worldwide Precedent
Alliance Defending Freedom coordinates, funds, and litigates important cases with our global allies that have the potential to set legal precedents that could silence and punish Christians. We know that America cannot remain isolated from the impact of these precedents. One such crucial global case involves a courageous pastor from a small church in Sweden.
Pastor Ake Green preached a sermon to his small congregation where he directly quoted Scripture from the Bible on the subject of sexual immorality, including homosexual behavior. A recording of his sermon was provided to the state prosecutor, who instituted a criminal prosecution against Pastor Green for allegedly violating Sweden's "hate speech" law, which prohibits expression criticizing those who engage in homosexual behavior. The trial judge convicted Pastor Green and sentenced him to prison for a period of 30 days – simply for expressing his religious beliefs and boldly speaking the Truth.
Knowing a victory in this case could set a favorable legal precedent preventing the use of “hate speech” to censor Christian expression and stop prosecutions against pastors and churches, Alliance Defending Freedom joined with Swedish allies to defend Pastor Green. By God’s grace – in a unanimous decision at the Supreme Court of Sweden – Pastor Green was acquitted of all charges against him. This was a major victory for the religious liberty of pastors and Christians worldwide.
“Because of [Alliance Defending Freedom], I am a free man.”Ake Green, Swedish Pastor
Alliance Defending Freedom is defending numerous similar grave threats to the religious liberty of Christians.
There are unprecedented international attacks on rights of conscience and religious expression from so-called “hate speech” regulations, allegedly designed to protect listeners from “hurtful” expressions. These laws have been used specifically and repeatedly to censor and restrict traditional Christian expression. The basis of these laws as applied is simple: any speech that any listener finds “offensive” is banned. Not surprisingly, Christian religious speech is often singled out for elimination. Several countries in Europe have already enacted legislation making it a crime to express criticism of homosexual behavior. The result: censorship of Christian biblical teaching on sexually immoral behavior, particularly as it relates to homosexual conduct.
While Pastor Ake Green was ultimately acquitted, pastors aren’t the only ones being persecuted. Christian students at European universities have been punished for respectfully sharing their faith with non-Christians who claimed the message was “offensive.” In the United Kingdom, employees have been penalized for displaying a small Christian cross on a necklace that their employers feared might be “offensive” to others, while symbols of other faiths were openly worn. Read more »
Religious Expression in Public Schools
In the case of Lautsi v. Italy, at the European Court of Human Rights, radical secularists attempted to remove Christian crosses from all public school classrooms. After working with the Italian government and a separate Alliance Defending Freedom intervention, the court recognized Italy’s right to place crosses in its country’s classrooms. Similar efforts to cleanse the cross from the public square are occurring across Europe and North America. Read more »
Restrictions on liberty are being tightened all the time. Each year, for the past decade, resolutions have been passed at the United Nations Human Rights Council and General Assembly condemning so-called “defamation of religion” – meaning “defamation of Islam.” If such efforts become binding, this will make evangelism of Muslims extremely difficult, as any such efforts may be deemed “hate speech.” Read more »
Church Censorship and Discrimination
Tax and permit schemes are being misused to control churches. European laws on registration and taxation, particularly in Eastern Europe, are increasingly being applied to regulate and even eliminate churches and Jewish synagogues. Also, the threat of these regulations is being used to intimidate churches into silence on crucial issues. We are seeing similar efforts in the U.S. By creating and selectively manipulating tax regulations, complex registration schemes, and/or exclusionary zoning regulations, Christian denominations are being aggressively forced out of Moldova, the Russian Federation, Ukraine, Belarus, Turkey, Greece, and other countries.
Churches that promote biblical views on the moral and social issues of the day are routinely smothered in a sea of red tape and hostile regulations. Particularly “troublesome” churches have had their tax exemptions revoked retroactively, effectively ending their legal existence. And some countries have published so-called “sect reports” listing virtually all non-state sanctioned churches as “cults,” making it nearly impossible for them to rent or buy property, borrow from banks, or grow their congregations. This “blacklisting” is devastating to new church plants. Read more »
Freedom of Association
The growing use of “anti-discrimination” regulations is an existential threat to churches. These regulations are a favorite “tool” of the ACLU and similar anti-Christian international organizations at every level of national and international governance in Europe, Latin America, Canada, and the United States. The regulations ban all “discrimination” on the basis of religion – meaning churches and ministries cannot exclude non-Christians from employment at the pastoral level, nor exclude non-Christians from church membership. A church or synagogue, for instance, can be compelled to hire an unrepentant practicing homosexual as pastor or rabbi.
In the United States, Christian student groups have been thrown off campus because they refuse to admit non-Christians to leadership. In England, the University of Exeter attempted to ban the Christian Student Union, a ministry established more than 50 years ago as a campus mission for prayer and evangelism. The school’s reasoning was that the ministry limited official membership to professing Christians, thus “discriminating” against non-Christians. There are also numerous cases in which religious employees have been terminated from employment on the grounds that they could not—without violating their conscience—support same-sex “marriage.” There is a growing movement at the United Nations, European Union, and other bodies of international governance to adopt such measures.
And this is just the tip of the iceberg.
The Sanctity of Life
In the pivotal case of A, B and C v. Ireland, dubbed by many as “the Roe v. Wade of Europe,” there was an attempt to introduce abortion as a “human right” under the European Convention. Shortly after Alliance Defending Freedom successfully intervened in the case to defend Ireland’s constitutional right to protect preborn life—where Alliance Defending Freedom prevailed—a new case was launched against Poland’s restrictive abortion laws. Together with our international allies, we will resist this attack, as well. Read more »
There is an international effort to criminalize all “home education” and eliminate parental rights as we know them. For example, German parents who chose to keep their children from attending four school days of “sexual education”—which taught students a view of sexuality that contradicted their sincerely held religious beliefs—were fined and then sentenced to more than six weeks in prison. The outcome of this case could set an international precedent that could be used to determine if the government has the ultimate responsibility for making educational choices, or if parents can opt to teach their children a view of sexuality in accordance with their own religious beliefs. Read more »
Similarly, Swedish government authorities seized a seven-year-old boy from his parents and placed him with a foster family because the government objected to the Christian parents home schooling their son. After a three-year legal battle, a Swedish district court has ruled that the parental rights of a 10-year-old boy abducted by the government three years ago for being home-schooled will not be terminated. Read more »
Marriage and Family
Canada’s legalization of same-sex “marriage” has resulted in a related fight to sustain anti-polygamy laws in British Columbia courts. An Alliance Defending Freedom allied attorney led the successful legal effort to convince the court to uphold these laws.
Alliance Defending Freedom and its allies are directly fighting in all of the cases described above to prevent international precedents harmful to the Body of Christ.
Alliance Defending Freedom and its allies have also had extraordinary opportunities to keep the door open for the spread of the Gospel.
In India, it is a crime in some states to convert from Hinduism to Christianity. As a result, over the past three years, more than 100 people in the Indian State of Orissa who have chosen Christ as their Savior have been brutally killed, and their homes, churches, and Christian schools were burned to the ground by radical Hindu mobs. Regardless, people in Orissa and elsewhere are converting to Christianity by the tens of thousands, and there could be hundreds of thousands more if it weren’t for legal obstacles and threats of violence.
Despite these heinous acts of violence, Indian law enforcement authorities have taken little or no action to punish the perpetrators. Alliance Defending Freedom and its allies in India are the only legal organizations on the ground defending the victims and bringing civil and criminal legal actions against mob leaders and other participants in the killings. By God’s grace, together we have obtained the very first criminal convictions against the perpetrators of the Orissa Christian killings, including the very first life sentences imposed. Our goal is to bring justice to the victims and their families, and to deter the mobs from committing future acts of violence against Christians. Alliance Defending Freedom has also launched a major legal initiative to challenge Indian “anti-conversion” laws in the courts – all in an effort to keep the door open for the spread of the Gospel. Read more »
Together, We Must Protect Religious Liberty
By working in alliance with hundreds of Christian lawyers and like-minded organizations, key legal battles for religious liberty, the sanctity of life, and marriage and the family, are being fought and won around the world.
Will you help Alliance Defending Freedom defend religious liberty where it is threatened? The battle will be long and costly, but with the prayers and financial support of the Body of Christ we can – and will – be victorious (Apart from Christ, we can do nothing. John 15:5)! You can make a Kingdom difference today by giving a generous gift that will help keep the door open for the spread of the Gospel!