“Where any of these fights on religious freedom are going to go, will in great part depend upon whether people of faith will stand up and speak now, or will they sit in silence. The outcome is up to you”
These were the words of Alan Sears, CEO, President, and General Counsel of Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), who was in Rome recently for the Humanam Conference on the Complementarity of Man and Woman.
Founded in 1994, ADF is an American Christian nonprofit organization with the stated goal of “defending the right to hear and speak the Truth through strategy, training, funding, and litigation.”
Alliance Defending Freedom, is a network of attorneys dedicated to intrinsic values, such as the sanctity of life, religious freedom, and protecting conscience.
With 38 victories before the Supreme Court, ADF has actively defended public prayer, use of religious displays, such as crosses and religious monuments on public lands and in public buildings. The organization opposes abortion and has protected healthcare workers’ right to not partake in that which they find morally objectionable. ADF actively promotes marriage between man and woman.
Sears explained that in a time when many realize that religious freedom is diminishing daily and wonder whether hope is possible, evidence proves that preserving such hopes is not foolish, nor is maintaining such rights unattainable.
However, despite attacks on public prayer and religious freedoms, the attorney said the courts have produced positive news.
“The future is going to be determined by whether people of faith stand together and stand up,” he declared, after having explained several clear wins their organization has achieved in defending such rights.
Defending Prayer and Religious Rights
“Italy has had crucifixes up in the schools for a very long time.” However when someone moved to Italy, and saw crucifixes in the public schools, they were shocked and called for the Italian government to remove all crucifixes from Italian public school rooms.
Although, he explained, a lower chamber of the court had ruled in favor of the parent in this case of Lautsi v. Italy, ADF got involved and the courts overturned that ruling. Italy was allowed to keep their crucifixes on the grounds that are protected under the European Convention on Human Rights.
When a British Airways check-in counter employee at London’s Heathrow airport had been wearing a small crucifix, this caused an uproar. While other employees were allowed to wear symbols of their religion, such as turbans and hijabs, the employee he was told she had to cover up a small cross necklace.
In that particular case, ADF provided legal support and her rights were upheld by the European Court of Human Rights.
Another example was in the UK when a Christian counselor was expected to give certain counseling to a homosexual couple. “Aware homosexual behavior violates scripture and is contrary to his conscience, he didn’t feel he could promulgate this behavior.” Thus, given this value-conflict, he asked to opt out, but was given trouble.
“If a vegan asks to not serve a hunter or an anti-war peace advocate does not want to serve a soldier, it’s ok,” Sears noted. “For these sorts of things we don’t see those objections, but when it’s based on religious freedom, we do,” he said, adding “especially when it’s related to the Catholic or Jewish faith.”
“Especially at this time in Western nations, we’re seeing this incredible backlash … the demand that Catholic or Jewish persons surrender their consciences and serve others.”
Defending this man’s right of conscience before the European Court of Human Rights and others in similar situations, Sears said, is a key goal of their organization.
The ADF has also intervened in cases which protect the sanctity of human life. One such example took place in Ireland, where a constitutional ban on abortion was challenged. Their efforts resulted in a verdict which held that no right to abortion existed under the European Convention on Human Rights.
Admitting that prayer, particularly gathering for public prayer, has been under attack, especially in the States, he offered said Alliance Defending Freedom has protected such rights, citing a case they won in New York State.
When asked regarding his thoughts on the Humanum Conference, he said, “Joy!’ To see marriage confirmed in such a way is so important, he noted, because it is a remedy for so many things. “Marriage is the number one preventer and protector of poverty,” he said. “So this is joy.”
Humanum was an International Colloquium on the Complementarity of Man and Woman, held at the Vatican from November 17 -19. It was sponsored by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and co-sponsored by the Pontifical Council for the Family, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity.
On the NET:
Alliance Defending Freedom: www.alliancedefendingfreedom.org