Last week marked my transition to a new role at Alliance Defending Freedom, as I hand off the reins of CEO, President, and General Counsel to Michael Farris. (You can read more about that transition here.)
As you might imagine, this is a time of considerable change for our new leadership, for me personally, and for the organization as a whole. And amid all this transition, nothing is as comforting as seeing the ideals this organization has been committed to for nearly 25 years – life, marriage and the family, and religious freedom – honored with continuing victories in courtrooms coast to coast.
Three recent victories are especially encouraging to see at this pivotal juncture:
- Following up on a major, year-long effort by ADF and its allies, a final report was issued by a panel in the U.S. House of Representatives that exposes criminal actions on a grand scale by Planned Parenthood and calls on Congress to stop funding the murderous activities of this abortion juggernaut. The panel’s report coincides with last week’s release of the latest annual report to Congress from Alliance Defending Freedom and Charlotte Lozier Institute, identifying waste, abuse, and potential fraud by Planned Parenthood, state family-planning programs, and other organizations.
The panel’s report was based on its public hearings held last year as an investigative arm of the Energy and Commerce Committee, investigating the law and business of fetal tissue research and trafficking. Based on the information presented at those hearings, former U.S. Attorneys and a senior federal litigator agreed to open a criminal case against tissue procurement businesses. The panel is making additional criminal and regulatory referrals to federal and state agencies and law enforcement officials.
The report doesn’t just recommend cutting off these dubious resources; it nudges Congress to give the billions in taxpayer funds currently inflating Planned Parenthood’s already-overflowing coffers to more worthwhile low-cost family health organizations that do not perform abortions.
- The last week of December saw something of a Christmas miracle for those committed to protecting America’s families.
Last year, North Carolina’s legislature enacted HB2, the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act – a bill designed to protect the privacy and safety of citizens in public showers, locker rooms and restrooms. The new law brought a deluge of intense opposition from celebrities, corporations, sports leagues, and the federal government, all determined to browbeat state officials into altering or undoing the commonsense legislation.
North Carolina legislators initially endured the full-court media barrage admirably, but as political machinations to repeal the law accelerated, the state’s outgoing governor, Pat McCrory, called the legislature into special session to address the issue. A formidable political battle ensued, and for a while it looked as though the bill would be repealed. But many legislators held firm, asking people of faith all over the country to pray for their efforts.
Many did, and as a result, just days before Christmas, the legislature voted to uphold the law. A number of legislators told our ADF allies that they felt uniquely empowered for the hard-fought political struggle, in the wake of so many prayers.
- Last fall, ADF attorneys filed suit against Massachusetts officials on behalf of four churches, in a case with potentially ominous implications for congregations nationwide.
The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination and Attorney General Maura Healey both interpreted the commonwealth’s recently amended public accommodations law as justification for forcing churches to open their changing rooms, shower facilities, restrooms, and other intimate areas to people of all gender identities – regardless of a person’s biological sex or the churches’ religious beliefs.
Faced with the lawsuit, the government officials eventually admitted that the First Amendment protects churches’ freedom to operate consistently with their faith, even when engaged in community outreach activities. The commonwealth revised its official Gender Identity Guidance and website language to more accurately reflect those constitutional protections, and on December 12, the churches voluntarily dismissed their lawsuit.
Three great victories – for life, for families, for religious freedom. A terrific note on which to end one year, and begin another, in the ongoing struggle to defend our most precious liberties.
And, for me personally, a timely validation of the principles this ministry was founded to preserve and protect, as our team moves into a new era, with new leadership … ready to face the challenges and embrace the vast future God has before us.