It may be hard to see it right now, but there was much to be thankful for in 2020.
We here at Alliance Defending Freedom are especially grateful for you. Without your prayers and support, several of this year’s key legal victories wouldn’t have been possible.
Here are just a few of those victories from the past year.
1. Student Free Speech Protected on California State University Campuses
In response to an ADF lawsuit, CSU–San Marcos agreed to revise a campus policy that allowed university officials to allocate student funding unequally and favor some student groups over others. Additionally, the Chancellor ordered all 23 other CSU campuses—which represents close to half a million students—to modify their policies to require viewpoint neutral allocation of student fees.
2. California Church Gets Great News in Its Fight Not to Be Forced to Pay for Abortions
In August 2014, a California mandate added elective abortion coverage to Skyline Wesleyan Church’s healthcare plan—without the church even knowing about it. That’s why, with the help of ADF, it filed a lawsuit against the state. Thankfully, in May, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit recognized that Skyline Church suffered an injury when the state mandated that its healthcare plan cover elective abortions. This case will continue in the lower courts, but this was an important victory along the way!
3. Thousands of Churches and Ministries Protected Against COVID-19 Government Overreach
Since the start of the outbreak, as officials attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19, some government officials have overstepped their authority. But even during a pandemic, the First Amendment is not suspended. And ADF has been hard at work to make sure your constitutional rights remain intact. This year, ADF has successfully defended the rights of 15 churches and ministries, and we’ve assisted, or equipped others to assist, over 3,000 churches and ministries on COVID-19 related issues.
4. Court Rules Photographer Chelsey Nelson Has the Right to Choose Which Events to Celebrate
Chelsey is a wedding photographer and blogger who wants to run her business and create photographs consistent with her Christian belief that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. But according to a local law, if Chelsey photographs and blogs celebratory messages about weddings between one man and one woman, she must do the same for same-sex weddings—or face substantial penalties. So, with ADF’s help, Chelsey filed a lawsuit to protect her rights. Thankfully, in August, a federal district court ruled that “the government can’t force [people of faith] to march for, or salute in favor of, or create an artistic expression that celebrates, a marriage that their conscience doesn’t condone.”
5. Court Allows Adoption Provider to Continue Serving Children While Its Lawsuit Continues
New Hope Family Services is a faith-based adoption and foster care provider that believes the best home for a child is one with a mother and father committed to each other in marriage. Because of this belief, the State of New York threatened New Hope with an ultimatum: Violate your religious conscience or shut down, which means it would have to cease placing children in loving families. ADF filed a lawsuit on New Hope’s behalf, and thankfully, a district court ruled that the state cannot take away New Hope’s authorization to place children with families while its lawsuit against the state proceeds. This is a big win for the children that New Hope serves!
6. Wedding Officiant Won’t Be Forced to Perform Ceremonies Against Her Beliefs
Kristi Stokes owns and operates Covenant Weddings, through which she performs wedding ceremonies and writes custom vows, prayers, and homilies for those celebrations. She wants to operate her business consistently with her belief that marriage is between one man and one woman. But a local law threatened to force her to violate her beliefs. So she took a stand. Thankfully, in October, the government acknowledged that it could not apply this law against Kristi.
7. Florida State Student Reinstated to His Rightful Position as Student Senate President
When Jack Denton privately shared his beliefs in a Catholic group chat, he could never have foreseen the chain of events that followed. Because of his beliefs, Jack was the target of a smear campaign on campus as his fellow students circulated petitions calling for his removal as Student Senate President. Jack then sat through seven hours of student comments berating him for his beliefs and was stripped of his position as Student Senate President. But Jack has the right to share his beliefs under the First Amendment, which is why ADF filed a lawsuit on his behalf. Thankfully, Jack was ultimately reinstated as Student Senate President, and a court acknowledged that his free speech rights had been violated.
None of this would have been possible without your support and prayers. You are making an important difference for religious freedom and free speech.
Thank you for all you have done for ADF in 2020!
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