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Supreme Court of the United States

On “The Glorious Fourth,” A Celebration Of Commitment

By Alan Sears posted on:
October 17, 2017

“There are only two creatures of value on the face of the earth: those with commitment, and those who require the commitment of others.”

The authors of the Broadway musical 1776 attribute that line to John Adams. It fits. He may or may not have actually said those precise words, but they certainly articulate his lifelong philosophy – and the spirit that prevailed among a few dozen remarkable men that hot early-July morning, 240 years ago, as they scrawled their names beneath words that severed their homeland from an abusive empire. In doing so, they gave the world what Abraham Lincoln later called “a good definition of liberty.”

The men who pledged their support for that extraordinary Declaration with “our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor” understood more about commitment than many of us will ever know. None of them were making empty pledges – they were, many of them, men with real fortunes to lose … facing the very real prospect of the gallows … branding themselves as “traitors” and worse in the eyes of many of their neighbors and friends.

Two things sustained them. One: each other. The mutual steely resolve they recognized in each other’s personal commitment … and the candid realization that, as Benjamin Franklin famously quipped, “We must all hang together – or we shall most assuredly hang separately.”

And two, in the words of the Declaration itself, “a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence.”

You can be firm in that reliance only so long as you share the assurance that what you’re declaring for is clearly aligned with the Divine’s own priorities. That is why we at Alliance Defending Freedom so frequently remind ourselves of John 15:5, in which Jesus says, “Apart from Me, you can do nothing.” And it is why we are so thankful that our work across the U.S. and around the world in support of religious freedom continues to enjoy His merciful protection and provision.

But like the Founding Fathers, we also take heart from what we see of Him in people like you – of the knowledge that each of our own commitments sustain, and are sustained by, the solemn commitment of so many others. None of us stands alone, fights alone, serves alone.

In times every bit as sobering and tumultuous as those that gave birth to this nation, we, too, are each risking in some way threats to our lives, fortunes, and honor. As men and women of faith increasingly isolated by a decaying legal and popular culture, we look more and more to the depths of our own commitment … and require more and more the commitment of each other to those truths we still hold self-evident.

It is, then, with a continuing sense of wonder at the depth and breadth of that commitment that I extend my personal, heartfelt thanks to each of you who has blessed Alliance Defending Freedom with your extraordinarily generous financial support and gracious words of encouragement over this last fiscal year. Because of your commitment, we’ve been able to …

... defend Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, whose preschool center – open to the whole community – was excluded from a Missouri program that provides grants to purchase rubberized surface material (made of recycled tires) for children’s playgrounds. Although the state says the center qualified for the program, it denied the center’s application (and the safety material for the children) solely because a church runs the preschool. Our attorneys will represent the church at the U.S. Supreme Court this fall.

… play key behind-the-scenes roles in helping defund Planned Parenthood in 15 states – and counting.

… successfully defend Blaine Adamson (owner of a Lexington, Kentucky print shop) against a complaint filed with the local Human Rights Commission, after he declined, for reasons of faith, to print shirts promoting an LGBT group’s festival. 

… help secure a critical U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Zubik v. Burwell that requires the Obama administration to work with religious organizations – including Christian ministries, schools, and hospitals – in ways that respect their religious beliefs, rather than force them to violate those beliefs by offering health insurance plans that provide coverage for contraception and abortion.

… move aggressively in a variety of settings to pressure both the U.S. government and multiple international parliaments to recognize and act in response to anti-Christian genocide in the Middle East. 

That’s only a small portion of the efforts your commitment and generosity have enabled us to accomplish – and only a glimpse of what we’ll continue to accomplish, with your ongoing commitment to stand with us in support of life, families, and religious freedom.

This summer, tens of thousands of families all over the U.S. will make their way to Disneyland. Between the rides and the shops and the restaurants, some of those thousands will make their way in to see “Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln,” a Main Street attraction at the park for more than half a century.

The exhibition features an animatronic Lincoln quoting brief passages from some of the president’s lesser-known speeches. Many even today find it disarming how prescient his remarks were – most of them focused on the fact that our nation will always be endangered less from outside nations and forces than from its own failure to hold true to its founding principles. In light of that, Lincoln says:

“Let us strive to deserve, as far as mortals may, the continued care of Divine Providence … neither let us be slandered from our duty by false accusations against us, nor frightened from it by [the] menaces of destruction to the government nor of dungeons to ourselves. Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith, let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it.”

Lincoln understood the danger. He understood the responsibility that is ours as Americans to stand in vigilant defense of that which so many around us take for granted. And like Adams and so many other great leaders across our remarkable history – like so many of you – he understood commitment.

I’m thankful that you do, too. And that we have the great privilege of standing together with those souls – across time and continents – who have held to faith, and done their duty.

May God bless our efforts, and may God bless America. Happy Fourth.

Alan Sears

Alan Sears


Alan Sears served as founder of Alliance Defending Freedom, building on his experience as longtime leader of the organization to strengthen alliances, forge new relationships, and develop ADF resources.

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