Skip to content

Freedom of conscience

“I would rather be exposed to the inconveniencies attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of it.” –Thomas Jefferson
Published on

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys and allied attorneys are involved in numerous legal matters in defense of the freedom of citizens to live according to their faith and conscience without punishment by the government. We are available for media interviews on this important freedom and any of the related legal matters listed below. Members of the media may book an interview through our media contact page. To notify us of a potential legal matter, or if you believe you are in a situation in which your freedom of conscience or religion has been violated, visit our legal help page.

Legal matters


  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services abortion-pill mandate: The Obama administration implemented a mandate that forces employers, regardless of their religious or moral convictions, to provide insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception under threat of heavy penalties by the Internal Revenue Service and other federal agencies if the mandate’s requirements aren’t met.
  • Abortion mandates: Both the California Department of Managed Health Care and the District of Columbia Council are forcing pro-life organizations to pay for insurance coverage that covers elective abortions. California’s mandate forces churches and religious organizations to pay for such coverage as well.
  • Stormans v. Wiesman: A pharmacy and two pharmacists are challenging regulations passed by the Washington State Pharmacy Board which mandate that pharmacies must stock and pharmacists must dispense the “morning-after” pill if requested by a customer even when other nearby pharmacies and pharmacists will fill the order.
  • European Federation of Catholic Family Associations (FAFCE) v. Sweden: FAFCE has brought suit against Sweden before the European Committee of Social Rights regarding its failure to protect the conscience rights of medical staff and for not providing enough protection to vulnerable woman from receiving unnecessary abortions.
  • Grimmark v. Landstinget i Jönköpings Län: Three different government-run medical clinics in Sweden denied employment to a midwife because she will not assist with abortions.
  • European Union Equal Treatment Directive: A draft piece of EU legislation that could negatively affect freedom of conscience across all of Europe.

Artistic professionals:

  • Ingersoll v. Arlene’s Flowers, State of Washington v. Arlene’s Flowers, and Arlene’s Flowers v. Ferguson: Both the state of Washington and a long-time customer have sued Barronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene’s Flowers, for declining to use her artistic skills to participate in and design custom floral arrangements for the customer’s same-sex ceremony. Stutzman instead referred the customer to one of a large number of other florists in the area who were willing to fill the order.
  • Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Craig: Two men filed a complaint with the state of Colorado after cake artist Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop declined to use his artistic abilities to promote and endorse their same-sex ceremony. The men filed the complaint even though other cake artists were willing to do the job.
  • Hands On Originals v. Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission: The Gay and Lesbian Services Organization filed a complaint with the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission after Kentucky printer Blaine Adamson of Hands On Originals declined to print shirts for the GLSO’s Pride Festival because he did not want to promote the message of the event. Adamson instead referred the GLSO to other printers in the area who were willing to fill the order.
  • Cryer v. Klein: Two women filed a complaint with the state of Oregon after cake artist Melissa Klein of Sweet Cakes by Melissa declined to use her artistic abilities to promote and endorse their same-sex ceremony. The women filed the complaint even though other cake artists were willing to do the job.


  • Cochran v. City of Atlanta: The city of Atlanta, Georgia, suspended its fire chief for 30 days and required him to complete a conformity program after activists who don’t agree with the fire chief’s Christian views complained. After an investigation found Kelvin Cochran’s beliefs did not lead him to discriminate against anyone, the mayor fired him anyway—ironically on the basis of the need to tolerate diverse views.


  • Gifford v. New York State Division of Human Rights: Two women filed a complaint with the state of New York after Robert and Cynthia Gifford, because of their religious beliefs about marriage, declined to host in their home the same-sex ceremony of two women. The Giffords live in the upstairs room of a historic barn and occasionally host a few weddings downstairs while allowing the bridal party get dressed and prepared for the wedding in other rooms of the home. 
  • Cervelli v. Aloha Bed & Breakfast: Two self-identified lesbians filed a complaint with the state of Hawaii after Phyllis Young declined, because of her religious beliefs about marriage, to allow the women to rent a room and share a bed in her home, just as she had also done when an unmarried female relative requested to share a room with her boyfriend. Young and her husband rent a few rooms in their 2,000-square-foot home under the name “Aloha Bed & Breakfast” to supplement their retirement income.

Famous quotes on freedom of conscience

  • “I would rather be exposed to the inconveniencies attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of it.”  – Thomas Jefferson
  • “Government is instituted to protect property of every sort; as well that which lies in the various rights of individuals, as that which the term particularly expresses. This being the end of government, that alone is a just government, which impartially secures to every man, whatever is his own.… Conscience is the most sacred of all property; other property depending in part on positive law, the exercise of that, being a natural and unalienable right.”  – James Madison
  • “If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us.”  – U.S. Supreme Court in West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette
  • “Our faith journey isn’t just about showing up on Sunday for a good sermon and good music and a good meal. It’s about what we do Monday through Saturday as well, especially in those quiet moments, when the spotlight’s not on us, and we’re making those daily choices about how to live our lives.”  – Michelle Obama