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VA churches, faith-based groups to court: We shouldn’t face financial ruin for operating by our beliefs

ADF attorneys available to media following oral arguments Friday
Calvary Road Baptist Church building

WHO: Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys

WHAT: Available for media interviews following hearing at Loudoun County Circuit Court

WHEN: Immediately following hearing, which begins at 10 a.m. EDT, Friday, July 16

WHERE: Hearing is telephonic and unavailable to the public; to schedule an interview, contact ADF Media Relations Specialist Bernadette Tasy at (480) 356-0324

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing two churches, three schools, and a pregnancy center network will be available for media interviews Friday following oral arguments before the Loudoun County Circuit Court in Calvary Road Baptist Church v. Herring.

The lawsuit challenges a Virginia law that forces nonprofit ministries to abandon their core convictions in hiring and other policies or face fines up to $100,000 for each violation.

“Religious organizations are free to make employment decisions without fear of government punishment, yet a Virginia law is violating this protected freedom by requiring them to abandon their beliefs or pay a devastating price,” said ADF Senior Counsel Denise Harle. “Virginia communities benefit greatly from the services provided by churches and faith-based schools and nonprofits, and the commonwealth must respect their right—just like anyone else’s—to continue operating by their own internal policies and codes of conduct about life, marriage, and sexuality.”

The Virginia Values Act, enacted in July 2020, compels churches, religious schools, and Christian ministries to hire employees who do not share their stated beliefs on marriage, sexuality, and gender identity. A companion law requires the ministries and others like them to include in employee health care plans coverage for sex reassignment and “gender affirming” surgeries that run contrary to their beliefs. It also prohibits the ministries from offering sex-specific classes for parenting, Christian discipleship, and sports.

“Being able to freely live and work according to one’s beliefs is fundamental to who we are as Americans and is protected by the Constitution,” said ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot, vice president of the ADF Center for Life. “What we’re seeing in Virginia, however, are government officials trying to control churches and religious groups and force them to abandon their convictions. The commonwealth has no business dictating how a faith-based organization should handle its employment decisions.”

More than 70 Virginia faith leaders signed an open letter to Gov. Ralph Northam and the Virginia General Assembly citing serious concerns about the Virginia Values Act.

  • Pronunciation guide: Harle (HAR’-lee)

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, parental rights, and the sanctity of life.


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Kevin Theriot
Kevin Theriot
Senior Counsel
Kevin Theriot serves as senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom