Can we do more?
How can we say yes?
I often wrestle with these questions. Every month I review stacks of applications from attorneys looking for help. They need funding to enable them to stand with people that are unjustly harmed, silenced, or rejected.
For the past 15 years I’ve been privileged to oversee the Alliance Defending Freedom grant program. This program provides money to allied attorneys and organizations advocating for marriage and family, the protection of life, and the right to freely live out one’s faith. Since the founding of ADF, more than $45 million dollars have been awarded to support thousands of cases and legal projects.
God has used the program to shape the laws of nations with victories at the U.S Supreme Court, the European Court of Human Rights, and the high courts of several nations. The program has been an instrument for justice on behalf of Christians killed for their faith in nations like India, Nigeria, and in the Middle East. And thousands have been helped in courts of all levels throughout the world.
And yet, every month I’ve got a stack of applications seeking help I can’t give. Because every month the need exceeds the funding capacity of the grant program, which often forces me to say “no,” “not now,” or “here is a small fraction of what you need” to people who have the courage to put their faith into action.
People like Eleanor McCullen, whose love for women considering abortion prompted her to fight the State of Massachusetts for the right to share her compassion and hope outside of abortion clinics. The fight lasted seven years and she ended up with a 9-0 victory at the U.S. Supreme Court. But it took a legal team that persevered through six years and five losses in the lower courts to finally get the ultimate victory. The allied attorneys representing Eleanor donated time and expertise later valued by the court at more than $2.4 million.
For years, I would periodically get an application from the Eleanor’s lawyer seeking help to stay in the fight. We provided what we could, but after years of fighting and with the courtroom losses piling up, the grant review committee began questioning whether our limited resources would do more good supporting other causes. But we knew Eleanor’s passion and we knew that children were now alive and not aborted, because of her, and we asked “how can we not?” So we struggled with the question “how can we say yes?” Thanks be to God, ADF was able to provide enough help to allow the fight to go forward, but it was a fraction of what was needed and Eleanor’s attorney was barely hanging on. When the case was over, the attorney confided that he simply would not have been able to carry forward with the litigation had ADF not provided a grant.
And sometimes funds are needed to fight for justice and change. Chelsea was a teenage girl that was abused, impregnated, and coerced into having an abortion by her soccer coach. The laws and the medical professionals that should have informed her parents and the authorities to ensure Chelsea got the help and support she needed failed. Tragically the abuse continued. Eventually, Chelsea’s parents discovered the truth and sought legal help. The soccer coach was criminally convicted and an allied attorney reached out to ADF for funding to support a lawsuit against the abortion giant, Planned Parenthood, who failed to protect Chelsea. But fighting Planned Parenthood is costly. The abortionist intentionally makes litigation drawn out, painful and expensive to deter victims and lawyers from bringing suit in the first place. Again, we could only provide a small fraction of what was needed. And again, God faithfully brought justice for Chelsea. She won a settlement from Planned Parenthood, sparked reform in the state laws, and her story was instrumental in a legal defense of a parental notification law passed in another state.
These stories had happy endings, and I am so thankful. But I know how close we came to having to say “no” to funding requests for both of these cases. And I know there are too many cases that get a “no” because we simply lack the resources. How many more people are out there like Chelsea and Eleanor who can’t set nation-shaping precedent and can’t get justice because we have to say “no?”
That’s where you, our ADF Ministry Friends, come in. With your generous and selfless gift, you can help turn a “no” into a “yes” for dozen more allied attorneys who are working tirelessly to keep the door open for the Gospel. Their dedication to advocating for religious liberty, marriage and family, and the sanctity of life is inspiring, and it is our joy to support their work. Will you join us?