How do you measure a year? By moments remembered? Milestones passed? Accomplishments or setbacks? For myself, I like to measure the turning of the calendar by results, not just activity … by what has changed over these last 12 months … by what difference, great or small, our Alliance Defending Freedom has been able to make this year in the lives of the people we serve.
This month, the civic leaders of Greece, New York, opened their town council meeting with an invocation, freely offered by a volunteer from their community, praying what the Lord laid on that person’s conscience to pray. This time last year, the law said they couldn’t do that. But a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court last spring restored their freedom, and that of other elected officials from Puerto Rico to Alaska – including yours. It also restored one of the oldest and most cherished traditions in American public life.
- AP Photo/Steven Senne
Last week, Eleanor McCullen, nearly 80 years old, stood on a sidewalk right out in front of a Boston Planned Parenthood clinic, offering life and hope and disarming kindness to women approaching that facility with the intention of killing the child in their womb. Some of them listened to her. Perhaps one or two, like dozens of others over the last few months, and hundreds over the last 14 years, listened to her, changed their minds, and spared their babies’ lives.
A year ago, the state of Massachusetts required Eleanor to stand out in the street, dodging trucks, so far from the doors of the abortion facility that she could hardly get anyone’s attention without risking a prison sentence. But last June, the Supreme Court changed that, recognizing and restoring the free speech rights of Eleanor and all those sharing a peaceful, pro-life message.
In 2015, the Hahn family will offer generous pay and extensive health benefits to the 1,000-plus employees of their Conestoga Wood Specialties company. Those benefits will not cover the cost of abortion. A year ago, the federal government said the Hahns would have to pay fines of up to $100,000 a day for running their family-owned business in accord with God’s directive in their lives. But last June, the Supreme Court declared otherwise. Religious freedom, the justices said, still applies to the Christian business owners of America – including those of your community.
In January, Dr. Mike Adams will begin a new semester teaching his highly popular criminal justice classes at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington (UNCW). He will also continue writing his conservative political columns, exposing the outrageous assaults on free speech that are a sad hallmark of academic life on college campuses all over the country.
Now he’ll be doing both of those things as a full professor, after a federal court last April ordered UNCW administrators to stop withholding Dr. Adams’ long overdue promotion, and to pay him thousands of dollars in back pay for denying that promotion out of contempt for his conversion to Christianity, and his expression of his religious and political beliefs. The court’s ruling decisively affirms academic and religious freedom – not only for Dr. Adams, but for countless professors across America, including those teaching your children and grandchildren.
In Houston, five pastors will do what they do so effectively – preach God’s truth from their pulpits, minister his love to the people of their congregations, and serve their neighbors throughout the community, without any concern that city officials will be poring over their emails and sermon notes, looking for ways to punish them for anything they might have said in opposition to the current mayor’s statements and policies. That threat of the last few months has been removed, and the mayor and her minions reminded that religious liberty and freedom of speech are still something sacred in the hearts of their fellow Americans. It’s a victory that secures the freedom of your pastor and church as well.
These are but the most high profile of many legal victories over the last year that our ADF team has been so blessed to be a part of. These are but a few of the lives that are better, going into a new year, than they were a few short months ago. In fact, the lives of you and your own family are better, too … for every victory for life, for marriage and families, or for religious freedom that benefits one American benefits all of us who are blessed to live in this land of liberty.
Thank you for doing your own part to make these crucial wins possible, through your faithful prayers, unwavering encouragement, and generous financial support for the ongoing work of Alliance Defending Freedom in 2014. Jesus Christ is the vine, we are the branches, and without Him we can do nothing (John 15:5). May 2015 see Him bless us with many more opportunities to bear beautiful fruit for His glory and His people.