It’s not as “glamorous” or exciting as a showdown in the courtroom, but often the most effective thing our Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys do in their ongoing fight to preserve your family’s religious freedom is “simply” write a letter. A letter, of course, backed up by years of frontline experience on the legal battlefield, made possible by your encouragement and support.
As it turns out, not everyone who opposes religious liberty or tries to silence the free expression of faith is a hard-nosed opponent with an unswerving agenda. Many, many people in positions of authority all over our country are genuinely uninformed when it comes to the Constitution and its clear legal protections … making them easy prey for the intimidations of those like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) who like to browbeat them with ominous threats and “separation of church and state” propaganda.
A great many of these people, reminded of what the Constitution’s Bill of Rights actually says, find the courage and confidence to stand up to these intimidations, and allow free discourse to continue.
That’s often especially the case with school officials. In Ventura, California, for instance, a local school forbade its booster club from selling anything donated by Chick-Fil-A, in response to the restaurant chain’s “political stance on gay rights.” (Chick-fil-A President Dan T. Cathy’s 2012 public affirmation of marriage as the union of one man and one woman made him a pariah and the poster child for intolerance in the eyes of those pressing the same-sex political agenda.)
Ventura Unified School District officials backed up the high school administrators, saying they “value inclusivity and diversity on campus and all of our events and activities are going to adhere to our mission.” (“Inclusivity and diversity” apparently don’t allow for people who believe in biblical marriage.)
So, our ADF attorneys sent the district a letter explaining that they didn’t have a (chicken) leg to stand on. Such discrimination – even in the name of “inclusivity” – is unconstitutional and a violation of federal law. “The First Amendment clearly protects Chick-fil-A from retaliation based upon its protected religious speech,” the letter reads, in part. “Accordingly, school districts cannot deny Chick-fil-A the same opportunities to support the school through donations or give-a-ways – or even to sell its products at school events – as are given to other local businesses.”
Earlier this month, ADF attorneys sent a different kind of letter to North Carolina school districts correcting the misleading information contained in another letter they’d recently received from Americans United for Separation of Church. The AU letter urged them to disregard a new state law protecting the freedom of school employees to participate in student-led religious expression outside of school hours. Our ADF letter quickly refuted that.
“Courts have repeatedly held that a school’s faculty and staff have certain constitutional rights to engage and participate in religious expression before and after their contracted work times without violating the Establishment Clause,” our letter said, adding, “Given the importance of keeping students safe and maintaining order during any school activities involving students, it is often necessary for school staff to be present even when student religious expression occurs … under such circumstances, nothing forbids teachers from respecting student-initiated, student-led prayer by bowing their heads.”
The North Carolina Family Policy Council and North Carolina Values Coalition added their signatures to that ADF letter, which underscores another point about these legal epistles: they are often an excellent means of flexing the muscle (and collective impact) of the “alliance” aspect of Alliance Defending Freedom.
For instance, ADF recently joined with other members of the Restore Military Religious Freedom Coalition in composing a letter to Secretary of Defense Charles T. Hagel and Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus regarding Navy policy on Gideon Bibles in Navy lodges. The Navy Exchange Service has needlessly agreed to remove Bibles from guest rooms in hotels and lodges on Navy bases, after the Freedom from Religion Foundation complained that allowing groups like Gideons International, a Christian organization, to place Bibles in guest rooms violates the First Amendment.
The letter we sent with the Coalition debunks this claim, encouraging the Navy to reverse sails on its decision instead of surrendering to the atheist group’s unfounded legal threats and inaccurate demands.
“No court in the country has ever issued a ruling that government-run guest facilities allowing Bibles to be placed in their rooms violate the First Amendment,” the letter explains, adding “the Establishment Clause allows for private individuals and groups, like the Gideons, to place Bibles at their own expense on government property.”
Sometimes, “a word to the wise” can make all the difference – and save a great deal of time and money that might otherwise have to be spent on litigation. Please be in prayer for our attorneys as they put accurate legal information in writing on behalf of our clients, finding the right words to educate, encourage, remind, and confront those who are suppressing the freedoms of you and your family. Thank you for making all of this possible.