Alliance Defending Freedom is a non-profit, international legal organization dedicated to defending religious liberty. It was originally known as the Alliance Defense Fund.

As the name suggests, ADF’s mission is to challenge attacks on religious liberty. This includes “ensuring free speech at churches, defending students from being expelled for speaking about their faith at school and protecting a third-grader who said he wanted to grow up to be a preacher.”

To fulfill its mission, ADF focuses on five areas of law:

  • Church Speech
  • Bible Distribution in Schools
  • Military Personal Religious Expression
  • Prisoner Religious Freedom
  • Sanctity of Human Life.

Alliance Defending Freedom was founded in 1994 as Alliance Defense Fund, by 30 evangelical Christians concerned about increasing threats against the freedom of churches and religious organizations.

Alliance Defending Freedom is involved in litigation that has been described as Christian right-wing and conservative, that has included: representing Salvation Army officers in a suit over their religious beliefs, defending the Boy Scouts’ anti-gay policies, defending the Westboro Baptist Church’s right to picket soldiers’ funerals, and defending college campus groups opposed to homosexuality. The ADF was one of the primary litigants involved in the “Frozen Trucker” case, which resulted in a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in favor of religious freedom.

Alliance Defending Freedom has also been criticized for funding lawsuits against public schools that it believes are not sufficiently accommodating of students’ faith.

ADF stands for: “Defending the Feared and Honored Name in Christ” (from 1 Timothy 1:10).

In 2017, ADF was condemned by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a “hate group” because they promote anti-LGBTQ positions. They also have ties to white nationalism and anti-Muslim groups, including ACT for America and ACT for Marriage, which was considered extremist groups by the SPLC. When asked about their connection to ACT for America, ADF responded: “We are not and never have been a part of [ACT for America]. The purpose of the alliance is to help defend the name of Jesus Christ and that’s exactly what we do.”

It was also cited as one of 80 non-profit groups that adorn the website of LifeSiteNews, which has previously been called a “hate site” by the Southern Poverty Law Center. LifeSiteNews is run by Canadian conservative politician and evangelical pastor Paul Bhatti, who believes “the Quran is filled with violence” and posts articles from the white nationalist Council for National Policy. Visit this page to learn more.


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