Article Dec 15, 2017

Is Your Church Prepared to Handle a Challenge to its Religious Liberty?

Editor’s Note: We wanted to let you know about this really important new initiative from our friends at Alliance Defending Freedom. We are grateful for the way they come alongside churches and ministries to help defend and protect religious liberty.

“The team at Alliance Defending Freedom have consistently proven themselves to be the kind of convictional and talented advocates that Christians and churches are in need of today,” says ERLC President Russell Moore. “I have no doubt that Church Alliance will benefit ministries across the country by establishing such a partnership between local churches and attorneys committed to safeguarding our most fundamental liberties.”


What would you do if a situation arose in your church that directly threatened the religious liberty of the church?  Would you know what steps to take to proactively protect your church’s religious liberty?  If someone filed a lawsuit against your church simply for exercising your religious beliefs, would you know how best to defend against it?

Churches face an increasingly difficult culture and some have even found themselves in the middle of legal situations where the religious liberty of the church hangs in the balance.  At the time I am writing this article, Alliance Defending Freedom is assisting over fifty different churches on religious liberty issues that have the potential to turn into litigation.  And we currently have over a dozen cases in or close to litigation where we are working to defend the constitutional rights of churches.  These are churches from across the country.  They are big and small in size and from all denominations and theological tribes. The fact situations in all these cases are varied, showing that religious liberty issues can arise in unexpected places. And this is just one snapshot in time.

As an attorney who has litigated on behalf of churches and pastors for the last ten years, and has litigated religious liberty cases for the past eighteen years, I can say without hesitation that churches need legal help in today’s world to protect their religious liberty.  It is not a matter of if churches will face legal challenges to their religious liberty but rather where and when.

It is not a matter of if churches will face legal challenges to their religious liberty but rather where and when.

These times call for creative new initiatives to respond to a dynamic and challenging legal system. Seeing a need to reassess the Church’s role in stewarding religious freedom, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) recently launched a new project called the Church Alliance. Through the Church Alliance, ADF is able to offer direct and focused legal help to churches to protect their religious liberty Given today’s context, membership in this alliance of churches is well worth the consideration and deliberation of your church leadership.

Here are five reasons we have launched the Church Alliance:

1. Americans are losing sight of the importance of religious liberty. Many who reject the beliefs of Christians consider adherence to biblical teaching to be a mask for “discrimination” or some other darker motive. The culture is asking religious freedom to take a backseat to sexual autonomy. In some cases, especially when the Gospel is in direct opposition to the culture, our first freedom is being told to take a hike. Those who advocate for sexual liberty believe that if they bring enough social and even legal pressure to bear on the Church, that the Church will abandon its “discriminatory” ways and become truly affirming and tolerant.  For many in this camp, bringing a legal challenge against a church requires no more thought than suing a secular business.

2. Over the last few years, ERLC and ADF have partnered to distribute the Protecting Your Ministry legal guide to thousands of churches across the country. Many churches have requested help to review their documents to make sure they are protected from a religious liberty standpoint. Now, among other services, the Church Alliance is offering member churches a religious freedom audit and document review. Our ministry of preparation and protection is affordable due to the generous contributions of believers across the country.

3. The Church Alliance isn’t just preparing churches for the cultural issues that we see in the news. Although it was largely created for this shift in the legal landscape, it is also helping with less-spotlighted practical legal matters that involve the religious freedom of churches. Whether it’s purchasing land for a new building, helping plant a church, starting a new ministry, requesting access to government property, or a host of other routine church matters, religious freedom experts are now coming alongside church boards and pastors to help you navigate potential pitfalls.

4. The Church Alliance program is working to ensure that churches remain free to preach the full counsel of God’s Word, without fear of government interference or inhibition. The heartbeat of the program is to work to keep the legal doors open for the Gospel so that it can be proclaimed freely and lived out fully.  Let us help you as you are bold in your ministry context.

5. The Church Alliance is for the protection of all churches. While church leaders may consider joining the Church Alliance purely for the services we offer their churches, those who join are stewarding religious freedom in a much broader sense. What we have seen time and time again is that what happens to one church affects all churches, and joining this alliance allows ADF the opportunity to respond.

Christians in every American generation have valued religious freedom and even served as stewards of that freedom. They have kept the government accountable and ensured that our first freedom is properly understood as a God-given right.

Pastors and churches in particular have helped secure the freedom that we have enjoyed since our country’s founding. The Church Alliance is a continuation of this long-held tradition of the Church. But it is also the beginning of a new era of religious freedom protection, launched from an obvious and growing need.

Consider making this program an agenda item for your church’s next board meeting. We ask churches like yours to join us in this mission and be the stewards that we are called to be. For religious freedom – for the Church – for the Gospel.

Learn more, request additional information, or become a member at www.ADFChurchAlliance.org.

2019 Evangelicals for Life