May 13, 2014

WINNING THE CULTURE WARS:

Legal Alliance Gains Host of Court Victories for Conservative Christian Movement (ERIK ECKHOLM, MAY 11, 2014, NY Times)

Alan Sears, who has run the Christian legal group Alliance Defending Freedom since its founding 20 years ago, turned to a picture of Abraham Lincoln in his office here and noted the decades of blood and tears it took to abolish slavery.

"I think there is no question that one day, this country will again recognize that marriage is between a man and a woman," said Mr. Sears, a former top official in the Reagan Justice Department.

The comparison may or may not prove apt, but these are heady days for Alliance Defending Freedom, which, with its $40 million annual budget, 40-plus staff lawyers and hundreds of affiliated lawyers, has emerged as the largest legal force of the religious right, arguing hundreds of pro bono cases across the country. It has helped shift the emphasis of religious freedom enshrined in the Constitution. For decades, courts leaned toward keeping religion out of public spaces. Today, thanks to cases won by the alliance and other legal teams focused on Christian causes, the momentum has tilted toward allowing religious practices with fewer restrictions.

The group last Monday celebrated a major victory in the Supreme Court, where a client, the Town of Greece, N.Y., won the right to open council meetings with mainly Christian prayers.

The alliance awaits the decision in another case that could redefine the boundaries of religious freedom -- the challenge by its client Conestoga Wood Specialties, along with Hobby Lobby, to the provision in the Affordable Care Act requiring companies to cover birth control in employee-funded health plans.
Posted by at May 13, 2014 6:43 PM
  
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