Who We Serve ADF Clients & Work

ADF advocates for every person’s fundamental freedoms of speech, religion, and conscience.

ADF advocates for every person’s fundamental freedoms of speech, religion, and conscience. ADF has defended the rights of Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and people of no faith. We’ve won free speech victories on college campuses protecting students of varied religious faiths, as well as libertarian, conservative, pro-life, pro-conservationist, and LGBT students. Internationally, we’ve worked to stop violent persecution of Christians, Yazidis, Shia Muslims, and other religious minorities. Here is a snapshot of some of our work:

Brian Hickman

Brian Hickman has a bright smile and loves to dance. He never lets his cerebral palsy keep him down.

So when Brian’s Los Angeles elementary school put on a talent show, Brian knew what to do. For weeks, a church music team had been teaching Brian a dance to the song “We Shine.” Excited to show what he had learned, Brian performed the dance at his school’s auditions. But school officials refused to let Brian dance at the talent show because his song was “too religious,” even though other songs that celebrate love, passion, and dance were just fine. Within hours of ADF filing suit, the school changed course and permitted Brian’s performance. The suit ended with a change in school policy that protects the free-speech rights of students of all faiths during student activities.

Chandra Digal

Chandra was one of more than 50,000 people displaced during the violence against Christians in the Eastern Indian state of Odisha in 2008.

As an armed mob of extremists approached her house to attack her, she ran for her life and hid in the nearby jungle. The mob ransacked her house and burnt it to the ground. Chandra and her family were left with nothing. To seek justice for Chandra and prevent further attacks against religious minorities, ADF allied lawyers helped Chandra file a case against her attackers and apply for compensation from the state for its failure to protect her. Working with prosecutors and ADF allied lawyers, Chandra testified against members of the mob, and many were successfully convicted. Chandra and other Christians also received compensation for the injustice they had suffered. After further legal battles, the state recently doubled the compensation it had initially paid to victims.

Blayne Wittig

Blayne Wittig knows what it’s like to be young and pregnant.

She walked into a college health clinic at age 19 thinking she had the flu and walked out with a referral for an abortion—the only option a nurse gave her. For years, Blayne wished she had gone somewhere that presented all of her choices and offered her support even if she chose life.  That’s one reason why Blayne became the Executive Director of Options for Women, a religious non-profit pregnancy center in California’s East Bay area. But California passed a law that forced Blayne’s center to advertise the state’s free or low-cost abortion services, contrary to everything Blayne believes in and her center promotes. Blayne turned to ADF for help. ADF won Blayne’s case at the U.S. Supreme Court, which reaffirmed that no one should be forced by the government to express a message that violates their deepest convictions, a principle that protects all speakers, no matter their beliefs or views.

Religious minorities in the Middle East

For several years, ADF International strategically engaged in efforts to end the ISIS genocide of Christians and other religious minorities and bring the perpetrators to justice.

We’ve sought justice for people like Sefania and Badria, women in their 80s whom ISIS beat, tortured, and humiliated for years, as well as Ismael, whom ISIS imprisoned at age 14, threatened with death, and forced to live like a slave — all while he tried to care for his sick mother, imprisoned alongside him. Our advocacy team, in partnership with ADF allies, played a key role in persuading major international institutions—including the European Parliament and the Council of Europe—as well as the United States government and British Parliament, to formally recognize the genocide and call upon the United Nations (UN) to take action. ADF International then worked for over a year with multiple Members of the UN Security Council to help devise and implement a strategy to establish an international tribunal to prosecute those who carried out the genocide. In September 2017, the Security Council established the Investigative Team that will assist the Iraqi government with collecting and preserving evidence of ISIS’s crimes and preparing pre-trial briefs for prosecutions in Iraqi courts. The creation of this investigative body was an essential step in ensuring justice for the victims of ISIS. Our team has also taken multiple trips to the Middle East to meet with genocide victims and their families to document their testimonies and share their stories with key international institutions.

Jack Phillips and Masterpiece Cakeshop

Jack Phillips combined his passion for art and baking by opening up Masterpiece Cakeshop.

He became a respected cake artist, known for his beautiful and innovative custom cakes. Jack is happy to create original cake designs for everyone, including LGBT customers. But Jack cannot design and create a custom cake that expresses messages or celebrates events that violate his conscience. This includes custom cakes that celebrate Halloween or divorce, or that promote racist, anti-American, vulgar, or anti-LGBT messages. Jack welcomes anyone into his shop no matter their background. And he sells pre-made baked goods to anyone for any purpose—even same-sex weddings. Yet Colorado sought to force Jack to sketch, sculpt, and paint a custom cake celebrating a same-sex wedding, something that violates his deeply held convictions about marriage. ADF defended Jack and secured a 7-2 victory at the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court wiped away the state’s attempt to punish Jack because its officials treated him worse than other cake artists and acted with “impermissible hostility” toward his faith.

Norvilia Etienne

Norvilia Etienne, a student at Queens College in New York, is passionate about many things, including the pro-life cause.

She believes that young women need alternatives to abortion. This is also a personal issue for her. Norvilia’s mother considered aborting her soon after becoming pregnant. And now, Norvilia wants to do all she can to help other women choose life for themselves and their babies. Norvilia organized a Students for Life club at her college so that women would have the moral and material support necessary to choose life, just like her mom did. But even though Queens College gave registered status to over 100 student groups—including pro-abortion clubs—it refused to recognize Students for Life. After ADF filed suit, the college granted Norvilia’s group recognition and changed its policies so that no student clubs could be exiled from campus life simply because of their viewpoint.

Esteban Carrasco

Pastor Esteban Carrasco and his church saw deep hurt and need in their city of Southbridge, Massachusetts.

Instead of sitting back, they decided to proactively serve and love their community. They planned to open a women’s shelter for victims of domestic violence – giving them a safe place to live, heal, and restore their lives. For Esteban and his wife, serving victims of domestic abuse is both a religious calling and a deeply personal issue. His wife’s grandmother was a survivor of domestic abuse, and they planned to name the shelter after her. But Massachusetts officials had other ideas. They announced that churches must comply with a state public accommodations law that required them to allow biological males who identify as female to use the same changing rooms, restrooms, and living facilities as these vulnerable women. ADF sued Massachusetts officials on behalf of four churches, including Pastor Esteban’s. The state backed down and changed its policies, ensuring that all houses of worship, regardless of faith, can serve their communities without having to abandon their deepest convictions.

Clyde and Ann Reed

Clyde and Ann Reed have planted churches for decades.

Before Clyde began his ministry, he was an engineer.  At age 40, Clyde went to seminary, and the Reeds have been serving people in the community ever since. After Clyde “retired” in his mid-70s, he and Anne started a small church in Arizona that focused on ministering to the elderly through encouragement, prayer, parties, grief counseling, and services every Sunday. They brought joy to seniors in hospitals, assisted living, Alzheimer’s centers, and more. But the Reeds didn’t have a permanent building for their church, so they depended on signs to point the way to their weekly services. The Town of Gilbert made it nearly impossible to find the services by imposing strict limits on signs inviting people to their temporary meeting place. Although the Town permitted political signs to be quite large and to stay up for months, the Reeds’ signs had to be small, put up in the dark, and removed right after services finished. After eight years of litigation, every Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the Reeds’ favor. The Court rejected the Town’s argument that it could subject religious speech to stricter regulations because the Church’s religious message was less valuable than other speech. The case set an important precedent that protects the free speech rights of people of all faiths—and of no faith at all.

Unborn Girls in India

50,000 babies are aborted every month in India for one reason: they are girls.

For every 1,000 boys born in India, there are only 918 girls. The ADF India office launched the Vanishing Girls campaign to raise awareness of the practice of sex-selective abortion and to call for increased legal protection for India’s unborn baby girls. ADF India also works to improve the way women and girls are treated in homes and families, including protection from violence after they’re born.

Cathy DeCarlo

Cathy DeCarlo became a nurse to save lives, not take them.

When she was hired, Cathy asked her supervisors to ensure that she would not need to participate in abortions. They assured her that they would accommodate her request as required by federal law. But five years later, Cathy prepared for a common procedure following a miscarriage, only to discover that the procedure was going to be performed on a live pre-born baby at 22 weeks. Horrified, Cathy immediately asked to be excused, but hospital officials refused. In tears, Cathy reminded a supervisor about her accommodation. She also pointed out that the surgery was labeled a Category II, meaning it could take place anytime over the next six hours – plenty of time to call another nurse. But the supervisor insisted that she participate in the abortion. If Cathy didn’t assist, she would be charged with insubordination and abandoning her patient. Her career would be over. Cathy watched in horror as a doctor dismembered and removed the baby’s limbs, and then Cathy was forced to count all the pieces. With the help of ADF, Cathy filed complaints against her supervisors for forcing her to violate her faith. After an investigation, Mount Sinai Hospital changed its abortion policies to respect all medical personnel who believe that every human life has worth and meaning. Cathy still has nightmares about her horrific experience, but she can rest assured that because of her stand, many other pro-life nurses won’t have to go through what she did.

We don’t expect everyone to agree with all our work. But ADF seeks to cultivate a society defined by respect and tolerance for different views, the free exchange of ideas, and robust debate.

The best way to do that is to ensure that our constitutional freedoms extend to all people, no matter their faith, views, or background. By doing so, every person’s freedoms of speech, religion, and conscience are honored.