In less than seven days in office, concerns have started to emerge that the Biden administration is threatening God-given freedoms in the US.
Some groups have even started to appeal for financial support to protect religious freedom in America with a contribution of $20, $50, $100, or more.
They are fueling the fear that one could wake up one day to find the doors of their churches closed or the government threatening pastors with criminal penalties for holding a church service.
‘’This is America. And our nation was founded to protect religious freedom. But then COVID-19 arrived. It affected our communities in ways no one saw coming’’, says Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF).
ADF was founded in 1993 when 35 Christian leaders came together to build a ministry that would defend their religious freedom.. They knew that it would take an alliance to keep the doors open for the Gospel in the US.
Like the Body of Christ, the alliance is one body made up of many parts. Attorneys play different roles than pastors. Business leaders play different roles than legislators. Each person must play his or her particular role, under one shared vision, to ensure that religious freedom thrives.
For more than 25 years, ADF has been advocating for religious liberty, the sanctity of human life, freedom of speech, and marriage and family.
Across the country, government officials are allegedly being put to the test. ‘’Many adopted appropriate regulations designed to protect the health and safety of members of their communities. But some abused their power by targeting places of worship and ministries that collectively serve millions of people in need’’, ADF says.
In America, the government can’t treat churches and people of faith as second-class citizens. The First Amendment makes that clear.
But sadly, too many government officials have done that.
The Biden administration
President Biden promised he will urge state governors to issue new COVID-19 orders if he was elected. According to ADF, ‘’while we don’t know what those orders would be, we do know that Biden has publicly praised Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s handling of the pandemic, even though her COVID-19 orders have been struck down by multiple courts, including the Michigan Supreme Court.’’
The group wants Americans to remain vigilant to stand against any government efforts to unlawfully restrict the rights of churches.
Since the restrictions due to COVID-19 began, ADF has assisted, or equipped others to assist, thousands of churches and ministries.
It is alleging some government officials have continued to discriminate against churches and threaten the free exercise of religion, adding, ‘’the more the government interferes with the affairs of the church, the more at risk your religious freedom becomes.
‘’If churches are treated unfairly by more COVID-19 regulations, it would be a huge burden on Americans of faith during an already difficult time.’’
ADF says that is why it’s standing against any attempt to impose restrictions on most cherished liberties of Americans, pointing out, ‘’we are prepared to provide a winning defense for your religious freedom—all the way to the US Supreme Court if necessary.’’
Generous ministry friends have already given a $50,000 challenge grant to help protect freedom during this critical time. They want to inspire you to join the movement to defend our God-given and constitutionally protected freedoms.
On Wednesday, Joe Biden was inaugurated as the 46th president of the United States. This presents cause for concern, given some of President Biden’s public statements.
President Biden has promised to urge state governors to issue new COVID-19 orders, a power that has been allegedly abused again and again to unlawfully restrict the rights of churches. Churches support appropriate health and safety measures.
However, ADF has vowed to be especially vigilant to protect against the abuse of these orders given President Biden’s praise of Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s handling of the pandemic, even though her COVID-19 orders have been struck down by multiple courts, including the Michigan Supreme Court.
Encouraging state and local leaders to adopt national COVID-19 protocols will just create more opportunities for government officials to overstep their power and violate religious freedom. Just ask many churches across the country.
A Series of First Amendment Violations
All over the US, in response to COVID-19, many public officials overstepped their authority and violated their citizens’ First Amendment right to worship freely. Many of them did so by creating guidelines that treated churches worse than secular businesses.
Perhaps the most blatant example comes from Nevada where the governor prioritized casinos, gyms, and amusement parks over churches. While these secular businesses were allowed to operate at half capacity, churches were only permitted to host a maximum of 50 people.
But despite these challenges, and the new ones that lie ahead, there is hope.
With all the uncertainty that 2020 brought—and that 2021 continues to bring—people of faith need their church communities to help them through and give them hope.
That’s why ADF is ready to stand for religious liberty, especially during the years to come. After all, that’s what we’ve been doing for the past 26 years.
ADF already has much experience helping churches respond to unfair COVID-19 restrictions. In fact, we’ve assisted, or equipped others to assist, over 3,200 churches during the pandemic. And so far, we’ve successfully defended the rights of 15 church and ministry clients.
Here are just a few of the important victories we’ve helped churches achieve since March:
Temple Baptist Church: Greenville, Mississippi – The city of Greenville, Mississippi issued an order that banned drive-in church services, despite the governor’s order allowing such services to continue. Because of the city’s order, attendees of a drive-in service at Temple Baptist Church were given $500 fines! Thankfully, ADF attorneys filed a lawsuit against the city and the City Council responded by waiving the fines, issuing a new order, and lifting the ban on drive-in church services.
Metropolitan Tabernacle Church: Chattanooga, Tennessee – While Chattanooga’s stay-at-home order originally didn’t ban drive-in church services, the city’s mayor proclaimed a ban was in place shortly before Easter. ADF filed a lawsuit on behalf of Metropolitan Tabernacle Church, and the city reversed its position and agreed to allow drive-in services.
First Baptist Church and Calvary Baptist Church in Kansas – Two small, rural churches in Kansas faced many challenges in livestreaming church services. The churches are located in areas that had very few COVID-19 cases, so they decided to meet in-person with rigorous social distancing and safety precautions.
But Kansas’s governor prohibited these services—even though the same restrictions were not applied to retail establishments and office buildings. ADF stepped in and filed a lawsuit. A court granted temporary protections for these churches, and on April 30, the governor announced a new executive order that did not treat religious groups unfairly.
Churches in Wake County, North Carolina – Wake County, North Carolina allowed secular businesses like drive-thru restaurants to remain open, but the county made it illegal for churches to collect in-person tithes and distribute prepackaged communion elements at their drive-in services. ADF attorneys sent a demand letter to the county. The county responded by allowing churches to use prepackaged communion and permitting congregants to drop off tithes.
‘’If churches are treated unfairly by more COVID-19 regulations, it would be a huge burden on Americans of faith during an already difficult time.
‘’The Constitution’s protection of religious liberty is an essential part of our nation’s character. And the First Amendment is not suspended even during a pandemic.
‘’Every generation faces a unique moment when it is called on to protect the guarantee of liberty enshrined in our Constitution. This is our moment. Today, you can help protect the American promises of life and liberty’’, the alliance says.