Alliance Defending Freedom

Alliance Defending Freedom Legal Counsel Greg Chafuen says that parents have the right and responsibility to guide their children’s upbringing and education, including religious instruction, which Chaufuen says is “an important part of their child’s education” for many people.

Chaufen made the statement on Alliance Defending Freedom Media in response to Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb’s signing of HB 1137 on Wednesday. The bill strengthens an existing statute protecting the right of parents to have their child briefly excused from public school to receive religious instruction if they so choose.

Protecting the religious rights of students both at the K-12 and University level is a core issue that Alliance Defending Freedom has vigorously litigated in courts across the nation. ADF has achieved several landmark cases upholding these First Amendment freedoms for students.

The 1995 case Rosenberger v. Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia was a major victory for free speech. The Court ruled that the University’s denial of funding to a Christian student newspaper while providing funding to other student publications violated the students’ free speech rights and constituted illegal viewpoint discrimination. Religious student groups are entitled to equal access to funding and benefits on public campuses. Alliance Defending Freedom filed an amicus brief supporting the newspaper.

In 2011’s Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization v. Winn, the Supreme Court handed down a huge win for proponents of parental choice in education. The Court ruled 5-4 to uphold an Arizona program that allows state residents to claim a tax credit for donations to private organizations providing scholarships to private schools, including religious schools. Alliance Defending Freedom represented the Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization and successfully argued that objecting taxpayers did not have legal standing to challenge someone else’s private donations.

More recently, in 2023, Alliance Defending Freedom secured a settlement in L.B. v. Simpson County School District after representing a third-grade student named Lydia Booth, who was prohibited from wearing a face mask that said “Jesus Loves Me.” As a result of the lawsuit, the Mississippi school district changed its unconstitutional policy prohibiting religious expression on masks and agreed to pay $45,000 while allowing Lydia to wear her “Jesus Loves Me” mask if she so chooses.

What is Alliance Defending Freedom?

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, parental rights, marriage and family, and the sanctity of life.

As part of its mission, Alliance Defending Freedom operates two distinct initiatives –Alliance Defending Freedom Church Alliance and Alliance Defending Freedom Ministry Alliance, which provide specialized legal defense services tailored for churches, ministries, and other faith-based organizations. These alliances equip religious entities with legal support to address potential challenges that could hinder their ability to freely operate according to their sincerely held beliefs.

In his statement on Indiana’s “Release for Religious Instruction Bill,” Chaufen said, “While public schools can teach about the Bible from a neutral, secular perspective, released time programs offer courses in religious instruction taught by third-party charitable organizations off school grounds during school hours. These programs accommodate parents’ desire for their children to receive religious instruction that cannot be offered by public schools.”

“The legislation Gov. Holcomb has signed strengthens existing law through a meaningful modification that ensures public schools will respect parents’ opportunity to have their children participate in ‘release time’ programs. Every Hoosier should know that the law respects their right to seek religious education for their children through released time programs. We commend the Indiana Legislature and the governor for making sure parents are in the driver’s seat to direct the upbringing and education of their kids,” he added.

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