2012 Victories: Protecting Churches

church acljMATTHEW CLARK, ACLJ

This is the latest installment in a year-end series looking back at a few of the hundreds of victories by the ACLJ in 2012.

This year churches have suffered significant threats from government intrusion both internationally and even here in the United States.

It goes without saying that churches must be free to select not only their leaders, pastors, priests, etc., but also their employees based on their beliefs and willingness to hold true to the religious principles of the church. It goes without saying, but a lawsuit challenging this right of churches went all the way to the Supreme Court. The ACLJ filed an amicus brief defending the right of churches to determine who will carry out its mission. The Supreme Court agreed, unanimously holding that the Constitution protects the “interest of religious groups in choosing who will preach their beliefs, teach their faith, and carry out their mission.” This important decision stands for the proposition that courts should not intervene in the workings of churches.

In another situation, a church had been brutally targeted by thieves and vandals for two years, yet the local police department refused to provide any assistance because of the so-called “separation of church and state.” The ACLJ quickly got involved informing the locality that churches must enjoy the same protection as other citizens in the community. The police department quickly reacted, changing its policy, and providing needed protection for the abused church.

Internationally, churches are often the target of not only government intrusion but costly false prosecutions. In Russia, prosecutors were allowed to file countless frivolous lawsuits against churches, forcing what were often small, poorly funded churches to repeatedly bear significant legal costs and even face being disbanded by the government. The ACLJ’s international affiliate in Russia, the Slavic Centre for Law and Justice, won a significant legal victory at the Constitutional Court of Russia defending the rights of churches.

Each of these religious liberty victories help ensure the rights of all churches are protected from government intrusion.

To help the ACLJ continue to have the resources we need to make these victories possible and continue these fights, please consider making a tax-deductible donation to the ACLJ through our year-end Matching Challenge. Your gift will be matched dollar-for-dollar though the end of the year.

You can read more in the ACLJ’s 2012 Victories series here.


Matthew Clark is an associate counsel with the ACLJ in Media and Government Affairs.


Used with the permission of the ACLJ.