KNOW YOUR ENEMIES: The 5 Foes of Your Religious Liberty

February 19, 2015

From courtrooms to classrooms, these hostile, anti-religion organizations are after your freedom


Ancient Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu once said: “Know your enemy and know yourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster.”

When it comes to the battle for religious freedom, knowing our enemies means knowing their goal:  a new secular America where religious freedom—and thus religious influence—is removed. Powerful organizations are spending millions to destroy your religious liberty, and they’re using the legal system to assail your religious liberty from one corner of America to another.

Here is a roster of some of the most dangerous private opponents of religious freedom:


Cranford, New Jersey

Annual Budget:  $2.1 million

Founded in 1963 by the notorious Madelyn Murray O’Hair, American Atheists strive for “complete and absolute separation of church and state” and the eradication of religious influence in government. AA has filed numerous lawsuits against crosses, Ten Commandments displays, religion in the U.S. military and schools. In addition to legal action, they erect anti-Christian billboards, operate a national network of local chapters, hold conventions and demonstrations, and have their own TV channel.

American Atheists filed a lawsuit against the Ten Commandments monument on the Oklahoma capitol grounds. Read more about First Liberty Institute’s defense of this 6-foot display of historic principles that are an important component of the foundation of the state’s and our nation’s laws and legal system.


New York, New York

Annual Budget: $120 million

The largest and most sweeping private opponent of traditional people of faith today, the ACLU was founded in 1920 by Soviet sympathizer, Roger Baldwin, and has 100 staff and more than 2,000 volunteer attorneys across the country. Though giving token support to religious liberty, the ACLU’s overall record includes legal attacks on school prayer, Bible reading, religious clubs, and study about the Bible; prayer at public gatherings; Ten Commandments memorials; pro-life activity; veterans memorials with crosses; and family businesses trying to operate according to their faith.

The ACLU brought a lawsuit claiming the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial cross violates the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause. Read more about First Liberty Institute’s defense of a traditional symbol of selfless service and sacrifice that honors soldiers of all faiths who have honorably served their country.




Washington, D.C.

Annual Budget: $3 million

American Humanist Association seeks to purge religious influence on America, conducting mass media campaigns attacking faith in God. Since 2006, AHA’s Appagnani Legal Center has sued to remove crosses and religious imagery, stop prayer, and attack “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. AHA has its own publication, conventions, and state chapters.

Nearly a year ago, American Humanist Association filed a lawsuit challenging the “under God” phrasing in the Pledge of Allegiance. Read more about the recent victory in this legal matter and how First Liberty Institute defended the wording that United States courts repeatedly describe as constitutional.


Washington, D.C.

Annual Budget: $5.8 million

Launched in 1947, Americans United for Separation of Church and State has aggressively launched legal, media, and legislative attacks on virtually any contact between religion and government. They have worked to ban “God” from graduation speeches, shut down the activity of prison ministries, outlaw school vouchers allowing parents to send children to religious schools, and tear down veterans memorials. They also constantly lobby Congress and threaten religious activity in local communities.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State filed a lawsuit against the city of King, North Carolina alleging a veterans memorial statue violates the U.S. and North Carolina Constitutions.  Read more about First Liberty Institute’s defense of the King, NC veterans memorial and how our client, The American Legion, intervened in this case.





Madison, Wisconsin

Annual Budget: $3.1 million

FFRF sends more than 1,000 letters annually to smaller cities, school districts, and other governmental bodies in a campaign to eradicate all public acknowledgement of God. Although their letters almost never result in an actual lawsuit, and they are almost always wrong about the law, they often win by sheer intimidation. They have 20,000 members in all 50 states, a radio show, a public relations arm, and an outreach to youth.

Of course, these organizations are joined by institutions within the U.S. government such as the IRS, Department of Justice, Department of Health and Human Services, and the White House. They are also joined by state and local officials and, increasingly, large corporations that also violate lawful religious liberty.

Freedom From Religion Foundation attacked Mt. Vernon Independent School District over allegations of “overtly promoting religion.” Read more about First Liberty Institute’s defense of this  school district.


The “5 Foes of Religious Liberty” have a war chest of more than $125 million per year; governments and giant corporations have virtually bottomless budgets. Yet First Liberty Institute has an over 90 percent win rate against such opposition. A sample of our victories includes the following:

  • Defeated Americans United for Separation of Church and State when it tried to censor God from graduation.  We won a massive federal appeals court precedent.
  •  Defeated the ACLU at the U.S. Supreme Courtwhen the ACLU tried to tear down the Mojave Desert Veterans Memorial Cross.
  • Defeated Freedom From Religion Foundation multiple times, including protecting then Governor Rick Perry’s right to participate in a public prayer rally.

Thanks to your ongoing financial and prayer support, First Liberty Institute has defeated all these foes of religious freedom—and you are part of each victory!

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About First Liberty Institute
First Liberty Institute is a nonprofit legal group dedicated to defending and restoring religious liberty across America — in our schools, for our churches, in the military and throughout the public arena. Liberty’s vision is to reestablish religious liberty in accordance with the principles of our nation’s Founders. For information, visit

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