Alliance Defense Fund

Founded by a group of high-profile Religious Right leaders such as D. James Kennedy and James Dobson, the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) sees itself as a counter to the ACLU. As a legal group, it assists and augments the efforts of other right-wing groups to "keep the door open for the spread of the Gospel." The ADF has been active on issues including pushing "marriage protection," exposing the "homosexual agenda" and fighting the supposed "war on Christmas."

Alliance Defense Fund
15333 N. Pima Road - Suite 165
Scottsdale AZ 85260

Founders: Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ; Larry Burkett, founder of Christian Financial Concepts; Rev. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family; Rev. D. James Kennedy, founder of Coral Ridge Ministries; Marlin Maddoux, President of International Christian Media; Don Wildmon, founder of American Family Association; and 25+ other ministries.
Founded: 1994
President and General Counsel: Alan Sears
Officers, Directors, Trustees, and Key Employees: Alan Sears, Wayne N. Swindler, Marv McCarthy
Other Staff: 38 employees
Finances: $15,744,101 (2003 budget)
Major Donors: Bill and Berniece Grewcock Foundation, Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation, Bradley Foundation.

Read the latest news on the Alliance Defense Fund on the group's Right Wing Watch index page

Principal Issues

  • The Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) is a Christian legal firm established by more than 30 Christian ministries to help defend "family values" and work against the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union).
  • ADF defines itself by its ability to strategize and coordinate with lawyers all over the United States. Lawyers who sign up for their "Blackstone Legal Institute" are expected to donate 450 pro bono hours over a three year period.
  • ADF has coordinated more than 750 lawyers and 125 right-wing organizations, and many conservative ministries on behalf of ADF-defined Christian legal issues.
  • ADF claims 25 "victories" before the Supreme Court, including: Boy Scouts of America v. Dale (2000), which allowed the Boy Scouts to fire a Scout Leader due solely to his sexual orientation; United States v. American Library Association (2003), in which the Court voted to allow the federal government to withhold federal funds if libraries did not comply with the filtering called for by the Children's Internet Protection Act of 2000; and Zelman v. Simmons-Harris (2002), upheld Ohio's school voucher system, which allows for parents to send their children to private or religious schools with taxpayer-funded vouchers.
  • ADF has linked more than 125 groups to create a combined effort to fight for their issues. They've brought together attorneys and allied legal groups to help develop a national strategy on controversial social issues, for example they worked with others to develop a national strategy to "protect marriage" across the United States after Vermont's decision to legalize civil unions for gays and lesbians.
  • In addition to organizing lawyers and ministries, ADF also trains and recruits and provides grants to support legal cases as well as pro-bono assistance.
  • ADF also defends the right of Christians to "share the gospel" in workplaces and public schools, claiming that any efforts to curb proselytizing at work and school are anti-Christian.
  • ADF has had success in anti-gay cases all over the US, from Alaska to Massachusetts.


  • Unique to the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) is their collective of high-power founders, including wealthy right-wing organizations such as Dobson's Focus on the Family and D. James Kennedy's Coral Ridge Ministries.
  • The ADF embodies the beliefs of its founders, harnessing the efforts of a cadre of right-wing groups with hundreds of millions of dollars at their disposal. All of these groups are influential members of the Right; they are pro-life and anti-gay, and their ultimate goal is to see the law and U.S. government enshrined with conservative Christian principles.
  • The relationship between ADF and it's founders is one of mutual self-interest; ADF has access to the resources and networking of large organizations, who in turn are equipped with an endless supply of readily-available lawyers.
  • ADF's strength goes beyond their budget due to their influence with well-funded religious-right groups.
  • Two issues common to each of ADF's founders are their work against the right to abortion, and against the civil rights/liberties of gays and lesbians. They are particularly persistent in attacking attempts by homosexuals to have families, establish domestic partnerships or civil unions, or to be protected from discrimination in employment or housing.

Alan Sears' Background

Alan Sears was the Executive Director of the Attorney General's Commission on Pornography under President Ronald Reagan. Sears was a federal prosecutor for former Secretary of Interior Don Hodel (former Christian Coalition President), and has produced several anti-gay works, such as The Homosexual Agenda in paperback, and Exposing the Homosexual Agenda on broadcast cassette.


"The Alliance Defense Fund is a servant organization that provides the resources that will keep the door open for the spread of the Gospel through the legal defense and advocacy of religious freedom, the sanctity of human life, and traditional family values."
– The Alliance Defense Fund website, February 2006

Updated: August 2006

Filed Under