Guest / Limited Access /

I would like to say a word in defense of the American Civil Liberties Union. Christians—including me, both in the pages of CT and elsewhere—often criticize the ACLU for advocating separation of church and state in ways that seem less grounded in the Constitution and in history than in an ideological desire for a religion-free public arena. On the other hand, I shudder when fellow Christians blithely dismiss the organization as fundamentally biased against them. Some call it the Anti-Christian Liberals Union or the Anti-Christian Litigation Unit. There are other, less friendly acronyms as well. I think the ACLU is wrong to oppose religious expression in the public square, but being wrong is not the same as being evil.

More to the point, the ACLU is often right about the First Amendment's free exercise clause, taking on fights that others refuse. It might surprise some critics that the ACLU defends the free speech and free exercise rights of, well, Christians.

For example, in 2001, the group interceded with a school district in Michigan that had deleted a high school senior's yearbook entry because she included a Bible verse. In 2002, the ACLU filed a brief on behalf of a pastor associated with Operation Rescue who was prevented from participating in a parade because his pro-life poster showed a photograph of an aborted baby. And last September, the organization joined a lawsuit on behalf of a New Jersey second-grader who was not allowed to sing "Awesome God" in a school talent show. (All of these examples are easily accessible on several Web pages now devoted to defending the ACLU 's record on Christianity.)

Yet I must confess that, although I am pleased to balance the record, defending the ACLU is not my primary purpose ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedTime To Rend Marriage? 1 in 4 Pastors Agree with First Things Petition
Time To Rend Marriage? 1 in 4 Pastors Agree with First Things Petition
Magazine argues for splitting civil and Christian marriage. LifeWay examines which Americans agree.
TrendingPope Francis Learns What Rick Warren, Russell Moore, N. T. Wright Think about Marriage
Pope Francis Learns What Rick Warren, Russell Moore, N. T. Wright Think about Marriage
(UPDATED) Warren turns Vatican conference into 'revivalist meeting,' while Moore explains why marriage crosses theological boundaries.
Editor's PickGod’s Defense Attorney
God’s Defense Attorney
Millionaire lawyer Mark Lanier moonlights as a Sunday school teacher.
Comments
Christianity Today
The ACLU Is Not Evil
hide thisMay May

In the Magazine

May 2006

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.