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Last updated on: 12/14/2017 1:28:04 PM PST
Is the ACLU Anti-Religion?



PRO (yes)

J. Matt Barber, JD, MA, former Associate Dean for Online Programs at Liberty University, in a Mar. 24, 2011 article for American Thinker titled "ACLU v. Religious Liberty," wrote:

"[F]ew leftist organizations in existence today can compete with the ACLU in terms of demonstrated hostility toward what the Declaration of Independence describes as 'certain unalienable rights' with which Americans are 'endowed by their Creator'...

To be sure, the 'main function of the ACLU' is entirely counter-constitutional. A shared objective between both Communism generally, and the ACLU specifically is the suppression of religious liberty; principally, the free exercise of Christianity...

The ACLU remains one of America's most powerful secular-socialist political pressure groups. It relentlessly tramples underfoot the First Amendment, which guarantees sweeping and absolute liberty for all Americans - including government employees - to freely exercise their faith both publicly and privately without fear of reprisal."

Mar. 24, 2011 - J. Matt Barber, JD, MA 



The Alliance Defense Fund's (ADF) National Media Relations Manager, Greg Scott, provided to ProCon.org a document compiled by Craig Osten, ADF's Vice-President of Presidential Communications and Research, titled "The American Civil Liberties Union - The Number One Religious Censor in America Today," in an Aug. 8, 2006 email:

"The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is the number one religious censor in America today. Despite their claim to be a great defender of religious freedom, they actively seek, through a continued war of fear, intimidation, and disinformation to bully public officials into suppressing any public expression of religious faith. In addition, they use legal and political means to force many Americans to violate their own core religious beliefs."

Aug. 8, 2006 - Alliance Defense Fund: The American Civil Liberties Union The Number One Religious Censor in America Today (1 MB)  



Don Feder, JD, media consultant, wrote in his June 14, 2001 article for TownHall.com, "ACLU on a Godless Quest":

"The American Civil Liberties Union is on a mission - but not from God. It's goal: to obliterate evidence of America's religious heritage."

June 14, 2001 - Don Feder, JD 



Michael Novak, Director at the American Enterprise Institute, wrote in his July 12, 2002 column for the National Review Online, "The Atheist Civil-Liberty Union?":

"The American Civil Liberties Union has a public agenda, and that agenda appears to be this: to make the United States in all her public manifestations reflect an atheist's view of the nation's Founding and continuing existence.

[T]he ACLU's... calls for the elimination of 'In God We Trust' from our coins... 'Under God' must also be torn from the Pledge of Allegiance. The Commandments given Moses must never appear as public symbols under government auspices."

July 12, 2002 - Michael Novak 



Alan Sears, JD, President, CEO and General Counsel of the Alliance Defense Fund, wrote in a Jan. 25, 2006 article titled "Court Nixes ACLU's Ten Commandments Tirade," published on the Crosswalk website:

"[T]he ACLU, with its increasingly paranoid determination to eradicate every trace of religion from America's history, culture, community, and discourse, has become all but unhinged with furthering its agenda of official atheism... For more than half a century, the ACLU has been so adamant in their insistence on their interpretation of the 'wall of separation between church and state' that all too many Americans believe those very words are constitutional bedrock. They aren't...

To their minds, religion (and especially the traditional Christian faith) will always be something that contaminates American culture - corrupting our laws, rather than undergirding and informing them. They will always see God as a threat to human freedom, and those who believe in Him as a danger to the ACLU's own thoroughly humanistic agenda."

Jan. 25, 2006 - Alan Sears, JD 



Ken McElroy, blogger at Ken McElroy Online, wrote in his Oct. 20, 2001 article published by the American Federalist Journal, titled "God Bless the ACLU":

"Organizations should be judged by their actions, not by their words. Often, high-minded rhetoric is cover for more nefarious goals. This needs to be remembered when organizations such as the ACLU tell us that they're protecting the Constitution, when in fact their real aim is to remove any vestige of America's religious traditions from our public life."

Oct. 20, 2001 - Ken McElroy 



CON (no)

Sheila Suess Kennedy, JD, Professor and Director of Public Affairs Programs in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, in an Oct. 17, 2017 email to ProCon.org, wrote:

"No. The ACLU is pro-religious-liberty, as that liberty is understood in our constitutional system. The First Amendment has two religion clauses: the Establishment Clause prohibits government from 'establishing' (that is, sponsoring, endorsing or otherwise favoring) one religion over others, religion over non-religion, or non-religion over religion. The Free Exercise Clause prohibits government from interfering with the religious 'exercise' (the beliefs or otherwise lawful practices) of individuals. We call the operation of these two clauses 'separation of church and state,' because they were intended to give individual citizens the right to decide for themselves what to believe.

What many people don't understand is that the First Amendment's religion clauses - and the other provisions of the Bill of Rights - only restrict government actions. The Bill of Rights is essentially a list of things that government is forbidden to do, and one of those things is favoring or disfavoring either religion or non-religion. The First Amendment requires government neutrality in matters of faith; government should neither benefit nor burden the practice of religion. Far from being hostile to religion, the ACLU frequently represents religious groups or individuals whose religious beliefs or observances have been the target of government interference."

Oct. 17, 2017 - Sheila Suess Kennedy, JD 



The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), in their "Briefing Paper Number 3 - Church and State," available from lectlaw.com (accessed Nov. 22, 2017) stated:

"Over the years, the ACLU has earned a reputation as the nation's foremost protector of the rights of individuals to practice their religion, as well as the chief opponent of both state aid to religion and enforcement of any religious belief by law. We support the separation of church and state for the same reason the founders of our country did: to promote and protect religious freedom by keeping the government out...

We believe that the place for religious displays, as with religious events and practices, is in the private sector - the home, the religious day school, or each person's place of worship. Moreover, spirituality is undermined and religious symbols are trivialized when they are secularized in order to permit government endorsement."

Nov. 22, 2017 - American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) 



The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), in the FAQs section of their website wrote in response to the question "Is the ACLU Against Religion?," aclu.org (accessed Aug. 30, 2017):

"The ACLU believes that the right of each and every American to practice his or her own religion, or no religion at all, is among the most fundamental of the freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. The ACLU works to ensure religious liberty is protected by keeping the government out of the realm of all religions."

Aug. 30, 2017 - American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) 



Raul Cano, Bowling Green University Alumnus, wrote in his Sep. 27, 2004 article for BGNews.com, titled "Establishment Clause Misread":

"For one, the ACLU is not anti-religion, it just takes offense when the coercive forces of the state are used to push religion on the people of this country...

If the government was to ever try to get the Catholic League, the Christian Coalition, or the ADL off the internet, you can be sure that the ACLU would come to their aid."

Sep. 27, 2004 - Raul Cano 



Ed Brayton, freelance writer, stated in his Jan. 3, 2005 article for Dispatches From The Culture War, titled "ACLU Defending Religious Liberty":

"Contrary to the hysterically overblown view so common on the religious right (a view intentionally planted there by frauds and hucksters like Pat Robertson), the ACLU regularly goes to court to defend Christian churches and organizations.

It should perhaps also be noted that the ACLU was a staunch supporter, along with groups like the Family Research Council and the Christian Legal Society, of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act that was passed in 2000, as well as the Equal Access Act, which guarantees that religious groups have the same access to public facilities that any other community groups do. And of course there was the situation in Massachusetts, where the ACLU defended the right of an elementary school student who wanted to hand out candy canes to his classmates with a card attached that had a Christian message on it. Are these the actions of an organization that hates Christianity and wants to forcibly remove it from our society, as so many folks on the religious right claim?"

Jan. 3, 2005 - Ed Brayton