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Sarah HartlandApr 20, 2017 12:00:00 AM2 min read

3 Times Religious Freedom Has Triumphed in Court

Read the news lately and it might feel like religious freedom has taken blow after blow. In courts and in culture, it can feel like Christianity is under fire. You may be surprised to hear it, but religious liberty and free speech have won more victories than you might have guessed.

The American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ) has been fighting since 1990 to protect religious and constitutional freedoms, and its victories are a beacon of hope.

Here are three landmark victories for free speech and religious freedom in the United States:

Board of Airport Commissioners v. Jews for Jesus

In 1987, a group of Messianic Jews called “Jews for Jesus” were banned from handing out religious tracts at Los Angeles International Airport. “Jews for Jesus” members continued handing out tracts anyway, and were arrested. The case made its way to the Supreme Court, and ACLJ attorney Jay Sekulow argued that religious speech and free speech were one and the same. The court voted unanimously in favor of “Jews for Jesus.”

Board of Education v. Mergens

After a group of students were denied the ability to form a Bible club on campus, Sekulow took their case all the way to the Supreme Court. According to the ACLJ, “Sekulow successfully argued that the Equal Access Act and the Constitution required that these students receive the same privileges to form a student club as other students on campus, regardless of the religious nature of their club.

Because of the Supreme Court’s decision in Mergens, every federally funded secondary school in the nation that permits non-curricular clubs such as 4-H, Chess Club, and other service-type clubs to meet and hold events on campus, must also permit student-initiated and student-run Bible clubs and prayer groups to meet to the same extent.”

Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow

When Michael Newdow filed a suit in 2004 arguing that the phrase “One Nation, Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance was unconstitutional, more than 260,000 Americans and almost 70 congressmen and women filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court to fight it.

The Supreme Court dismissed Newdow’s case, finding that he did not have legal standing to file the suit. It was a resounding victory that preserved the Pledge of Allegiance that we still recite today.

The outcome of these cases are encouraging, but they’re far from the only victories for free speech and religious liberty. Read more about the success of the American Center for Law and Justice on their website.

For more encouragement, be sure to watch “God’s Not Dead 2,” streaming on When high school teacher Grace Wesley is brought before a judge for speaking about Jesus in class, will religious freedom triumph? Find out by watching “God’s Not Dead 2,” free with your one-month trial of


Sarah Hartland

Sarah Hartland knew she wanted to be a writer from the time she wrote her first short story in the fourth grade. By the time she was in high school, she had written two novellas and countless short stories. It was her love of storytelling that led her into marketing and media.

Sarah freelanced throughout her time at Colorado Christian University, where she graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration. At CCU, Sarah competed in speech and debate across the country, securing multiple awards and a national debate championship. She co-lead CCU's first-ever broadcast media program, CCU.TV, and served as the program's Student Producer during her senior year.

When she's not writing blog posts or editing a video, Sarah loves to swing dance, ski, travel, or visit her seven younger siblings in Montana.