Thanks to the ACLJ’s members continued support, we were once again able to defend life and liberty around the world throughout 2016. Because of members financially supporting our work, signing our petitions, and sharing our important advocacy with friends, we achieved numerous victories in the United States on Capitol Hill and in federal courts, in addition to our vital work at the U.N. and our international offices around the world this past year. Over the last few weeks, we’ve been outlining and sharing about this success in our 2016 Victories Series, where you can read all about our various victories for liberty and justice.
We couldn’t have done any of this important work without you. And as we prepare to tackle the challenges ahead in 2017, we need your support more than ever before.
At home, we carried the momentum of our victories in numerous federal courts in 2015 into 2016, continuing our winning streak against President Obama’s lawless Executive overreach unilaterally rewriting our nation’s immigration laws. Just as we had done before on behalf of thousands of you and dozens of Members of Congress, we continued to file legal briefs at every turn to lay out the statutory, regulatory, and constitutional problems with President Obama’s lawlessness. This year, the Supreme Court kept an injunction in place that continued to block the Executive overreach.
There were also many attacks on the constitutional freedoms, sacrificial honor, and religious liberty of our men and women who put everything on the line to serve in our Armed Services.
Against angry atheists and anti-Christian zealots, we defended the National Day of Prayer in the military, defended Bibles at Veterans Affairs (VA) clinics, chaplains praying in uniform at religious freedom events, and more. Diligent activism also paid off for our military recruiters as the Obama Administration finally implemented new common-sense regulations to allow our military professionals to defend themselves.
We achieved two other victories against ardent atheists this year in battles that have lasted for years, but culminated in decisive victories in federal courts. In one, atheists absurdly claimed constitutional problems with our National Motto – “In God We Trust” – on U.S. currency. On behalf of 50 Members of Congress and more than 120,000 ACLJ members, we filed critical legal briefs in the case and the federal court dismissed the lawsuit altogether. The atheists are looking to appeal, and we stand at the ready to continue standing up for our National Motto and our American heritage whenever it’s attacked. In another case, a statue of Jesus in Montana memorializing the sacrifices of WWII veterans in Italy was challenged in federal court. Again, after a years-long battle, filing numerous legal briefs at various levels in the litigation on behalf of our members and Members of Congress, we were victorious.
One of our most significant victories of the year couldn’t have happened without more than 340,000 of you who joined our cause to ensure Sergeant First Class (SFC) Charles Martland was exonerated and allowed to continue to serve our country in uniform. After protecting a child from sexual abuse at the hands of an Afghani police commander, SFC Martland was reprimanded and scheduled to be discharged. But you spoke out, we mobilized our offices, and SFC Martland was exonerated.
In Georgia, our team of attorneys successfully defended children from online sexual exploitation as the Supreme Court of Georgia unanimously sided with our arguments that Georgia’s law protecting children from sexual exploitation is both constitutional and a wise way to keep our children and grandchildren safe.
Every child is worthy of protection under our laws, no matter how young or how small. That’s why we continued our decades-long defense of the sanctity of life and inherent, God-given dignity for every single human life. This year, our office on Capitol Hill helped ensure that a bill defunding Planned Parenthood—who murders more than 320,000 babies each year—was sent to the President’s desk for the first time. Now we’re battling back against a dangerous Obama Administration regulation that bans states from doing the same thing – defending Big Abortion. We continue our work in significant pro-life cases in federal court from coast-to-coast, defending pro-life activists, common-sense restrictions on abortion, and more. Finally, we achieved a massive victory for every life and religious liberty when ObamaCare’s abortion-pill mandate was rejected at the Supreme Court. Nuns serving the poor and other religious non-profits no longer must decide between staying open or providing access to abortifacients.
As the Obama Administration’s Executive overreach accelerated in its final year, we launched our Government Accountability Project to hold the Administration accountable and fight back on every front. Our battle against the IRS’s unconstitutional targeting of grassroots conservatives and patriotic Americans provided big wins as more groups received tax-exempt status and federal courts told the Obama Administration it had to provide determinations and give the targeted groups their day in federal court.
We filed other lawsuits against the Obama Administration on its lies and cover-ups about the horrendous Iran nuclear deal, on State Department collusion, meetings that got in the way of justice, and State Department funding used in attempts to unseat Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
2016 was a landmark year for extremist attempts to delegitimize and ultimately destroy the State of Israel. Leading global efforts at the United Nations and around the world to battle the anti-Israeli Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, we had many victories on behalf of Christian, Jewish, and other pro-Israeli students and professors targeted by the rising tide of anti-Semitism. I also spoke at the United Nations in defense of Israel and how we must and will stop the BDS movement, leading a global conference on how we can do it together.
Around the world, we defended persecuted Christians from the first day of the year until the last. We successfully defended persecuted Christians in Pakistan like an 8-year-old girl named Parwasha, while also partnering to provide humanitarian aid in the aftermath of the Easter jihadist bombing there. Our three-year-long battle to free American Pastor Saeed Abedini from wrongful imprisonment in Iran came to a close thanks to the more than 1.1 million of you who spoke out for his freedom.
Our office in Kenya continued its work to bring the corrupt public officials and others perpetrating early forced child marriages and other brutal practices to justice in court. Additionally, we worked for justice for Christian attorneys unjustly targeted and murdered, resulting in the corrupt, murderous Kenyan police officers being charged in court.
Because you spoke out and we fought hard on Capitol Hill, the Obama Administration finally recognized the ISIS “genocide against . . . Christians” and other religious minorities in the Middle East. But that is just the first step. Because the Obama Administration’s State Department refused to meet their legal obligations to provide answers for next steps to stop the genocide, we took them to federal court demanding answers. Now as the year draws to a close, we’re seeing significant action in this case as the Administration is finally forced to begin turning over these answers to us.
Finally, my third book – Unholy Alliance: The Agenda Iran, Russia, and Jihadists Share for Conquering the World – debuted on the New York Times Best Sellers lists, magnifying our message on the unique threats facing our nation and world, and what we must do to confront them.
As we prepare for the new year ahead, we continue to fight on Capitol Hill, at the United Nations, and around the world to protect our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ from the genocide waged against them by ISIS. We’re working to help save two more Christian Pastors in Sudan who face possible death sentences because of their faith. We’re representing the family of American Pastor Andrew Brunson who spent Christmas in a Turkish prison facing dangerous and false charges because of his Christian faith.
We must stand vigilant in the final days of the Obama Administration to defend Israel from betrayal and stop last-minute regulations like the bailout of Planned Parenthood by trying to prohibit states from defunding our nation’s largest abortion provider.
The new incoming Administration provides opportunities for the sanctity of life, constitutional liberties, and justice for all. But we must remain vigilant. We must push forward on every front – in courts, on Capitol Hill, and in our communities.
While we’ve had many victories this past year, the fight is far from over.
We can’t do this important legal work without your help. Consider an end-of-year Tax-Deductible donation today, and it will be doubled dollar-for-dollar through our Matching Challenge to ensure we can build off our landmark victories of 2016 to continue these important fights in 2017.
Thank you, and have a very happy and blessed New Year.
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