First Liberty Institute is the largest legal organization in the nation dedicated exclusively to protecting religious liberty for all Americans.
As a nonprofit organization, First Liberty fights for people of all faiths whose religious liberty has been threatened or whose First Amendment rights have been violated. Originally called Liberty Legal Institute, the organization was founded in 1972 as a division of Free Market Foundation. In 1997, Kelly Shackelford formed Liberty Institute as a nonprofit law firm specializing in religious liberty cases primarily litigated in Texas. Presently, First Liberty Institute handles hundreds of religious liberty cases annually across our nation through a growing network of elite, volunteer attorneys.
First Liberty has helped establish legal precedents that protect the First Amendment rights of millions of Americans.
We believe that in today’s diverse, pluralistic society, the government must protect the constitutional rights of its citizens in order for us all to coexist peacefully — even when we disagree. And the true cornerstone of that belief means recognizing and defending the fundamental right of every individual – of any faith – to follow their conscience and to live according to their religious beliefs. click to tweet
First Liberty works on a national level, securing religious freedom in four critical areas:
1- Religious liberty for churches and religious organizations
2- Religious liberty inside the military
3- Religious liberty in schools
4- Religious liberty throughout the public arena
As our Founding Fathers declared, religious liberty is our first and most foundational right, it serves as the catalyst of all subsequent freedoms. When religious liberty is threatened or attacked, every other freedom is endangered. Once our First Freedom is lost, it will be gone forever. First Liberty is First in the Fight when it comes to defending and protecting our country’s most cherished and profound freedom: religious liberty.
The Trump administration has recently taken two important actions to prioritize America’s first freedoms for American students, including religious liberty and the subsequent liberties enshrined in our First Amendment.
1) Executive Order Protecting Free Speech on College Campuses If you’re a student who wants to live out your faith at your college – then this order is going to do more than help you breathe easier. In today's hypersensitive climate across colleges and in our culture, people of faith are increasingly among the first ones to bear the burden of censorship. It is no secret that some colleges outright censor students, groups or speakers whose beliefs or opinions are considered "hate speech, intolerant or not inclusive". This Executive Order serves to ensure that all students – whether religious or not – can express their ideas and beliefs, as well as participate in open, free and civil dialogue.
2) Giving religious organizations an opportunity to provide great educational services.
In March 2019, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced that religious organizations can participate in programs that provide tutoring, mentoring, and other services to local students and teachers.
Prior to this action, federal law barred religious organizations from receiving federal funds to provide these key services to private schools. Moving forward, the Department of Education (DoE) will ensure religious organizations are treated equally and given the same opportunity as secular groups, which is in accordance with the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Trinity Lutheran v. Comer.
This action is in line with President Trump’s 2017 executive order on religious freedom, which “protects the freedom of Americans and their organizations to exercise religion and participate fully in civic life without undue interference by the federal government". Accordingly, this Administration is effectively returning religious liberty to students and parents across the nation. First Liberty has openly supported and applauded these actions.
First Liberty attorneys litigate, argue, and win cases at all judicial levels, providing superior legal defense for individuals and religious organizations that are targeted because of their religious beliefs. First Liberty attorneys frequently defend religious freedom in national media, including appearing in outlets such as The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, FOX News, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, and more.
First Liberty provides timely tools and information to help YOU take action in helping to protect and defend religious liberty for people of all faiths.
Download these premiere resources HERE.
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Join the fight to restore religious liberty in America with your gift now. Your financial support will help First Liberty meet every attack on religious freedom head on and protect the values that matter most to you and your family. Support HERE. Your donation is tax exempt. First Liberty Institute is recognized by the IRS as a tax-exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue code, and gifts are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.