There is war being waged in our country. Every day, battles for religious liberty are being fought over zoning laws, unjustified criminal prosecution, employee discrimination, municipalities violating First Amendment rights to evangelize in public areas, and state laws that ban counseling for people wanting to be free from unwanted same-sex attraction. People may protest and petition to show their discontent with these laws, but who actually steps onto the frontlines to make sure they get changed?
Just like any other kind of battle, a legal one involves strategy. Public interest groups such as Illinois Family Institute, One Nation Under God Foundation, or Concerned Christian Ministries might pay attention to national news, anticipating which potentially restrictive bills will be introduced next. They can also watch local headlines to see which newly passed city ordinances might lead to discrimination. When something crosses their radar, they call on the legal expertise of dedicated lawyers.
This is a team effort in which not just lawyers are present. A law firm like Mauck & Baker who constantly fights for religious freedom also consists of paralegals who do a lot of the research and filing it takes to make a case well-organized, as well as communications professionals who make sure our clients’ stories get told.
Protecting religious liberty is a spiritual battle just as much as a legal battle, so it involves lots of praying. Christian attorneys pray for clients’ spiritual strength, their worldly trouble, and for Jesus to be glorified through our work. Attorneys are in a special position of counsel, so Christian lawyers should use this opportunity to address any spiritual issues their clients face.
In pursuit of protecting religious liberty, there is a big picture on which to remain focused: to glorify and honor God above all else. God tells us through Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:31, “So, whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” Many religious liberty cases become very public, and with this publicity comes the potential to shine the light of Christ into the world. Although not all religious liberty cases are given national coverage in the media, they can be used to witness to everyone involved, including support staff, opposing counsel, law clerks, and judges. One such case I worked on involved a baptism testimony as an evidence exhibit! Even when we lose a case, how we proceed afterwards becomes a testimony to all who are watching. The litigation itself is also a reminder to legislators and city council members that they cannot chip away our religious liberty without a fight.
Perhaps one of the most important components in religious liberty work is the support of people like you. Although many religious liberty cases present the possibility of fee shifting [when the losing party has to pay the winning party’s attorney’s fees] grants, like those from Alliance Defending Freedom, allow lawyers to take on religious liberty cases that have some risk. Private law firms working on religious liberty cases do not rely on donations for their funding requirements, so grants are crucial. These are only made possible through the Spirit-obeying generosity of Christians, however. Financial contributions make it possible for legal organizations to support litigation that protects people of faith. Defending religious liberty is a team effort through and through. “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” –Ecclesiastes 4:12.
Written by Jonathan Rosenthal, a Paralegal at Mauck & Baker and a part-time student at DePaul College of Law. His legal interests are Christian non-profit and Securities Law. His duties include, but are not limited to, legal research, memorandums, trial briefs, assisting attorneys for hearings and trials, and administrative support. Jonathan enjoys working at Mauck & Baker because it provides the opportunity to render legal support to the body of Christ.