Thursday, August 03, 2017

The very lucrative world of religious conservative 'law firms'

The budgets for religious conservative law firms are staggering.

An online friend of mine showed me this article from the Religious News Service about the lucrative world of religious right law firms and how they make their vast amounts of money to fund their "religious liberty" lawsuits.

They are quite numerous and their budgets are staggering. So is the effect they are having on the concept of religious liberty, according to the article.  And it's not all that good. Many folks in their circles wonder - with good cause - how their eagerness to define "religious liberty" as a Christian idea and for cases which lead to good fundraising (some would call it greed) will eventually hurt the concept of "religious liberty" in general:

The growth and success of Christian conservative legal organizations has earned them some enemies, especially at a time when religious freedom protections increasingly clash with LGBT rights. Three Christian conservative law firms — Alliance Defending Freedom, Pacific Justice Institute and Liberty Counsel — appear on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of hate groups because of their “anti-LGBT” positions. 
“There used to be broad, bipartisan support for religious liberty. That has sort of melted away now,” said Hiram Sasser, deputy chief counsel for First Liberty Institute. Alliance Defending Freedom did not respond to multiple interview requests. By pairing religious freedom law with their moral agenda, Christian conservative legal organizations have hurt religious liberty’s reputation, Laycock said. “A claim that abortion or same-sex marriage should be illegal for everybody is not a religious liberty claim. It is a claim that conservative Christian morality should be imposed by law on everyone else,” he said. 
However, linking cases with moral concerns is a powerful political and fundraising strategy. When selecting cases, the firms consider whether an issue will play well in the press and catch the attention of potential donors, Bennett said. “They’re looking for cases that set a precedent and earn them a little money in terms of fundraising,” he said. The groups profiled in “Defending Faith” bring in anywhere from $300,000 to $48.3 million in annual revenue, according to Bennett’s research.

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