American Center for Law & Justice
|Headquarters||Washington, D.C., United States|
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the United States
The American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ) is a politically conservative, Christian-based social activism and watchdog for corruption organization in the United States. It is headquartered in Washington, D.C. and associated with Regent University School of Law in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
The ACLJ was founded in 1990 by law school graduate and evangelical minister Pat Robertson to protect constitutional and human rights worldwide. ACLJ generally pursues constitutional issues and conservative Christian ideals in courts of law. The leaders of the ACLJ also occasionally engage in public debates to present their perspective on legal and constitutional issues.
The ACLJ arose in part as a right-leaning political answer to the American Civil Liberties Union. The name and acronym, ACLJ, was chosen to contrast with the ACLU. It has attracted much media attention for its lawsuits, such as its campaign to oppose changes to the constitution of Kenya that, according to the group, would permit abortion and Islamic law, and its attempts to block the construction of an Islamic cultural center near the former site of the World Trade Center.
The ACLJ supported blocking the construction of the center through New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, though the ACLJ in the past has opposed efforts to block churches in the same way. In November 2010, the ACLJ asked that the U.S. Justice Department investigate the Congressional Muslim Staffer Association's weekly prayer session on Capitol Hill, alleging that the organization demonstrated "a pattern of inviting Islamic extremists with ties to terrorism to participate in these events".
In 2018, ACLJ attorney Jay Sekulow was serving on President Donald Trump's personal legal team. Another Sekulow client at the time was the American Christian pastor Andrew Brunson, in detention and facing charges in Turkey.
In 1997 Jay Sekulow and Thomas Patrick Monaghan, Chief Counsel and Senior Counsel of the ACLJ, respectively, set up the European Center for Law and Justice (ECLJ) in Strasbourg as part of the ACLJ's international strategy. Sekulow serves as Chief Counsel for the ECLJ. The following year the ACLJ set up the Slavic Center for Law and Justice (SCLJ) in Moscow. Both organizations on the European mainland have a full-time staff of religious rights attorneys. The ECLJ is active in the United Nations Organization and in the Council of Europe, and represents the interests of certain Christians in the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
The ACLJ is one of several American Christian groups that are promoting conservative Christian laws in Africa, supporting controversial movements regarding LGBT rights, including support in Uganda for criminalizing homosexuality.
The ACLJ has been criticized by the ACLU for its stance on putting prayer in public school and by Americans United for confounding support of separation of church and state with being anti-religious. The Human Rights Campaign is critical of the ACLJ's finances citing that the organization does not meet "10 out of 20 of the Better Business Bureau’s standards for charity accountability" and that ACLJ obfuscates how much Sekulow earns from the organization.
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