Who Is the American Center for Law and Justice?
The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) is an anti-Muslim, constitutional law firm established by televangelist Pat Robertson and Jay Sekulow. This organization is known for disseminating anti-Muslim propaganda.
Operating as a tax-exempt, not-for-profit, religious corporation, the ACLJ is a significant and well-funded node of the Islamophobia network. According to 2022 CAIR report detailing nearly $106 million of philanthropic funding into anti-Muslim groups, it was revealed that ACJU received over $60 million between 2017-2019 as the largest recipient of grants from philanthropic groups funding anti-Muslim organizations.
One of the ACLJ’s prominent anti-Muslim activities was its vehement opposition to the proposed construction of a Muslim community center in Lower Manhattan. In 2010, the ACLJ filed a lawsuit attempting to halt the construction of the Park51 center, citing its proximity to the site of the World Trade Center as the reason for objection.
An ACLJ attorney, Brett Joshpe, acknowledged that their intervention was motivated by the Muslim nature of the center and insinuated that a mosque would be “offending and hurting the 9/11 victims’ families.” The lawsuit was ultimately dismissed by the New York State Supreme Court.
In the same year, the ACLJ advocated for Oklahoma’s “Save our State” Amendment, aimed at prohibiting state courts from considering foreign law or Sharia in their judicial proceedings. The amendment was later deemed unconstitutional by a federal court for violating the U.S. Constitution’s Establishment Clause. This ruling was upheld by the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in January 2012.
In 2011, the organization published an anti-Muslim pamphlet titled “Shari’a Law: Radical Islam’s Threat to the U.S. Constitution,” asserting that “devout Muslims cannot truthfully swear an oath to become citizens of the United States of America.”
In 2017, the ACLJ promoted a misleading story suggesting that the Obama Administration had forbidden the use of terms like “jihad” and “Sharia.” The center submitted Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to the Department of Homeland Security and its components, seeking information on the so-called “word-purge.” This purported “purge” was instead an attempt to eliminate Islamophobic rhetoric from FBI training materials.
Pat Robertson, the founder of the ACLJ, was a media executive and Baptist minister known for his significant role in Christian conservative politics. He frequently appeared as a commentator on the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN). In 2008, on an episode of his program “The 700 Club” on CBN, Robertson falsely claimed that “Islam is not a religion, it is a political system bent on world domination … not a religion. It masquerades as a religion, but the religion covers a worldwide attempt to exercise power and to subjugate the world to their way of thinking.”
In a 2017 piece titled “The West and Radical Islam,” Sekulow stated the following: “Without realizing what truly makes America exceptional and why radical Islamists and many other Muslims hate us, we will continue to lose this war…They are at war with us now and will continue to be long into the future, until we are destroyed.” Sekulow was a prominent figure on former President Donald Trump’s legal team and is a frequent presence in conservative media, with his own radio show and regular appearances on Fox News, “The 700 Club,” and Sean Hannity’s radio show.
The ACLJ opposed the teaching of Islamic beliefs for the purpose of cultural awareness in American public schools. In 2015, in Tennessee and Georgia, the organization condemned schools for teaching that the three Abrahamic faiths worship the same god. The ACLJ deemed teaching about the five pillars of Islamic faith as “indoctrination,” despite their significance to a major world faith.
The ACLJ filed two animus briefs on the discriminatory Muslim Ban in 2017. The organization filed multiple briefs at various levels of the judiciary to advocate for the ban’s implementation. The Biden administration revoked the executive order on “discriminatory” grounds on its inauguration day.