"We here at ADF are chiefly a litigating organization," Farris explained. The legal organization works to defend religious liberty in court cases across the country, with success in nearly 80 percent of its cases.
Farris is no stranger to litigation. With a specialty in constitutional appellate litigation, he has argued cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, eight federal circuit courts of appeals, and the highest courts of 13 individual states.
He also has ample experience testifying before both the House of Representatives and the Senate over the last 30 years, and he co-chaired the coalition that successfully lobbied Congress to pass the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Alliance Defending Freedom also does some work in education, reaching out to young leaders who show promise in law. In addition, it partners with other organizations that work to educate the public on religious freedom, and Farris stressed that "we want to continue that robust alliance."
Reflecting on the new administration in Washington, D.C., Farris was cautiously optimistic.
"I do see some opportunity for hope there," he said, pointing specifically to Vice President Mike Pence, who is known as a devout Christian.
"Mike is a solid believer and understands these issues," he said, adding, "I think we'll have a listening ear in the Justice Department."
While he acknowledged that "we're not walking into a perfect world," he added that "it's a world that has some hope and some opportunity," in contrast with the last eight years, which saw only the shallowest of lip service paid to the concept of religious liberty.
He said that Paul Ryan's role as Speaker of the House gives him hope for Congress as well.
Addressing perceptions of religious freedom in the United States, Farris rejected the claim that religious liberty is dangerous because it permits license for any type of action under the guise of religion.
"That theory of religious freedom has been rejected since the beginning of the Republic," he said, pointing to child sacrifice as an example of an "intrinsically evil act" that was never permitted on religious freedom grounds.
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"There's never been the idea that you could commit a common law crime in the name of religion."
But within the rational limits of religious freedom, he said, there is plenty of room for people to live out their faith in ways that other people may respectfully disagree with – and that's a cause that all Americans should rally around.
"I think the test of religious freedom," he said, "is whether you're willing to stand up for the religious freedom of those that you disagree with theologically."