The following lists the foundations, and related funding entities, associated with The Gathering., as well as other conduits for major funding to secular right and politicized religious right.
All but a few of the foundations on the list below have had direct leadership participation (indicated by “*”) in The Gathering. Some appear to be spinoffs of the National Christian Foundation (such as Waterstone) or fund the NCF (Barnabas). All fund organizations and ministries which advance the mainly Protestant, heavily sectarian, supremacist Christian dominionism historically in display at The Gathering and manifested in the funding patterns of its various associated foundations, including The Gathering’s biggest foundation, the National Christian Foundation.
As an additional, important note – considerable funding to some of the most controversial religious right organizations that have been funded by the nonprofits associated with The Gathering listed below also cycles through Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund, identified in a Feb. 5, 2013 story by Andy Kroll, published in Mother Jones magazine, as the “Dark Money ATM of the Conservative Movement” ( http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/02/donors-trust-donor-capital-fund-dark-money-koch-bradley-devos ). Kroll presented Donor’s Trust / Donor’s Capital Fund (DT/DCF) as mainly secular. However funders on the evangelical right associated with The Gathering, such as the DeVos family (noted as big DT/DCF contributors in Kroll’s story) appear to use DT/DCF as yet another conduit for funneling anonymized funding to various controversial evangelical right causes (appendix see subsection on Donor’s Trust/Donor’s Capital Fund)
In addition, at least one major liberal donor advised fund – Vangaurd Donor Advised (over $500,000,000 in grants, FY 2012) – has emerged as a significant conduit for funding to both the secular right and the hard evangelical right. (see appendix subsection, detail of funding from Vanguard 2012 990 tax form, detail of funded groups from “A” to “C”). While Vanguard’s overall funding pattern is decidely liberal, Vanguard has nonetheless given substantial funding to organizations on the dominionist Christian right such as Focus on the Family ($122,750 in 2012) and Campus Crusade For Christ ($327,927), the latter an especially noteworthy contribution given Campus Crusade’s activities in Africa in 2012-2013, as reported by Truth Wins Out (see: http://www.truthwinsout.org/news/2013/05/35215/ )
The Gathering Foundations & Related Funding Entities
Note: dollar figures associated with respective foundations represent their grant giving in 2012.
*1. National Christian Foundation ( EIN 58-1493949 ) $601,841,675
Two of the NCF co-founders were tied to Bill Bright’s Campus Crusade for Christ: NCF co-founder the late Larry Burkett worked as a financial planner for Campus Crusade, and NCF co-founder Ron Blue has served on Campus Crusade’s board (as well as on the board of directors of the Family Research Council). Along with Bright, Burkett was one of the co-founders of the Alliance Defense Fund / Alliance Defending Freedom — now the religious right’s preeminent umbrella legal defense fund, which works with all religious right legal groups, including Catholic and Mormon groups.
NCF’s other co-founder, Atlanta, Georgia tax lawyer Terrance Parker, also sits on the board of directors of the Tyler, Texas-based The Gathering Foundation that hosts the annual even called The Gathering as well as the board of the Family Research Council; and NCF leaders, including Parker, make frequent speaking appearances at yearly The Gathering events. Parker has long written a financial advice column for The Gathering’s newsletter.
*2. John Templeton Foundation ( EIN 62-1322826 ) $104,863,836
Like the Mustard Seed Foundation, one of Templeton’s areas of focus lies in funding friendly academics, and academic programs – such as Margaret Poloma’s “Flame of Love project” which portrayed a number of leaders in the New Apostolic Reformation, such as C. Peter Wagner, as “exemplars of godly love”.
3. The Barnabas Foundation ( EIN 362904503 ) $39,939,489 This foundation, which specializes in funding local projects, gave in FY 2012 $500,000 to help establish a local West Michigan branch of the National Christian Foundation (from 2012 990: “West Michigan Christian Foundation AKA National Christian Foundation”.) Over the past decade the NCF has been engaged in the creation of NCF subsidiary foundations in urban areas across the United States.
4. Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation ( EIN 39-6037928 ) $34,340,138 Bradley funds numerous NCF/The Gathering associated religious orgs. and has clear connection with The Gathering leadership. The Bradley Foundation, mainly secular, nonethless funds radical evangelical causes such as the Discovery Institute, which promotes Intelligent Design and creationism, and the Howard Center, whose World Congress of Families initiative is directly tied to repressive anti-LGBT rights legislation in Russia.
Evidence that heads of the Bradley Foundation attend The Gathering has not yet emerged and may not, ever, but Bradley co-funds the Bible Literacy Project (mentioned in The Gathering Winter 2005 newsletter) and also helped create the careers of key Gathering leaders such as Marvin Olasky, through the Bradley Resident Scholars Program at the Heritage Foundation. One of the chief intellectual authors of the Faith Based Initiative, Olasky has also received substantial financial support from Howard Ahmanson’s Fieldstead & Company (see: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2011/january/27.28.html )
The Bradley Foundation’s 2012 990 tax form shows a hefty $80,000 grant to the Council on National Policy, which many The Gathering leaders also attend. Thus, there are plenty of established links between the Bradley Foundation and prominent members of The Gathering to facilitate strategic collaboration.
Official distance between the Bradley Foundation and The Gathering may function to maintain plausible deniability; while much of the Bradley Foundation’s philanthropic giving appears secular and libertarian in nature, the Bradley Foundation ( like Donors Capital Trust, discussed below ) also channels significant funding to projects that are radically at odds with a libertarian ethos, because such funding is to explicitly religious entities. Some Bradley-funded projects promote religious supremacy and work to curtail individual rights – notably the rights of LGBT citizens.
5. Christian Community Foundation, Inc. ( EIN 75-1750059 DBA “Waterstone”) $33,060,891 One of NCF’s many spinoff entities.
6. Arthur S. DeMoss Foundation ( EIN 23-6404136 ) $28,326,011
Arthur DeMoss died prior to the launch of The Gathering but almost certainly would have attended had he lived longer. The DeMoss Foundation funds many The Gathering related ministries including heavy fundiung to Prison Fellowship, Campus Crusade For Christ, and Compassion International. In turn, Arthur DeMoss’ brother Ted DeMoss’ Christian Men’s Business Committee has received over $1,100,000 from the NCF. For his part, Art DeMoss was a co-funder, along with Richard DeVos, of a mid-1970s initiative – sometimes identified as the earliest incarnation of the modern American religious right – to “rebuild the foundations of the Republic as it was when first founded–a ‘Christian Republic’”. The project was headed by Campus Crusade For Christ founder Bill Bright and had, as its main thrust, Third Century Publications, which published a books urging conservative Christians to enter electoral politics and a handbook of instructions on how to do that.
*7. Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation ( EIN 23-7066873 Note: $2,000,000 FY 2012 to Donors Trust ) $27,771,780
*8. Douglas and Maria DeVos Foundation ( EIN 38-3035972 note: $250,000 to NOM 2012) $21,142,693
*9. The Maclellan Foundation, Inc. ( EIN 62-6041468 “Section 4947”, “Nonexempt Charitable Trust” ) $21,013,152
*10. Fieldstead and Company (unincorporated funding vehicle for Howard and Roberta Ahmanson.) Estimated annual giving: $17,500,000 (see footnote)
Howard F. Ahmanson has been described, at The Gathering, as one of its members who has been at the event “from the very beginning”. A top funder of the Christian Reconstructionist Chalcedon Foundation, Ahmanson sat on Chalcedon’s board up to 1995 and has been a major funder of groups and initiatives hostile to LGBT rights.
Howard Ahmanson inherited $300,000,000 in 1968 – a sum that would be worth over $2 billion in 2014 dollars. By most accounts Ahmanson invested the money wisely.
footnote: In a 2002 interview Ahmanson told the Philanthropy Roundtable that “the non-poor should be giving away 10 to 15 percent. The wealthy can afford to be more generous than that”.
Assuming Ahmanson had simply maintained his inheritted fortune, a 5% rate of return on $2 billion would give Ahmanson $100,000,000 in yearly income, so a 15-20% “tithe” to charitable causes from that would be $15-20 million per year. An unofficial estimate published in a 2011 Christianity Today story substantiates this estimate; the 2011 CT story – which glossed over the magnitude and range of Fieldstead and Co. granting to controversial causes such as anti-LGBT rights efforts – put Fieldstead’s annual granting “in the low eight figures based on its projects and staff size”.
*11. Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation ( EIN 38-2902412 ) $13,758,058
12. Covenant Foundation ( EIN 74-2622129 ) $13,131,108 ) – Texas physician and medical products entrepreneur James R. Leininger has many links to the Christian Reconstructionism movement (see: http://barthsnotes.com/2004/06/12/meet-james-leininger/ ). One of the top donors to the Texas Republican Party, it is likely Leininger is not seen at The Gathering for the simple reason that it is unnecessary, because his philanthropy – which goes to hard-right conservative evangelical causes – is heavily weighted towards granting to entities in Texas (such as $3.8 million to the Christian Academy of San Antonio.) Leininger is a participant in the Council For National Policy, which includes numerous members of The Gathering community
In most respects Covenant’s giving pattern resembles the giving profile of the National Christian Foundation, with grants to NCF-backed orgs. such as Campus Crusade For Christ, Family Research Council, and so on.
Covenant provides substantial funding for the “Family Talk” radio show of Focus on the Family founder and featured The Gathering speaker Dr. James Dobson ($1,000,000, FY 2012) and is one of the biggest financial sponsors of the National Christian Foundation-funded Patrick Henry College ($3,000,000 FY 2012). Covenant is also a main source of funding for the Texas Public Policy Foundation ($2,800,000) which interlocks with the national network of state level public policy and (NCF-funded) family policy institutes that, in turn, coordinate with the Koch brothers-funded organization ALEC.
*13. Bolthouse Foundation ( EIN 77-0186343 all money goes directly to NCF ) – $7,500,000
*14. Adolf Coors Foundation ( EIN 51-0172279 Section 4947 Nonexempt Charitable Trust ) $7,400,903
15. ProVision Foundation ( EIN 62-1837284 funds both NCF and Fellowship Foundation) $5,821,510
*16. Stewardship Foundation [parent company, Weyerhauser] ( EIN 91-6020515 ) – $5,050,826
*17. Lynn and Foster Friess Family Foundation ( EIN 51-0260302 Section 4947 Nonexempt Charitable Trust NOTE: almost all, $4.8 million, goes directly to NCF. $5,000 goes to Council For National Policy) $4,810,000
*18. Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation ( EIN 38-2190330 Section 4947 Nonexempt Charitable Trust. Betsy Devos on board, with Erik Prince of Blackwater ) $4,740,000
*19. Living Stones Charitable Trust ( EIN 52-7038921 501(c)(3) Ken Eldred, ) $2,633,264
*20. The Mustard Seed Foundation ( EIN 57-0748914 Eileen & Dennis Bakke, (cofounder AES Systems) Imagine Schools (biggest US charter school chain) Mustard Seed fellows include Michael D. Lindsay and Jacquelline Fuller, head of Google Foundation ) $2,374,246
*21. Robert L. and Kathrina H. Maclellan Foundation ( EIN 23-7159802 Section 4947 Nonexempt Charitable Trust ) $1,810,596
*22. Festus & Helen Stacy Foundation, Inc. ( EIN 31-1706311 Section 4947 Nonexempt Charitable Trust ) $1,062,157
*23. Hugh and Charlotte Maclellan Charitable Trust ( EIN 62-6268981 Section 4947 Nonexempt Charitable Trust ) $887,517
*24. Huston Foundation ( EIN 123-628 Section 4947 Nonexempt Charitable Trust ) $856,288
*25. It Takes a Family Foundation ( EIN 22-6932940 ) $756,925
A spinoff of The Bengard Foundation ( EIN 22-6932940 NCF co-founder Terrill A. Parker listed as a trustee, Bengard 2010 990 says Bengard founded to carry out purposes of NCF ) In 2012 Bengard gave all of its assets ~$9.5 million to “It Takes a Family Foundation, Inc” ( EIN 58-2276414) which in turn funded NOM, AFA, CNP, FRC, Exodus, American Values, Pacific Justice Institute, etc.)
*26. Festus and Helen Stacy Foundation II ( EIN 20-6712263 ) – $443,658
Subtotal: (note; does not include Friess Foundation’s $4.8 million that cycled through NCF in 2012, and $7,500,000 from Bolthouse Foundation, same reason) – $974,510,710
In 2013, the National Christian Foundation declared its 2013 granting had risen to roughly $675 million, putting the likely total of giving from foundations associated with The Gathering to well over $1 billion.
Related foundations, and footnotes on The Gathering foundations:
The NCF has even begun international subsidiaries – since 2008 the NCF has channeled several million dollars towards the establishment of the Christian Community Foundation of France, which specializes in sponsoring new neo-fundamentalist French churches.
Donors Trust / Donors Capital Fund ( ~$100,000,000/year ) – mostly secular, but it appears some The Gathering donors use it as yet another vehicle to preserve their anonymity, for especially sensitive projects, e.g. the Howard Center and the Discovery Institute. Between $5-10 million of more overtly religious funding a year cycles through the otherwise mainly secular Donors Trust / Donors Capital Fund
In a February 2013 Mother Jones article, author Andy Kroll identified DT/DCF as the “Dark Money ATM of the Conservative Movement” which “has steered hundreds of millions of dollars to the most influential think tanks, foundations, and advocacy groups in the conservative movement”. But Donors Trust funding isn’t as secular as Mother Jones seemed to suggest.
Two hypotheses are equally likely: one, Donors Trust / Donors Capital Fund — the structure of which (the two conjoined entities) closely mirrors the structure of the National Christian Foundation & related entities — is a relatively secular copy of NCF’s succesfull organizational model, and The Gathering foundations channel some of their giving through Donors Trust / Donors Capital Fund to, as with the Bradley Foundation, put distance between the NCF – which otherwise would be their funding vehicle of choice – and some of The Gathering’s more politically sensitive projects, such as the Discovery Institute
[the Discovery Institute was heavily involved in the effort to insert Intelligent Design into Pennsylvania public schools, which led to the 2005 Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School Pennsylvania District court case in which Judge John E. Jones III – a Republican appointed by George W. Bush in 2002 – ruled that ID is not science and thus the teaching of ID in public schools is unconstitutional. The Discovery Institute has been heavily financed by Howard Ahmanson’s Fieldstead and Company.]
In the second hypothesis, Donors Trust / Donors Capital Fund has organizational ties/communication with The Gathering leadership. But even without such ties, Donors Trust / Donors Capital Fund fits seamlessly into the overall pattern in which secular libertarian-right funding patterns and funding of evangelical Christian institutions and “family values” issues (e.g. opposition to abortion, same-sex marriage, and stem cell research), interlock and push towards a society — with dramatically scaled back government functions, in which churches playing a major role in local government, in the justice system and in providing for the needy, and in which conservative evangelical values are normative and legally enforced — similar to the theocratic libertarianism envisioned by leading Christian Reconstructionist theorists such as Rousas J. Rushdoony and Gary North.
In 2012 Donors Trust gave $175,500 to the National Organization For Marriage Education Fund whose leadership, according to The Nation, has recently played an active role in encouraging new Russian laws restricting LGBT rights and access to abortion. Donors Trust also gave $25,000 toward the Howard Center, whose World Congress of Families initiative.
In 2012 Donors Trust granted $225,000 to the Institute For Religion and Democracy, nonprofit known for its efforts to foment schisms, over “family values” issues such as same-sex marriage, in liberal and centrist mainline Protestant denominations.
$14,000 of Donors Trust money in in 2014 went to the Media Research Center, which in 2006 launched Robert H. Knight’s Culture and Media Institute subsidiary. Knight, a co-author of the Defense of Marriage Act, has endorsed Christian Reconstructionist and Coalition on Revival co-chair Peter Hammond, whose 2001 book “The Pink Agenda” closely parallels the anti-LGBT invective of Scott Lively and was banned by the government of South Africa for non-adult readers.
In addition, Donors Trust makes grants to entities which have advanced religious positions for opposing the mainstream view of the scientific community – such as over $700,000 in grants to the Acton Institute, which has co-sponsored initiatives of the Cornwall Alliance, a coalition whose membership has enjoyed financial sponsorship from the National Christian Foundation upwards of $145,000,000 from 2001-2012.
Donors Trust even gave $1.25 million dollars to the Discovery Institute, the leading nonprofit promoting Intelligent Design — at The Gathering 1999, Discovery Institute head Philip Johnson described ID as a “wedge” that could advance creationist ideas.
One major initiative for Donors Trust in 2012 was $1,968,000 in funding to the Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics, whose institutional outlook appears derived from Christian Reconstructionist ideas:
“IFWE’s research starts with the belief that the Bible, as the inerrant Word of God, provides the authoritative and intellectual foundation for a proper understanding of work and economic truths that, when properly followed, can help individuals, companies, communities, and nations flourish.”
In an op-ed that suggests economically inequality may be divinely ordained, one Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics author writes, “There’s a lot about greed in the Bible, but not a single passage of Scripture or traditional Judeo-Christian teaching suggests that income inequality, in itself, is a moral evil.”
In 2012 Donors Trust also gave $120,000 to the Ethics and Policy Center, whose E&PPC Fellow Herbert Schlossberg had in 1997, while working as a program director for Howard Ahmanson’s Fieldstead & Company, outlined at The Gathering a grand strategy for combating the gay rights movement.
Ethics and Public Policy Center Vice President Michael Cromartie, a frequent speaker at The Gathering, has cultivated numerous connections among elite members of mainstream media, including at the New York Times, Washington Post, ABC, NBC, CBS, and NPR – whom he advises on matters of religion and politics.
DT/DCF has provided substantial funding (from DT/DCF 2012 990 tax forms, total amount per year in parentheses) :
Family Research Institute Wisconsin 100,000
Acton Institute 23,500 22,450 34,800 108,750 699,000 (888,500)
IRD 250,000 420,000 30,000 29,550 225,000 (704,550)
Discovery Institute 49,500 250,000 750,000 1,250,000 (2,299,500)
Fellowship Foundation 50,000
Focus on The Family 22,500
Illinois Policy Inst. 5,000 10,000 146,000 109,000 ( 270,000)
Ethics & Public Policy Center 25,000 25,000 40,000 120,000 (210,000)
CO Family Institute 147,540
Minn. Family Inst. 200,000
National Right To Life Education Committee 246,378
Howard Center 25,000 25,000 (50,000)
Witherspoon Inst. 130,000 125,000 125,000 (380,000)
Heritage Foundation 48,600 32,850 40,000 (88,450)
Claremont Institute 40,400 38,000 (78,400)
Media Research Center 9,900 14,000 (23,900)
Independence Institute 200,000 263,900 61,500 (525,400)
Becket Fund 260,000
Franklin Center 750,000
Institute For Faith, Work, & Economics 1,969,000
National Organization For Marriage Education Fund 50,500 125,000 (175,000)
Capitol Research Center 40,000
Georgia Family Council 40,000
Mackinac Center 404,000
One Nation Under God (Ken Eldred) 38,000
Vanguard Charitable Endowment Program (Donor Advised Fund)
Vanguard Charitable 2012 990 detail, secular right and religious right orgs, “A” through “C” section of Vanguard 2012 990. [note: plus many, many churches – each bears individual research]
Acton Institute – 53,000
Advancing Native Missions 5,570
Agenda Wise (Texas Tea Party aligned, see: http://www.agendawise.com ) EIN 271365206 – 214,000
Alabama Policy Institute, Inc. 15,000
Alliance Defense Fund – 90,500
American Center For Law and Justice 23,500
American Enterprise Institute 146,000
Americans For Prosperity 110,067
Americans For tax Reform 12,500
Athletes for Christ, Oneco, FL 6,077
Ave Maria University, Inc. 135,750
Ave Maria School of Law 8,000
Ayn Rand Institute – the Center for the Advancement of Objectivism 101,000
Barnabas Group, Inc. 50,000
Barry Goldwater Institute 55,000
Beckett Fund 16,500
Bible League 7,000
Billy Graham Evangelistic Association 141,600
Cadence International 7,000
Calvary Southern Baptist Church, Santa Clara 941666331 1,500,500
Campus Crusade For Christ 327,937
Capitol Research Center 14,000
Cato Institute 1,671,500
Central Oregon Fellowship of Christian Athletes 12,000
Charter School Growth Fund 2,000,000
Child Evangelism Fellowships 18,000
Christian and Missionary Alliance 57,000