In 2013 the National Christian Foundation was ranked, by the Chronicle of Philanthropy, as America’s 12th biggest charity. Since then, NCF has gotten bigger and in 2014 reported dispersing $875 million in grants, to over 17,000 groups. NCF is by far the largest charity represented at the annual philanthropic conference known as The Gathering, whose community of donors functions, as detailed in a April 30, 2014 Twocare.org report, as The Religious Right’s Cash Cow. Collectively, the foundations represented at The Gathering disperse over $1 billion in grants per year.
As Twocare.org has been documenting, the National Christian Foundation is probably the biggest anti-LGBT rights funder in America.
So it is not altogether surprising that NCF money helped underwrite the November 6-7 Freedom 2015 conference that featured a public call for the mass execution of millions of American citizens, in the event they would not repent for their sexual orientation.
Freedom 2015 featured no less than three pastors who have made calls for the imposition of the death penalty for homosexual acts. Making onstage appearances at the event were the following 2016 election presidential contenders: U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee.
Here’s a list of National Christian Foundation 2013 funded groups that were listed as cosponsors of Freedom 2015 (note: I’ve cross-referenced the EIN numbers given on the cosponsor websites linked to by the Freedom 2015 website, with EIN numbers provided on the NCF’s 2013 IRS tax form, the most recent tax form submission currently available from NCF.) :
Illinois Christian Home Educators (EIN 36-3336943) – $1,500
Samaritan Ministries International (EIN 37-1295601) – $8,445
Heritage Defense (EIN 27-1286880) – $36,000
The Family Leader Foundation (EIN 42-1461169) – $82,000
Liberty Institute (EIN 75-1403169) – $183,600
American Family Association (EIN 64-0607275) – $208,554
Total – $520,099
So, the National Christian Foundation has financially supported six of the twelve listed cosponsors of Freedom 2015; and that’s far from the only funding stream to cosponsors of Freedom 2015 from philanthropies associated with the National Christian Foundation and The Gathering.
One example, as detailed in an October 2014 Twocare.org report, was two charitable foundations associated with the Bengard family, which earned its fortune from farming in California’s fertile Salinas Valley.
One of the top donors to the 2008 California anti-gay marriage Proposition 8 effort, the Bengard family has two significant foundations closely linked to the National Christian Foundation and which provide heavy financial support for groups such as the American Family Association and the Family Research Council – both identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as anti-LGBT hate groups.
In 2013, the Bengard family’s It Takes a Family Foundation (EIN #58-2276414) gave out $977,077 in grants. Over one half of that funding stream, $500,000, went to the American Family Association and the Family Research Council, which each got $250,000.
The Bengard family’s two foundations are closely linked to the National Christian Foundation, as detailed in my October 2014 Twocare.org report:
“Terrill A. Parker [one of three co-founder of the National Christian Foundation] is also on the board of the Bengard Foundation, of the CA-based Bengard family, whose principal officer is Thomas Bengard (who donated $50,000 to pass California’s anti-same sex marriage Proposition 8.)
Also on the Bengard Foundation board is Kim C. Bengard, who along with Thomas Bengard serves on the board of the Bengard family’s other charitable foundation and also on the board of the Family Research Council (along with Terry Parker and with other heavyweight religious right financiers such as Elsa Prince Broekhuizen, mother of Blackwater founder Erik Prince and The Gathering featured speaker Betsy DeVos – who joined her husband Dick DeVos in a featured presentation to The Gathering 2001. Joining Family Research Council leadership in 2013 as one of its Vice Presidents was Former Undersecretary of Defense Jerry Boykin.)
On its first 2011 990 tax form (filed for the first half of 2011) The Bengard Foundation stated that its purpose was to “operate for the benefit of, perform the functions of, or to carry out the purposes of the National Christian Foundation, Inc.”
The Bengard Foundation is one of two conjoined Bengard charitable entities. It appears to have been created and capitalized in 2011. In the second half of 2011, the Section 4947(a)(1) Nonexempt Charitable Trust (Bengard) gave $829,766, the majority of it to anti-LGBT Christian culture war groups:
– Including $200,000 to the American Family Association (perhaps the most virulently hateful of the major Christian right anti-LGBT organizations), $175,000 to the Family Research Council, $100,000 to Rick Warren’s Orange County, CA-based Saddleback Church, $10,000 to the California Family Council, $20,000 to the California Family Policy Center, $10,000 to the CA-based Pacific Justice Institute, $30,000 to Gary Bauer’s American Values, $5,000 to Focus on The Family, $5,000 to the CO-based John Jay Institute, $7,000 to the National Day of Prayer (headed Shirley Dobson) and $1,000 to the National Organization for Marriage.
But the next year – in sync with National Christian Foundation funding of NOM, which only began in 2008 and reached its yearly high in 2012, at $117,000 – another Bengard Foundation began much more substantial funding of NOM.
In 2012, the only one from among those anti-LGBT Christian right culture war groups that were funded directly by the Bengard Foundation in 2011 which still get Bengard Foundation money was the Pacific Justice Institute, which received $10,000 from Bengard. But that’s true simply because the Bengard family shifted its anti-gay charitable dollars to its other foundation. The vast bulk of Bengard’s granting in 2012 – an astounding $9,525,132 – went to the other Bengard family foundation: the “It Takes A Family Foundation”.
That major infusion of cash re-capitalized the It Takes A Family Foundation and restored the foundation’s sagging ability (its granting had dwindled from $368,220 in 2007 to a mere $5,000 in 2011) to function as a cash cow funding the culture wars. The new funds allowed ITAFF to give out $756,925 in grants in FY 2012, including:
$10,000 to the John Jay Foundation, $3,000 to the “Manhatan [sic] Declaration”, $175,000 to Saddleback Church, $20,000 to the Pacific Justice Institute, $1,000 to the National Day of Prayer, $5,000 to Focus On The Family, $2,500 to the Council For National Policy, $1,500 to The Navigators (which in 1994 hosted one of the most important anti-LGBT rights conferences of the decade), $25,000 to American Values, $500 to Exodus International, $100,000 to the American Family Association, $200,000 to the Family Research Council, and $30,000 to the National Organization for Marriage.
Managing the tax paperwork for both Bengard Family Foundations has been the Atlanta, Georgia-based Ronald Blue & Co. LLC. Ron Blue, another surprisingly obscure Christian right financial wizard and one of the three co-founders of the National Christian Foundation along with Terry Parker and the late Christian financial adviser Larry Burkett – who in turn was also a co-founder of the Alliance Defense Fund (now “Alliance Defending Freedom”) that is, according to Human Rights Campaign Vice President Fred Sainz “easily the most active antigay legal group”.”