Follow The Money: Opponents Of Religious Liberty Spending Large Sums

Some opponents of broad religious freedom protections have spent over $500,000 on advocacy and public relations campaigns related to the Masterpiece Cakeshop Supreme Court decision, a CNA analysis of recent foundation grantmaking has found.

The spending is among at least $2.4 million in new anti-religious freedom grants since October 2017, according to CNA’s analysis. Since 2014 at least $9.9 million in grants from multiple sources have been earmarked to oppose religious freedom protections. The grants generally come from backers of LGBT political causes, legal abortion and mandatory contraception coverage.

After a six-year legal battle, the U.S. Supreme Court backed Phillips, the bakery owner, who in July 2012 had declined a request to create a cake celebrating a same-sex wedding due to his religious beliefs. The court ruled 7-2 in his favor in the June 4, 2018, decision Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.

While the state civil rights board had ordered him to serve same-sex weddings and undergo anti-discrimination training, the Supreme Court overruled the order, saying some commissioners “showed elements of a clear and impermissible hostility toward the sincere religious beliefs motivating his objection.” The decision did not address broad constitutional questions.

That court case was the focus of the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund, a San Francisco-based private family foundation with half a billion dollars in assets. Its website lists multiple grants from 2017 and 2018 dedicated to messaging related to the Masterpiece Cakeshop Case.

The Haas, Jr. Fund gave $200,000 to the National Center for Lesbian Rights for a campaign to “educate the LGBT community” about the importance of the case, and $100,000 to the Equality Federation Institute for the same purpose. It gave $100,000 to the Movement Advancement Project, a key LGBT strategy and communications think tank funded by Colorado entrepreneur Tim Gill, “to develop and test ads and other tools to educate and engage the LGBT community” about the case.

Another $100,000 went to the ACLU Foundation for its LGBT & HIV Project “to coordinate a public education campaign around the Masterpiece Cakeshop Supreme Court case,” while $34,500 went to the Horizons Foundation to “help LGBT Leaders and organizations prepare for a unified response to the Masterpiece Supreme Court decision.” Read more»

Kevin Jones, “Masterpiece Cakeshop case drew $500k in grants from religious freedom foes” (October 25, 2018)

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  • R. Scott Clark
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    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

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  1. The Overbrook Foundation is quoted by one of your sources as a major donor to opposition to religious liberty. I’d like to just emphasise that, founded in the 1940s, it has absolutely no connection with the Overbrook Hospital in Chiang Rai, Thailand, which was founded as a missionary hospital over 30 year earlier.

  2. Dr. Clark,

    I think most of these agencies are getting their money from the taxpayer in the form of “consulting fees” though I can’t prove it. Notice most of these gaygencies are in Taxachussetts or San Francisco. The latter, as you are aware, is a Sodom of hard drug use, homosexuality, and vagrancy. It has single-payer health care and needle exchange programs so it’s a great place to do drugs and engage in other health-destroying activities like sodomy, all on the taxpayer’s dime. Of course, vagrants, sodomites, and IV drug users have the same right to vote you and I have, so they become the voting constituency of those who give them benefits. Taxpayer money can thus be shunted to “charities” that support the behaviors above.

    All this begins at a local level, which the Left calls “grassroots.”

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