“The state of Colorado is ignoring the message of the U.S. Supreme Court by continuing to single out Jack for punishment and to exhibit hostility toward his religious beliefs,” Kristen Waggoner, senior vice president of the U.S. legal division of Alliance Defending Freedom, said in August.
Waggoner’s legal group is representing Phillips, but it declined comment for this story. Phillips has said he has also declined to make a number of other types of cakes, including cakes for Halloween, bachelor parties, divorce, cakes with alcohol in the ingredients, and cakes with atheist messages.
Grant listings and tax forms provide some insight into the strategy, tactics and resources of the large network of advocacy groups, academic projects and other organizations that aim to limit religious freedom protections in the U.S.
Many donors have combined to fund the Rights, Faith & Democracy Collaborative, run out of the Massachusetts-based Proteus Fund. The collaborative’s website says its grantmaking “centers around building a sustainable, cross movement infrastructure capable of developing a unified voice for LGBTQ, RJ(reproductive justice), and faith allies; investing in learning that advances the field; and supporting long-term culture change efforts to move hearts and minds on these issues.”
Since September 2017 the Haas, Jr. Fund has given $200,000 to this project. The Overbrook Foundation has given $125,000, citing the collaborative’s work to curtail “the inappropriate use of religious exemptions to curtail reproductive health, rights and justice, discriminate against members of the LGBTQ community, and otherwise undermine fundamental rights and liberties.” The Moriah Fund gave $35,000, citing its focus on “defeating harmful religious refusal policies.”
Perhaps the largest donor to the anti-religious freedom campaign, the New York-based Arcus Foundation, included $300,000 to the collaborative in its recent grantmaking.
Arcus has given $900,000 in anti-religious freedom grants since September 2017. These include $150,000 for the ACLU’s Religious Exemptions Communications Hub Project, which “spurs communications efforts in driving and shaping the public narrative around religious exemptions that harm or would harm LGBTQ people, women, and religious minorities”; and $200,000 to the Center for American Progress’ Faith and Progressive Policy Initiative “to challenge discriminatory religious exemptions policies, by advancing moral and ethical arguments for faith-centered resistance against conservative policies within the United States,” according to a June 20 news release from the foundation.
Another $125,000 went to support the Columbia Law School’s Public Rights / Private Conscience Project, which the Arcus grant listing characterized as “a thought leader in the development of legal and policy analysis, as well as in the development of messaging that strikes a balance between religious rights and other fundamental rights.”
The Arcus Foundation was launched by billionaire heir Jon Stryker, whose sister Pat Stryker is a major political donor in Colorado. Its board includes Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, which gives out hundreds of millions of dollars in grants each year. In the past, it too has backed the Public Rights / Private Conscience Project.
Religious change is also an object of the funding network.
Chicola, the Haas, Jr. Fund spokesperson, said that in 2007 his employer launched a major initiative backing the Institute for Welcoming Resources and its partners “to help inform hearts and minds on gay equality among people of faith.”
“As a result of this work, thousands more religious leaders and people of faith became advocates, and four of the five major mainline Protestant denominations eventually repealed ant-gay policies,” he said.
The Arcus Foundation has similarly been involved in cultivating allies among religious groups. One of its 2018 anti-religious freedom grants, $125,000 to Dignity USA for the Equally Blessed Coalition, was earmarked for “advocating for LGBTQ acceptance and for an end to harmful religious exemption policies within Catholic communities,” according to the June 20 grant announcement.
The self-described Catholic group rejects Catholic teaching on the immorality of homosexual acts and has called for same-sex unions to be recognized as sacramental.
The Proteus Fund collaborative’s own website says it has given $900,000 in program grants to eight organizations in state-based coalitions. Its grant listings indicate it has funded anti-religious freedom coalition partners in New Mexico and Georgia, and is preparing additional coalitions in Texas and Florida.
Rounding out the full list of recent anti-religious freedom grants, other Haas Jr. Fund spending includes $150,000 to the Pride Foundation; $50,000 to the Center for American Progress “to influence public debates around protecting civil rights protections and safeguarding religious liberties”; and $30,000 to back the Columbia Law School Public Rights/Private Conscience Project.
The Overbrook Foundation’s recent giving included $60,000 to the Lambda Legal Foundation for purposes including opposition to “overly broad” religious exemptions in non-discrimination legislation. Another $25,000 went to litigation program support for the group Freedom for All Americans, citing its work backing anti-discrimination protections for sexual orientation and gender identity and expression “without allowing overly broad and harmful religious exemptions.”
CNA’s focus on grants specifically dealing with religious liberty does not convey the entire financial infrastructure for such organizations, many of which receive large grants for general operating support.
For instance, the Freedom for All Americans Education Fund received $400,000 from the Haas Jr. Fund in 2017 alone. These grants were earmarked for public education, litigation and grantee investment, not for religious freedom specifically. But the Freedom for All Americans’ website indicates it rejects religious exemptions and religious freedom laws.