Non-profit

Freedom From Religion Foundation

Freedom From Religion Foundation Logo (link)
Website:

ffrf.org

Location:

MADISON, WI

Tax ID:

39-1302520

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Budget (2016):

Revenue: $3,938,422
Expenses: $3,635,168
Assets: $15,069,866

Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) is a legal organization founded by atheists to oppose religious expression in the public square. Founded in 1978, FFRF regularly sues schools and municipalities for holding public prayer, displaying religious symbols, and similar activities. [1]

FFRF is often at odds with religious-based legal groups like Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). FFRF sued the IRS for not enforcing pastor neutrality at the pulpit after pastors engaged in political speech on Pulpit Freedom Sunday, a protest event sponsored by ADF. The IRS settled with FFRF. [2]

Funding

Freedom From Religion Foundation took in $5,195,692, spent $5,692,655, and had $15,972,114 in total assets in 2018. [3] Revenues and assets were lower than in 2017, while expenses were higher by over $1.2 million. [4] Almost half of the higher expenses were related to employee salaries and benefits.

FFRF spent nearly $1.15 million on “advertising and promotion” in 2018, almost one-fifth of its expenditures that year. [5]

Over $1.3 million in 2018 was provided to FFRF by dues-paying members, of which FFRF claims 32,000. [6][7] Almost $2.4 million of its revenues came from donations; notable organizational funders include the Adam R. Rose Foundation, the Stiefel Freethought Foundation, and the Craigslist Charitable Fund. Other donors funded FFRF with donor-advised funds through Fidelity Investments Charitable Gift Fund and Schwab Charitable Fund. [8]

Programs

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has a number of minor and major programs. [9] Its minor programs include cash awards for winners of student essay competitions, a monthly newspaper, books and other literature, and sending staff members to events and debates. It gave $56,750 in essay awards in 2018 and had 585,000 downloads of its podcast in 2017. [10][11]

FFRF’s major program is litigation against public displays of religious symbolism or religious practice, which it claims violate the Constitutional prohibition on the establishment of religion. [12] It regularly sues municipalities, public schools, and other government entities to prevent prayer, remove religious symbols, and prohibit other customary displays of civil religion.

It won a number of cases in 2018, including removal of a nativity scene from a public school. Approximately 500 of its legal letters and threats of legal action issued in 2018 were against schools. [13]

In 2019, it forced an Ohio school to remove a plaque bearing the Ten Commandments. However, a right-leaning religious liberty group, First Liberty Institute, said that the FFRF argument is in contrast to a U.S. Supreme Court decision made in June 2019 in favor of religious symbols on public property. [14]

FFRF settled with the Obama administration in 2014 after the IRS agreed to monitor pastor speech at the pulpit. FFRF had filed a lawsuit in 2012 accusing the IRS of not enforcing the Johnson Amendment, a 1954 law which, among other things, bans pastors at tax-exempt churches from engaging in political speech at the pulpit. A FFRF spokesperson later told LifeSiteNews that the lawsuit was dropped because the IRS agreed to greater oversight of non-profit organizations. [15]

FFRF also engages in lobbying in Washington, D.C. A June 10, 2019 blog post on FFRF’s website claims credit for the House Committee on Ways and Means dropping an amendment which would allow tax-free 529 education accounts to pay for educational expenses for homeschooled and privately-educated students. [16][17] FFRF claims that its lobbyist and an allied group convinced Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) to abandon the amendment. However, the Washington Examiner reported that the amendment passed the Committee with bipartisan support and was later stripped in the House Rules Committee thanks to pressure from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). [18][19]

Leadership

Annie Laurie Gaylor and her husband Dan Barker served as co-presidents of Freedom From Religion Foundation in 2017. Gaylor earned a total of $119,586 and Barker earned a total of $111,157. [20] [21]

Gaylor helped co-found FFRF with her mother, Anne Nicol Gaylor, who died in 2015. [22][23] Barker is a former preacher who has been an advocate for atheism since the 1980s. [24]

Gaylor and Barker serve on the Board of Directors of the Women’s Medical Fund, an abortion charity co-founded by Gaylor’s mother. More than 14,000 women have received financial assistance from the Fund for abortions. [25][26]

Rebecca Markert is FFRF’s legal director. She was the first in-house staff attorney at FFRF in 2008 after working for then-U.S. Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI). Markert is admitted to practice in Wisconsin, Michigan, three federal District Courts, and the U.S. Supreme Court. [27]

References

  1. Freedom From Religion Foundation, 2018 Annual Report, Accessed July 5, 2019. https://ffrf.org/images/yearinreview2018.pdf ^
  2. Dustin Siggins, “IRS agrees to monitor sermons in settlement with atheists,” July 23, 2014. Accessed July 5, 2019. https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/irs-agrees-to-monitor-sermons-in-settlement-with-atheists ^
  3. Freedom From Religion Foundation, 2018 Consolidated Financial Report, Accessed July 5, 2019. https://ffrf.org/uploads/images/2018FreedomFromReligionFS12.31.18.pdf ^
  4. Freedom From Religion Foundation, 2017 990, Accessed July 5, 2019. https://ffrf.org/images/2017-Form990.pdf ^
  5. Freedom From Religion Foundation, 2018 Consolidated Financial Report, Accessed July 5, 2019. https://ffrf.org/uploads/images/2018FreedomFromReligionFS12.31.18.pdf ^
  6. Freedom From Religion Foundation, 2018 Annual Report, Accessed July 5, 2019. https://ffrf.org/images/yearinreview2018.pdf ^
  7. Freedom From Religion Foundation, 2018 Consolidated Financial Report, Accessed July 5, 2019. https://ffrf.org/uploads/images/2018FreedomFromReligionFS12.31.18.pdf ^
  8. Data compiled by FoundationSearch.com subscription service, a project of Metasoft Systems, Inc., from forms filed with the IRS. Queries conducted July 10, 2019. ^
  9. Freedom From Religion Foundation, About the Foundation FAQ, Accessed July 5, 2019. https://ffrf.org/faq/item/15000-what-are-the-foundations-accomplishments ^
  10. Freedom From Religion Foundation, 2018 Annual Report, Accessed July 5, 2019. https://ffrf.org/images/yearinreview2018.pdf ^
  11. Freedom From Religion Foundation, 2017 990, Accessed July 5, 2019. https://ffrf.org/images/2017-Form990.pdf ^
  12. Freedom From Religion Foundation, About the Foundation FAQ, Accessed July 5, 2019. https://ffrf.org/faq/item/15000-what-are-the-foundations-accomplishments ^
  13. Freedom From Religion Foundation, 2018 Annual Report, Accessed July 5, 2019. https://ffrf.org/images/yearinreview2018.pdf ^
  14. Caleb Parke, “Ohio school scrubs 92-year old Ten Commandments plaque after atheists complain,” July 1, 2019. Accessed July 5, 2019. https://www.foxnews.com/us/ohio-school-atheist-complain-ten-commandments ^
  15. Siggins, Dustin. “IRS Agrees to Monitor Sermons in Settlement with Atheists.” LifeSiteNews. July 23, 2014. Accessed July 18, 2019. https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/irs-agrees-to-monitor-sermons-in-settlement-with-atheists. ^
  16. Mark Dann, “Meet Mark Dann: Working for you on Capitol Hill,” June 10, 2019. Accessed July 5, 2019. https://ffrf.org/news/news-releases/item/34886-meet-mark-dann-working-for-you-on-capitol-hill ^
  17. Ernst & Young, “Ways & Means approves tax extenders bill,” June 21, 2019. Accessed July 5, 2019. https://taxnews.ey.com/news/2019-1140-ways-and-means-approves-tax-extenders-bill ^
  18. Naomi Lim, “House Republican rips Democrats for stripping SECURE Act of provisions helping home-schooled children,” May 22, 2019. Accessed July 5, 2019. https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/house-republican-rips-democrats-for-stripping-secure-act-of-provisions-helping-home-schooled-children ^
  19. Tom Hebert, “Senate should restore 529 expansion as it considers SECURE Act,” June 11, 2019. Accessed July 5, 2019. https://www.atr.org/senate-should-restore-529-expansion-it-considers-secure-act ^
  20. Freedom From Religion Foundation, Annie Laurie Gaylor, Accessed July 5, 2019. https://ffrf.org/about/getting-acquainted/annie-laurie-gaylor ^
  21. Freedom From Religion Foundation, 2017 990, Accessed July 5, 2019. https://ffrf.org/images/2017-Form990.pdf ^
  22. Freedom From Religion Foundation, Annie Laurie Gaylor, Accessed July 5, 2019.

    https://ffrf.org/about/getting-acquainted/annie-laurie-gaylor ^

  23. Freedom From Religion Foundation, 2018 Annual Report, Accessed July 5, 2019. https://ffrf.org/images/yearinreview2018.pdf ^
  24. Freedom From Religion Foundation, Executive Board of Directors, Accessed July 5, 2019. https://ffrf.org/about/getting-acquainted/itemlist/category/645-board-of-directors ^
  25. Freedom From Religion Foundation, Annie Laurie Gaylor, Accessed July 5, 2019.

    https://ffrf.org/about/getting-acquainted/annie-laurie-gaylor ^

  26. Women’s Medical Fund, We Who Are, Accessed July 5, 2019. https://wmfwisconsin.org/who-we-are ^
  27. Freedom From Religion Foundation, Executive Board of Directors, Accessed July 5, 2019. https://ffrf.org/about/getting-acquainted/itemlist/category/645-board-of-directors ^
  See an error? Let us know!

Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: August 1, 1978

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2016 Dec Form 990 $3,938,422 $3,635,168 $15,069,866 $206,356 N $3,397,041 $59,859 $98,678 $220,478
    2015 Dec Form 990 $4,931,682 $3,765,032 $14,673,296 $187,009 N $4,827,103 $56,140 $50,468 $195,307 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $4,263,502 $2,465,656 $13,790,767 $440,727 N $4,087,921 $66,950 $69,450 $194,705 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $3,878,938 $2,163,375 $11,857,996 $338,226 N $3,668,458 $51,789 $123,197 $214,549 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $3,075,998 $2,240,502 $9,842,021 $66,991 N $2,726,316 $118,446 $182,751 $216,228 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $2,701,499 $1,518,607 $8,928,763 $27,831 N $2,426,297 $40,639 $190,743 $206,182 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Freedom From Religion Foundation

    10 N HENRY ST
    MADISON, WI 53703-2709