Non-profit

Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC)

Website:

rcrc.org

Location:

WASHINGTON, DC

Tax ID:

52-1213972

Budget (2016):

Revenue: $1,881,787
Expenses: $1,464,993
Assets: $3,909,498

Formation:

1967

Type:

Abortion Advocacy Group

Formerly:

Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights (1973-1993)

Clergy Consultation Service (1967-1973)

President:

Harry Knox (2012-Present)

Carlton Veazey (Until 2011)

The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC) is a center-left interfaith nonprofit that advocates for expanded abortion access as well as a host of center-left policies, including LGBTQ issues, illegal immigration, environmentalism, and “economic justice.” RCRC typically lobbies against state and federal bans on public funding of abortions, legislation and ballot measures granting legal personhood to fertilized eggs and fetuses, bans on abortions of fetuses after 20 weeks, and the confirmation of conservative justices to the U.S. Supreme Court. [1]

RCRC promotes “sexuality [as] a sacred gift,” calling sex and sexuality “a part of an individual’s well-being and as an element of human relationships which deserves respect, honesty and compassion.” The group opposes abstinence-until-marriage policies. [2] RCRC opposes what it deems “religious traditions . . . which subjugate the bodies of women and girls” and lauds “the sacredness of sex and sexuality.” [3] The group also seeks to overturn the Hyde Amendment, a federal law prohibiting the use of federal funds for abortions except in extreme circumstances. [4]

RCRC was a member of Health Care for America Now (HCAN), a left-of-center national advocacy campaign created to support the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). [5]

Background

RCRC was founded in 1967 as Clergy Consultation Service, which referred women to abortion clinics prior to the federal legalization of most abortions under the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade. The group was founded in the United Methodist Building in Washington, D.C. [6] Following the Roe v. Wade decision, the group was renamed Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights. In 1993, the group adopting its current name. [7]

The group was formed by a coalition of liberal Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish churches and religious groups. RCRC’s startup funding came from the Playboy Foundation, a now-defunct foundation associated with the adult media brand Playboy Enterprises; later funding came from left-leaning foundations, including the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation and the Ford Foundation. [8]

Membership

RCRC’s coalition is composed of 26 members. Its members consist of Christian churches and Jewish religious groups as well as religiously aligned abortion activist groups and at least one secular organization, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL):

  • American Jewish Committee
  • American Jewish Congress
  • Anti-Defamation League
  • Catholics for Choice
  • Central Conference of American Rabbis
  • Disciples for Choice
  • Episcopal Church
  • Episcopal Women’s Caucus
  • Jewish Reconstructionist Movement
  • Jewish Women International
  • Lutheran Women’s Caucus
  • Methodist Federation for Social Action
  • Metropolitan Community Church
  • NA’AMAT USA
  • National Council of Jewish Women
  • Presbyterian Mission Agency
  • Presbyterians Affirming Reproductive Options (PARO)
  • Rabbinical Assembly
  • Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association
  • Society for Humanistic Judaism
  • Union for Reform Judaism
  • Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations
  • Unitarian Universalist Women’s Federation
  • United Church of Christ
  • Women of Reform Judaism
  • Women’s League for Conservative Judaism

In May 2016, the annual General Conference of the United Methodist Church voted 561 to 197 to withdraw its boards and agencies from the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. The RCRC was founded in 1973 in the United Methodist Building in Washington, D.C.; from 1973 to 2016, two United Methodist Church agencies, the General Board of the Church and Society and the United Methodist Women, were members of RCRC. [9]

State Affiliates

RCRC lists state affiliates in 12 states: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. [10]

Political Activism

RCRC has been involved in pushing a left-of-center political agenda since its inception in 1967.

Among its many claims of “advocacy action,” RCRC lists “opposing the appointment of Justices Samuel Alito and John Roberts to the U.S. Supreme Court”; supporting the “right of publicly funded healthcare institutions to provide abortion services”; “rallying clergy to defeat abortion bans in South Dakota in 2006 and 2008,” referring to failed ballot measures Referendum 6 (2006) and Initiative 11 (2008); lobbying against an Indiana law banning abortion of fetuses with fetal anomalies, including Down Syndrome; and defeating Florida’s Amendment 6 (2012), which would have banned public funding of groups that perform abortions; and defeating a 2013 ban on abortion of fetuses after 20 weeks in New Mexico. The group also seeks to overturn the Hyde Amendment, a federal law prohibiting the use of federal funds for abortions except in extreme circumstances. [11] [12]

RCRC was a member of Health Care for America Now (HCAN), a left-of-center national advocacy campaign created to support the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). [13]

RCRC Vote and Advocacy Work

RCRC Vote is a project of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice aimed at promoting left-wing activism. Through its Vote program, the group pushes sex education in public schools “as a moral responsibility to our young people,” encourages openly gay and lesbian involvement in “religious life,” and promotes clergy to “pray quietly with women making reproductive decisions.” [14]

RCRC endorsed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (better known as “Obamacare”) for including contraception with no co-pays, has petitioned the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to provide abortion services to teenage illegal immigrants in the U.S., and advocated for abortion access for women in the U.S. Armed Forces. [15]

The group also filed amicus curiae briefs in the 2016 U.S. Supreme Court case Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstadt, which overturned two provisions in Texas law requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. [16]

Conspiracy Theories

RCRC has promoted conspiracy theories that “religious conservatives are working to Christianize America one state at a time.” [17] The group regularly tweets extreme statements criticizing religious conservative groups for what it terms “Christian Nationalism,” accusing them of trying to turn the country into a Christian “theocracy.” [18]

Criticism of Trump Judicial Nominees

RCRC has criticized the Trump administration’s nominees for federal courts, writing in February 2019: “Our federal courts need a diverse group of fair and independent judges. That’s not what we’re getting.” [19]

In November 2018, RCRC published an open letter urging senators to oppose the confirmation of U.S. District Court judge Thomas Farr, claiming Farr “has actively worked to suppress the votes of people of color in North Carolina.” [20]

In October 2018, RCRC stated that it was “outraged at the Senate’s confirmation of [Justice] Brett Kavanaugh to a lifetime seat on the U.S. Supreme Court,” claiming that he “will put vital civil and human rights such as reproductive freedom, religious freedom and immigrant rights in jeopardy.” The group criticized Maine Sen. Susan Collins (R) for voting to confirm Kavanaugh, writing that “we place an especially heavy responsibility for this confirmation on [her].” [21] In April 2019, the group tweeted that it “is among the organizations calling on key U.S. House committees to investigate the sham confirmation process that brought [Brett Kavanaugh] to the Supreme Court.” [22]

“Southern Project”

RCRC runs a campaign called the “Southern Project” intended to promote abortion access in southern states. RCRC has criticized southern states as “an incubator for conservative political strategies which spread across the country” and claimed that “religious faith narratives in the South oppress marginalized people such as women, people of color and LGBTQ people.” RCRC developed a program under the Southern Project “to engage Black pastors in the South” in support of greater abortion access. [23]

Under the Southern Project, RCRC opposed Georgia’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (2016), which would have limited the state government’s ability to pass laws that conflict with religious beliefs. RCRC also supported “a ban on assault weapons” in Georgia. [24]

Other Programs

The “Theologies Program” promotes the involvement of left-wing religious scholars and theologians in political issues, primarily abortion access. The program also seeks to instill theologians and scholars with left-wing ideology, particularly concerning abortion, and connects them with professional abortion activists. [25]

The RCRC opposes what it deems “religious traditions . . . which subjugate the bodies of women and girls” and lauds “the sacredness of sex and sexuality.” [26] The group provides “compassionate care training” to “provide judgment-free emotional and spiritual support” for congregations “to become more effective advocates for reproductive freedom.” [27]

Controversies

Sexual Harassment

In March 2019, abortion advocate Willie Parker resigned from his position as RCRC board vice chair over accusations of raping Candice Russell, an abortion activist with the National Network of Abortion Funds and a board member for NARAL Pro-Choice Texas. [28] [29] Parker later responded that he “never had sex with anyone without obtaining their consent or giving [his].” [30]

Parker is chairman of the board of directors of Physicians for Reproductive Health, a recipient of Planned Parenthood’s Margaret Sanger award (2015), and recipient of NARAL Pro Choice America’s “Champions of Choice” award. He formerly worked as medical director of Planned Parenthood Metropolitan Washington D.C.[31]

Leadership

President and CEO

Harry Knox is president and chief executive officer of the RCRC, a position he has held since 2012. Knox, a professional political activist, previously worked as founding director for the religion and faith program of the Human Rights Campaign, a center-left gay marriage advocacy group. Prior to that, Knox was program director for the gay marriage campaign Freedom to Marry. Knox holds a Master’s of Divinity/Ministry degree from Lancaster Theological Seminary. [32]

According to a biography on the Huffington Post, Knox was executive director of the gay marriage campaign George Equality and a staffer with Equality Florida. In 2009, President Barack Obama appointed Knox to the White House’s Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. [33]

Knox is frequent contributor to the center-left Huffington Post and a critic of religious liberty, the Hyde Amendment (which blocks federal funding of abortions in most circumstances), and the Republican Party. In August 2012, Knox criticized then-Republican Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan (R-WI) for holding “anti-family, anti-woman policies” and taking a “radical stand against the freedoms and moral agency of women.” [34] In March 2015, Knox wrote a piece entitled “Thank God for Abortion Providers,” identifying abortion providers as “martyrs.” [35]

In July 2015, Knox co-authored an article alongside Secular Coalition for America executive director Kelly Damerow entitled “Religious Liberty Is a Shield and Not a Sword” in which he criticized religious conservatives for using First Amendment protections of religious liberty to halt laws requiring employers to provide contraceptives to employees despite their religious convictions against contraception. [36]

Carlton Veazey was president and chief executive officer of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice until 2011. [37] Veazey is ordained as a minister in the National Baptist Convention, U.S.A. and is pastor of the Fellowship Bapist Church. In 1993, he was removed from his position as pastor of Zion Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. by a vote of the congregation; Veazey had previously been accused of “fak[ing] a coronary” and “consort[ing] with women not his wife.” [38]

In 2005, Veazey claimed the Bush administration and conservative Christians were attempting to turn the United States into a “theocracy”: [39]

The nation is not yet a theocracy, if mullah-run Iran or Taliban-controlled Afghanistan is the standard. But after four years of unprecedented access, far-right Christian fundamentalists are deeply embedded in government structures and ready to call the shots over the biggest prize, the U. S. Supreme Court. We are on the brink of a de-facto [sic] Christian state, and we should be very frightened for the future of religious freedom and diversity.

Co-Executive Directors

RCRC lists three co-executive directors on its website. [40]

Delia Allen-O’Brien is executive for operations and finance.

Cari Jackson is executive for religious leadership and advocacy and an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, a theologically liberal denomination. [41]

Lisa Weiner-Mahfuz is executive for program and strategic partnerships. Weiner-Mahfuz is the founder of Intersections Consulting, a left-wing “social justice” advocacy consultancy. She previously worked as director of capacity building for the left-wing National LGBTQ Task Force, senior field organizer for the National Organization for Women (NOW), a field organizer for PFLAG National/Straight for Equality, and an organizer for National Organizers Alliance. [42]

Board of Directors

RCRC lists the following members of its board of directors: Linda Jaramillo; Deborah Tanno; Bill Sinkford; Elizabeth Kaeton; Joan Lamunyon Sanford; and John Selders. [43]

Funding

The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice was formed with startup funding the Playboy Foundation, a now-defunct foundation associated with the adult media brand Playboy Enterprises, and later the Ford Foundation. [44]

Between 1999 and 2017, RCRC and its state affiliates received $28.3 million in grants from a number of left-wing organizations. Of that sum, $13.1 million was granted to the group by the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, a center-left funder affiliated with the family of liberal billionaire Warren Buffett. Other notable funders include the Open Society Foundations (formerly Institute), Ford FoundationTides Foundation, Moriah Fund, Proteus Fund, and Hewlett Foundation. [45]

Religious Coalition for Reproductive Health: Notable Grants
Sum:$18,798,944
GrantmakerAmountDate Range
Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation$13,142,7432001-2013
Ford Foundation$2,682,5452000-2011
Open Society Foundations$1,487,5001999-2001
Hewlett Foundation$700,0002002-2009
Moriah Fund$395,0001999-2014
Tides Foundation$391,1561999-2008

According to its 2017 IRS filing (Form 990), RCRC reported total revenues of $829,312, total expenditures of $1,405,840, and net assets of $3,275,635. [46]

According to its 2016 IRS filing (Form 990), RCRC reported total revenues of $1,881,787, total expenditures of $1,464,993, and net assets of $3,745,625. [47]

References

  1. “History.” Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. Accessed April 22, 2019. http://rcrc.org/history/ ^
  2. “Reproductive Health.” Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. Accessed April 22, 2019. http://rcrc.org/reproductive-health/ ^
  3. “Theologies Program.” Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. Accessed April 22, 2019. http://rcrc.org/theologies-program/ ^
  4. “Advocacy.” Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. Accessed April 22, 2019. http://rcrc.org/advocacy/ ^
  5. “Health Care for America Now: Campaign Membership.” HCAN. Accessed April 26, 2019. Available: https://www.influencewatch.org/app/uploads/2019/04/HCAN-Membership.pdf ^
  6. Rev. Paul T. Stallsworth. “The United Methodist Church leaves The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.” NRL News Today. June 6, 2016. Accessed April 22, 2019. https://www.nationalrighttolifenews.org/2016/06/the-united-methodist-church-leaves-the-religious-coalition-for-reproductive-choice/ ^
  7. “History.” Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. Accessed April 22, 2019. http://rcrc.org/history/ ^
  8. Mark Tooley. “Aborting Churches.” National Review Online. February 10, 2006. Accessed April 22, 2019. https://www.nationalreview.com/2006/02/aborting-churches-mark-tooley/ ^
  9. Rev. Paul T. Stallsworth. “The United Methodist Church leaves The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.” NRL News Today. June 6, 2016. Accessed April 22, 2019. https://www.nationalrighttolifenews.org/2016/06/the-united-methodist-church-leaves-the-religious-coalition-for-reproductive-choice/ ^
  10. “Affiliates.” Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. Accessed April 22, 2019. http://rcrc.org/affiliates/ ^
  11. “History.” Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. Accessed April 22, 2019. http://rcrc.org/history/ ^
  12. “Advocacy.” Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. Accessed April 22, 2019. http://rcrc.org/advocacy/ ^
  13. “Health Care for America Now: Campaign Membership.” HCAN. Accessed April 26, 2019. Available: https://www.influencewatch.org/app/uploads/2019/04/HCAN-Membership.pdf ^
  14. “Advocacy.” Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. Accessed April 22, 2019. http://rcrc.org/advocacy/ ^
  15. “Advocacy.” Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. Accessed April 22, 2019. http://rcrc.org/advocacy/ ^
  16. Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstadt. Amicus Filing. Supreme Court of the United States. https://www.reproductiverights.org/sites/crr.civicactions.net/files/documents/Judson%20Memorial%20Church%20Patterson.pdf ^
  17. Tweet (@RCRC). April 12, 2019. Accessed April 22, 2019. https://twitter.com/RCRChoice/status/1116793107411083264 ^
  18. Tweet (@RCRC). March 29, 2019. Accessed April 22, 2019. https://twitter.com/RCRChoice/status/1111737590485536769 ^
  19. “Press Release: RCRC DOUBTS TRUMP’S JUDICIAL NOMINEES WILL JUDGE FEDERAL CASES IMPARTIALLY.” Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. February 22, 2019. Accessed April 22, 2019. http://rcrc.org/rcrc-statement-on-trumps-judicial-nominees/ ^
  20. “Press Release: Letter to Senators Opposing Thomas Farr Court Nomination.” Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. November 20, 2018. Accessed April 22, 2019. http://rcrc.org/letter-to-senators-opposing-thomas-farr/ ^
  21. “Press Release: Statement on Senate Approval of Brett Kavanaugh to Supreme Court.” Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. October 6, 2018. Accessed April 22, 2019. http://rcrc.org/statement-on-senate-approval-of-brett-kavanaugh-to-supreme-court/ ^
  22. Tweet (@RCRC). April 13, 2019. Accessed April 22, 2019. https://twitter.com/RCRChoice/status/1117042248808419328 ^
  23. “Southern Project.” Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. Accessed April 22, 2019. http://rcrc.org/southern-project/ ^
  24. “Southern Project.” Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. Accessed April 22, 2019. http://rcrc.org/southern-project/ ^
  25. “Theologies Program.” Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. Accessed April 22, 2019. http://rcrc.org/theologies-program/ ^
  26. “Theologies Program.” Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. Accessed April 22, 2019. http://rcrc.org/theologies-program/ ^
  27. “Compassionate Care.” Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. Accessed April 22, 2019. http://rcrc.org/compassionate-care/ ^
  28. “Candice Russell, Freelance Writer.” Self. Accessed April 22, 2019. https://www.self.com/contributor/candice-russell ^
  29. Candice Russell. “To All the Women Whose Names I Don’t Know, About the Pain We Share, the Secrets We Keep, and the Silence that Shouldn’t Have Been Asked for.” Medium. March 25, 2019. Accessed April 22, 2019. https://medium.com/@contact_19042/to-all-the-women-whose-names-i-dont-know-about-the-pain-we-share-the-secrets-we-keep-and-the-6e7d4a79905e?fbclid=IwAR1cOPs_XQHvrvEtFe-hDuYRx__1HEUr3u9JO_QBMNt4NykRsLaHRXpyJh4 ^
  30. Dennis Carter. “Reproductive Rights Groups Reckon With Sexual Misconduct Allegation Against Dr. Willie Parker (Updated).” Rewire News. March 26, 2019. Accessed April 22, 2019. https://rewire.news/article/2019/03/26/reproductive-rights-groups-reckon-with-sexual-misconduct-allegations-against-dr-willie-parker/ ^
  31. “About.” Dr. Willie Parker. Accessed April 22, 2019. https://www.drwillieparker.com/about ^
  32. “Harry Knox.” LinkedIn. Accessed April 29, 2019. https://www.linkedin.com/in/harry-knox-a314a3a1/ ^
  33. “Harry Knox (author page).” Huffington Post. Accessed April 29, 2019. https://www.huffpost.com/author/harry-knox ^
  34. Harry Knox. “Where’s the Love in Choosing Paul Ryan?” Huffington Post. August 13, 2012. Accessed April 29, 2019. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/wheres-the-love-in-choosing-paul-ryan_b_1773695 ^
  35. Harry Knox. “Thank God for Abortion Providers.” Huffington Post. March 10, 2015. Accessed April 29, 2019. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/thank-god-for-abortion-providers_b_6836266 ^
  36. Harry Knox. “Religious Liberty Is a Shield and Not a Sword.” Huffington Post. July 1, 2015. Accessed April 29, 2019. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/post_b_7702140 ^
  37. “Reverend Carlton Wadsworth Veazey.” Fellowship Baptist Church. Accessed April 22, 2019. http://fellowshipbaptistchurchdc.org/profile/reverend-carlton-wadsworth-veazey/ ^
  38. Mary Ann French. “JUDGMENT DAY AT ZION.” Washington Post. July 15, 1993. Accessed April 22, 2019. https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/1993/07/15/judgment-day-at-zion/59d16ea7-7f81-4284-a9fb-570e4b0e2a1c/?utm_term=.8bb1bd2ee828 ^
  39. Carlton Veazey. “Theocracy Now?” BeliefNet. May 2005. Accessed April 22, 2019. https://www.beliefnet.com/news/2005/05/theocracy-now.aspx ^
  40. “Leadership.” Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. Accessed April 26, 2019. http://rcrc.org/leadership/ ^
  41. “Her Work.” Dr. Cari Jackson (personal website). Accessed April 26, 2019. http://www.drcarijackson.com/her-work.html ^
  42. “Lisa Weiner-Mahfuz.” LinkedIn. Accessed April 26, 2019. https://www.linkedin.com/in/lisa-weiner-mahfuz-71347b114/ ^
  43. “Leadership.” Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. Accessed April 26, 2019. http://rcrc.org/leadership/ ^
  44. Mark Tooley. “Aborting Churches.” National Review Online. February 10, 2006. Accessed April 22, 2019. https://www.nationalreview.com/2006/02/aborting-churches-mark-tooley/ ^
  45. Information provided by FoundationSearch: “Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.” Accessed April 22, 2019. FoundationSearch.com ^
  46. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. 2017. Schedule A, Part I . Lines 12, 18, 22. Available: https://www.influencewatch.org/app/uploads/2019/04/Religious-Coalition-for-Reproductive-Choice-2017-Form-990.pdf ^
  47. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. 2017. Schedule A, Part I . Lines 12, 18, 22. Available: https://www.influencewatch.org/app/uploads/2019/04/Religious-Coalition-for-Reproductive-Choice-2016-Form-990.pdf ^

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Willie Parker
    Former Board Member (until March 2019)
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: December 1, 1980

  • 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 $1,881,787 $1,464,993 $3,909,498 $163,873 N $1,875,998 $0 $26,415 $282,351
    2015 Dec Form 990 $1,149,836 $1,440,304 $3,380,328 $88,276 N $1,146,016 $0 $10,206 $331,501 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $510,296 $1,449,630 $3,759,867 $138,885 N $500,547 $0 $6,610 $333,303 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $3,176,615 $1,500,371 $4,651,800 $91,484 N $3,160,392 $0 $8,675 $137,267 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $780,841 $1,658,245 $2,954,616 $70,544 N $764,947 $0 $14,402 $156,330 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $663,007 $2,002,246 $3,914,672 $153,196 N $621,799 $0 $17,112 $333,803 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC)

    1413 K ST NW 14TH FL
    WASHINGTON, DC 20005-3405