The Templetons give huge donations to anti-gay organization

April 16, 2012 • 5:57 am

A h/t to erv for telling me about this (see her post here): the 2008 tax returns of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), listing all their donors (a list that’s confidential), were leaked to the Huffington Post The NOM accuses the Internal Revenue Service itself for the leak.

Established in 2007, the NOM is dedicated to preserving marriage in America as a union only between a male and female.  It works tirelessly to quash state bills that allow same-sex marriage and to support initiatives (like California’s Proposition 8) that prohibit it. NOM also fights against adoption by same-sex couples. It’s an odious organization that has engaged in many questionable tactics.  Here’s one tactic, taken from the Wikipedia article on NOM:

In March 2012, NOM documents showing their strategies of pitting the African-American and homosexual communities against each other, of discouraging Latino assimilation, and of painting Obama as a “social radical” were released by a federal judge in Maine and published by the Human Rights Campaign.[132][133][134] The revealed tactics were described as “one of the most cynical things I’ve ever heard”[135] and “scary”[136] by Julian Bond, Chairman Emeritus of the NAACP.[135] The National Black Justice Coalition said that the “documents expose N.O.M. for what it really is – a hate group determined to use African American faith leaders as pawns to push their damaging agenda.”[136]

You can download a pdf of the donors list here.  The most interesting donor is one we know well; he’s also the biggest donor by far:

This appears to be the John Templeton Jr., the son of the founder of the John Templeton Foundation, its current president and chairman, and a notorious supporter of right-wing causes.  His wife also gave $100,000, making a family total of over half a million dollars!

The Knights of Columbus, a Catholic organization, put in their dollop:

And, finally, Mitt Romney’s political action committee (PAC), Free and Strong America. Romney, of course, will be the Republican candidate in the next Presidential race:

Who knows what other nefarious organizations are supported by the Templetons?

I think we’re all familiar with the political agenda of both Templeton and his Foundation (right wing, supportive of untrammeled capitalism and free enterprise), as well as the Foundation’s aim to show a consilience between science and religion.  A lot of scientists who take Templeton money, and are hence paraded on the Templeton website as their pet scientists, assert that so long as Templeton gives them money to do pure science, untainted by religion, it’s okay.  I disagree.  And  I agree with what Abbie says:

I recognize that John Templeton the person and The Templeton Foundation as a foundation are different entities. However considering the personal financial and political causes taken up by Johnny boy, its hard to take the mission statement of the organization he heads seriously.

“The John Templeton Foundation serves as a philanthropic catalyst for discoveries relating to the Big Questions of human purpose and ultimate reality. We support research on subjects ranging from complexity, evolution, and infinity to creativity, forgiveness, love, and free will.”

(It’s worth noting that the Dalai Lama, who recently won the £1,000,000 Templeton Prize, considers gay sex to be “sexual misconduct.”)

Indeed.  As the political and religious agenda of Templeton becomes more evident, the pocketing of Templeton funds by money-hungry scientists becomes more embarrassing.  Really, are the political views and activities of the president and chairman completely irrelevant to whether its money constitutes honorable funds?  After all, that money comes from the same source: the mutual-fund empire of John Templeton senior.

I ask those who take Templeton money if they’d still take it were the Templeton Foundation headed by someone like David Duke, a politicial and former member of the Ku Klux Klan who continues his racist activities.  Suppose Duke were to continue to agitate against blacks and immigration on his own time, donating his own money for those causes, while running the “Duke Foundation” that gave money to scientists with the aim of finding a consilience between science and ethnic diversity.  Suppose that some of that money were go to pure science alone, without any racial connotations or strings attached.  Would it then be okay to take that money? If not, why not?

How right-wing and pro-religion does an organization have to be before scientists will no longer accept its money? The sad thing is that most scientists who pocket the funds don’t even consider this question.

44 thoughts on “The Templetons give huge donations to anti-gay organization

  1. “I think we’re all familiar with the political agenda of both Templeton and his Foundation (right wing, supportive of untrammeled capitalism and free enterprise)”

    Indeed. Great work both erv and Jerry Coyne for bringing this to attention.

    Hopefully, scientists with common sense and a sense of integrity will stop accepting donations from this sinister and corrupt organization.

    1. You seem to have forgotten Jonathan Haidt (see my comment 14 in the April 14 post about his latest book).

  2. So Mitt Romney’s PAC supports NOM and its version of race warfare. It is just a question of priorities. Put homosexuals in their place. Put blacks and Latins in their place.

    1. And teh wimmins. Mustn’t forget them, all barefoot and preggers and all.

      What, you thought the anti-abortion-rights anti-birth-control anti-social-support-net crowd is somehow trying to empower women?



      1. What, you thought the anti-abortion-rights anti-birth-control anti-social-support-net crowd is somehow trying to empower women?

        Of course they are — they are giving women the freedom to not worry their pretty little heads over all that manly stuff.

  3. “It works tirelessly to quash state bills (like California’s Proposition 8) that allow same-sex marriage,…”

    Err, Proposition 8 is an anti-gay California constitutional amendment, not a state bill and definitely not something that NOM would want to quash.

  4. How right-wing and pro-religion does an organization have to be before scientists will no longer accept its money? The sad thing is that most scientists who pocket the funds don’t even consider this question.

    You said it right there. I don’t entirely fault those who take Templeton money… I can’t necessarily say I wouldn’t do it, depending on circumstances (I’ve got a mortgage to pay!). But I can’t understand people who wouldn’t even think about it. I’d probably take it if I felt like I needed it, I’d probably find some way to rationalize it, but I’d definitely agonize over it.

    1. I believe there’s been research in the last 5 years or so giving evidence that funding source does in fact bias results, even for honest scientists. I vaguely recall seeing a talk on it during the Denver 2011 ACS meeting.

      1. Yeah, we all kinda thought this. But its good to have evidence.

      2. It should make everyone pause and consider their funding sources. Not just Templeton-fundees, but to include them too.

      3. Ideally, this should start the scientific community looking for ways to modify the funding process to eliminate the bias. Obviously scientists can’t force private organizations into following such rules. But we can promote good funding behavior by making publication in high-ranking journals partially dependent on it. Reputable journals already require authors to reveal their funding sources. In the future, we’d just add additional practices (TBD by research into how to reduce the biases) to this.

  5. I remember reading a few years back that Templeton senior saved about a billion dollars in US income tax by renouncing his US citizenship. [Now that’s right wing patriotism for you!] I also recall about a year ago not being able to find the source for this; I admit I am not a real good Googler, but even if source is out there, it is not completely trivial to find it. Point is, basically, that Templeton money is in good part your tax dollars.

  6. To play devil’s advocate, taking Templeton money does have one significant advantage: it keeps Templeton from spending that money in more directly evil ways. (The same might apply to the hypothetical Duke Foundation.)

    1. Unfortunately, due to the nature of human psychology, if you’re the sort of person who would take their money based on that type of rationalization, it’s basically an iron-clad guarantee that you’ll also side with them after doing so. You’ll rationalize your defense of them (or, at least, your refusal to call them on the carpet) in the exact same way.

      Make no mistrake: they’re buying people. And they don’t even have to send thugs with brass knuckles around to remind people of the fact they’ve been bought. That’s why this type of person-buying is so effective: those who permit themselves to be bought like this keep themselves in line. It’s human nature.

      Templeton knows this, and it’s probably the biggest part of why they “give away” this kind of money. The other part, of course, is to funnel (aka launder) money to their cronies.



  7. I just want to reemphasize a point, here–

    An organization we all expect to be whacked-out, insane fundie, Romneys PAC, donated $10,000 to NOM.

    Templeton et wife donated over half a million dollars, to an organizations whos sole purpose is to deny homosexuals the right to marry. NOM doesnt have food kitchens. NOM doesnt have inner-city literacy programs. NOM doesnt help rebuild houses after environmental disasters. NOM only exists to deny other humans basic rights, and the Templetons gave them over half a million dollars.


    1. As you say in the passage JAC quotes, it’s hard to take the foundation’s mission statement seriously when you consider the political activities of its eponymous founder and his family. Do those who’ve cashed JTF checks still feel the foundation exists to engage in a fair-minded investigation of the “big questions,” that it exists merely to “start a conversation” about such things? That would mean the foundation is basically the ONE thing they pump money into that’s not intended to abet the right wing’s agenda. And even if that’s the case, why associate yourself with a funding source that is also used to denigrate the equal humanity of gay citizens?

    1. Here you go:

      […] as a religious believer, I think that we should follow according to one’s holy teachings. For a Buddhist, the same sex, that is sexual misconduct. […] And also marriage, even in the heterosexual cult of marriage, they use the mouth and the anus, this is sexual misconduct in Buddhism. […] even as a heterosexual context. Even if one uses one’s own hand this is sexual misconduct. So if you are a genuine believer, then you must avoid this. If you are a non-believer, then two persons male or female, they get maximum joy through this technique, they do not create violence

      1. I wonder how those people who rationalize Buddhism as being somehow better and more natural than Xtianity would feel if they knew about the Dalai Lama’s pronouncements against specific heterosexual practices (masturbation, even!) let alone his idiotic thoughts on homosexuality.

        1. As always the self-professed celibate is the local expert on sex and sexuality.

          As in the Kafka story about the hunger artist whose talent was fasting, I see these celibates as artists whose only talent is celibacy.

          For reasons I cannot comprehend, the talent for celibacy is one to be greatly admired. It does not matter if one indulges in other vices such as greed, vanity, sloth, etc.

        2. I’ve no doubt that the Dalai Lama would be as evil as the pope if he had the same amount of money, power, and influence.

      2. “If you are a non-believer, then two persons male or female, they get maximum joy through this technique, they do not create violence”

        He almost seems to be saying that if you’re gay, or just a het person who likes wanking and/or oral and/or anal, you shouldn’t be a Buddhist, and that’s OK so long as you don’t “create violence”.

        (Or maybe that’s my soft spot for the old DL, trying to give him the benefit of every possible doubt.)

    2. Thank you both. It seems (judging from the Wiki article) that the 14th is doing a lot of waffling and obfuscating on the issue. I’m saying this just for accuracy’s sake, not to say that this speaks well of him. It’s possible that he’s waffling because he considers this a PR problem, or perhaps because he’s actually rethinking some of the dogma he used to adhere more strongly to.

  8. From a Wiki entry on Brian Brown: “According to Brown’s wife, when they were living in Connecticut, there were two lesbian couples on their street. A neighbor held a neighborhood party, but Brown was not invited; his wife was invited to attend if she did not share her husband’s views on same-sex marriage.”

    So, if I understand what is being written here correctly, Brown’s KKK-like affiliation w/ NOM became iron-clad because he wasn’t invited to a party hosted by two lesbians?

    Yea, this sounds about right as an explanation for his kind of hateful lunacy.

  9. I’m not entirely sure the donor list is supposed to be confidential. IIRC both California and Minnesota took NOM to court to get them to release their donor list as NOM finances political campaigns. NOM lost but have been stalling.

  10. “It’s worth noting that the Dalai Lama, who recently won the £1,000,000 Templeton Prize, considers gay sex to be ‘sexual misconduct.'”

    Where can one read the Dalai Lama’s views on consorting with the Widow Thumb and her Four Daughters?

  11. I think it has a lot to do with prestige. Scientists who accept Templeton money must somehow see the Foundation as respectable, or they wouldn’t want their names associated with it. The Drake Foundation, on the other hand, comes with a lot of baggage, none of which respectable. If the Templeton Foundation came to approximate the Drake Foundation’s reputation (in the public eye!) then I’m confident the number of respectable scientists willing to associate themselves with the Templetons would decline rapidly. As the matter stands, however, I think most on their payroll know little save the Foundation being *generally* respected.

  12. The mention of the Dalai Lama receiving money and his belief that gay sex is sexual misconduct..REALLY? Where can I find more info?

  13. Just as a side note; when I was reading the book ‘Start late, finish rich’ by David Bach (good book) I was interested to learn that in the U.S (not sure which States) married couples pay less property tax than unmarried! That’d be unheard of here in NZ. Anyway, as you were..

  14. James Sweet if you took it for something that doesn’t infringe on your principles, what happens after that when they offer you much MORE to do something that does infringe on your principles..then so on and so on. OK I read too many John Grisham novels, but I’m sure that’s how they go about it. Sucker you in little by little

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