Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science
Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science.png
Abbreviation RDFRS
Formation 2006
Type non-profit
Legal status foundation
Purpose/focus The mission of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science is to support scientific education, critical thinking and evidence-based understanding of the natural world in the quest to overcome religious fundamentalism, superstition, intolerance and suffering.[1]
Headquarters United Kingdom and United States
Official languages primarily English, but translations into many others
Key people Richard Dawkins Founder
R. Elisabeth Cornwell Executive Director
J. Anderson Thomson Trustee, CFO
Claire Enders Trustee
Sean Faircloth Director of Strategy and Policy

The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science (RDFRS or RDF) is a non-profit organization founded by British biologist Richard Dawkins in 2006.

The foundation[edit]

The trustees are Richard Dawkins and Claire Enders in the United Kingdom with J. Anderson Thomson in the United States. Executive Director is psychologist Dr. R. Elisabeth Cornwell, based in Washington, DC.[2] (She also initiated the OUT Campaign and Non-Believers Giving Aid.[3]) The British Foundation is registered as Charity Number 1119952. In the US, the Foundation has 501(c)(3) status, EIN #98-0499347.

Among its planned activities, RDFRS will finance research into the psychology of belief and religion, finance scientific education programs and materials, and publicise and support secular charitable organisations.[2]

Theist author Marion Ledwig suggests that the foundation may have been set up as an atheist counterpart to the John Templeton Foundation,[4] an organization which Dawkins has publicly criticized, especially in The God Delusion, for corrupting science. In a TED talk prior to writing The God Delusion, Dawkins had called for the need for an "anti-Templeton" to step up, saying that if his books sold better, he would take the initiative himself.[5]


As of 14 September 2007, it has been approved for non-profit status in the United States and United Kingdom. In the US, this means that a taxpayer who donates to RDFRS is entitled to apply to the IRS for a tax refund.[6] UK donors can complete a gift aid form to enable the foundation to claim back the tax on their donation.

Dawkins found the process of gaining tax-free status difficult. In a footnote in his 2009 book The Greatest Show on Earth he complains that tax-free status is easily gained by religious organizations, but that non-religious ones "have to jump through hoops" to show they are worthy. Despite his success in gaining this status he describes the negotiations as "protracted" and "extremely expensive". He quotes a letter from the British Charity Commission which said "It is not clear how the advancement of science tends towards the mental and moral improvement of the public. Please provide us with evidence of this or explain how it is linked to the advancement of humanism and rationalism." He contrasts this response to religious organisations, which he says are presumed to benefit humanity without evidence, even if they promote scientific falsehood as a number of them do.[7] However, some religions have had more difficulty getting tax-free status in the UK than the RDFRS.[8][9]


In March 2009, following proposed anti-evolution resolutions by Oklahoma State Representative Todd Thomsen, including condemning a visit by Dawkins to Oklahoma,[10] he instructed the U.S. branch of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science to donate $5,000 to Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education.[11][12]

In December 2009, the RDFRS worked to gather US$100,000 in fundraising. As a response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake, the Foundation started Non-Believers Giving Aid and claims it raised $500K to donate to Doctors Without Borders and the International Red Cross for relief aid.[13]

In March 2011, the RDFRS along with the Freedom From Religion Foundation began The Clergy Project which is a confidential on-line community that supports members as they move from their faith.[14][15]

In 2012, the RDFRS was criticised for defining Christianity, after they had called most Christians "not really Christian at all”.[16]

In 2013, the RDFRS reported that the Pope had made it illegal to report sex crimes against children. This was untrue, but the assertion had been based upon a satirical news site taken to be true.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Mission Statement for Both Charities - The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science". 2011-12-21. Retrieved 2012-06-11. 
  2. ^ a b "Our Mission". The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science. Retrieved 2006-11-17. 
  3. ^ "The Amazing Meeting 8, 2010 Speakers and Performers". 2010-02-17. Retrieved 2012-06-11. 
  4. ^ Ledwig, Marion (2008). God's Rational Warriors. Ontos-Verlag. p. 76. ISBN 978-3-938793-87-9. 
  5. ^ Dawkins 2002 TED talk accessed 2010-04-14
  6. ^ "The Four Horsemen: Available Now on DVD". The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science. Retrieved 2008-04-27. 
  7. ^ Dawkins, Richard (2009). The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution. London: Bantam Press. ISBN 978-0-593-06173-2. 
  8. ^ U.S. Department of State – 2007 Report on International Religious Freedom: United Kingdom
  9. ^ "Decision of the Charity Commissoners for England and Wales" (PDF). Charity Commission. 1999-11-17. Archived from the original on 2006-06-23. Retrieved 2006-07-06.  (PDF)
  10. ^ "Antievolution resolutions introduced in Oklahoma". National Center for Science Education. March 7, 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-17. 
  11. ^ "Dawkins lecture draws thousands at OU". Norman Transcript. March 7, 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-17. 
  12. ^ "Richard Dawkins at the University of Oklahoma - Introduction". Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science. March 7, 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-17. 
  13. ^ Giving Aid site
  14. ^ "The Clergy Project". Retrieved 6 August 2013. 
  15. ^ Winston, Kimberly (30 April 2012). "For clergy, lost faith can lead to lost family, jobs". The Washington Post. Retrieved 6 August 2013. 
  16. ^ Pollard, Stephen (14 February 2012). "For once, Richard Dawkins is lost for words". Telegraph. Retrieved 6 February 2014. 
  17. ^ Sorensen, Jon (26 August 2013). "Richard Dawkins Foundation criticizes Pope based on info from a satirical news site.". Catholic Virtue. Retrieved 5 February 2014. 

External links[edit]