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Funding evangelism

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Conservative foundations are using their resources to guide the political debate around “traditional family values” and evangelical issues such as abortion, same-sex marriage and stem cell research, a new study says.

“Funding the Culture Wars: Philanthropy, Church and State,” produced by the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, a philanthropy watchdog group, analyzes almost 3,200 grants totaling $168 million made to 700 evangelical grantees by 37 foundations from 1999 to 2002.

More than four in 10 of those grants were in the form of general operating support, not specific program support, a strategy the report says is an effective way to boost grantees’ advocacy capacity without running afoul of IRS rules governing tax-exempt groups.

One in 10 grant dollars went to groups that actively oppose gay marriage, the report says, while almost two-thirds of funds devoted to international mission work were for proselytizing, compared to less than a third for humanitarian assistance or aid.

Campus Crusade for Christ received the larges amount of funding, more than $17 million, followed by Gospel Communications International and Young Life.

Florida received $50.7 million in grant dollars, more than any other state, followed by Michigan, which received $44.6 million.

“The report’s findings raise important questions related to the public accountability of religious nonprofit organizations – especially those that engage in electioneering or the policymaking process,” the committee’s deputy director, Jeff Krehely, says in a statement.

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