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The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science

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The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science

Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science
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

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]

Online shop

On 2 April 2007, an online shop was launched on the Foundation website, with Growing Up in the Universe – a DVD of lectures from 1991 – the first release on sale. Since then, several video projects have been launched including science vignettes. Short clips on basic ideas in science, all of which are available on line for free to be used as a teaching resource.

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.[4]


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.[5] UK donors can complete a gift aid form to enable the foundation to claim back the tax on their donation.

Theist author Marion Ledwig suggests that the foundation may have been set up as an atheist counterpart to the John Templeton Foundation,[6] 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.[7]


In March 2009, following proposed anti-evolution resolutions by Oklahoma State Representative Todd Thomsen, including condemning a visit by Dawkins to Oklahoma,[8] 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.[9][10]

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.[11]

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.[12][13]

See also


External links

  • Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science – Official website
  • Myspace
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