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It’s not Philanthropy, It’s Ideological and Class Warfare: How the DeVos Family Foundation contributions complement their political donations – Part II – Funding the Christian Right

August 12, 2020

We were recently able to access the 2018 990 documents from the various DeVos family foundations, through These foundations include, the Richard & Helen DeVos Foundation, the Dick & Betsy DeVos Foundation, the Doug & Maria DeVos Foundation, the Dan & Pamela DeVos Foundation and the CDV5 Foundation.

We have been tracking the DeVos family foundations for years, since it provides useful information on how the family strategically uses their money to influence the world around us. It is important to recognize that when people generally think of philanthropy, they think of money going from those with tremendous wealth to non-profits who provide needed services in the community. While there is some truth to this, what we will demonstrate in this series of articles, is that the DeVos family uses their foundation money to primarily wage ideological and class warfare.

However, before we get to the data from the 2018 990 documents from the various DeVos family foundations, it is important to note that this family spends more money to directly influence public policy, based on the funding they provide to candidates and various Republican Party entities, as documented by the Michigan Campaign Finance Network (MCFN). Between 1999 and 2018, the DeVos family provided at least $93 million in contributions to political candidates and Republican PACs. However, this amount of money does not include Dark Money, such as the group known as Donor’s Trust. According to one source, the DeVos family has contributed $6.5 million to Donor’s Trust, which funds a variety of right wing entities throughout the country.

We argue, that the money the DeVos family foundations contribute ultimately compliments the direct political contributions they make. In Part II of this series, we look at the contributions the DeVos family foundations made for 2018 to Christian groups that would easily be considered part of the Christian Right – anti-LGBTQ, racist, practices White Saviorism, pull-yourself up by the bootstrap followers of Jesus.

Christian Leadership Institute – $837,000 – this group has as some of its content partners Focus on the Family and Foundation for Economic Education.

International Aid – $100,000 – Has a history of collaborating with dictatorships around the world, particularly those working with the US government. Oliver North wrote in his autobiography about his relationship to International Aid.

Luis Palau Association – $900,000 – Luis Palau and his activities have been reported in dozens of article in Christianity Today during the past 40 years. During that time Palau was in Somoza’s Nicaragua, where, unlike the community of Solentiname, a Nicaraguan Christian based community under persecution, he was welcome with open arms. In 1977, Palau was greeted and accompanied on his crusade by Colombian president Alfonso Michelsen, not particularly known for being a human rights advocate. Also in the 70’s Palau visited Bolivia with the help of an organization known as Food For the Hungry (FFH). According to Sara Diamond’s book Spiritual Warfare, FFH “argues that poverty is rooted in individuals’ belief systems and by extension, in cultures supposedly conducive to underdevelopment and poverty.” (Diamond pg 226) The founder of FFH, Larry Ward, was also with Palau on that trip. Ward, a former overseas director of World Vision “was known to have a close relationship with South Vietnamese and US military leaders.” In 1982, Palau brought his crusade to Paraguay, under the brutal dictatorship of Alfredo Stoessner. According to recently released documents there was massive execution of civilians during Stoessner’s reign. (see Covert Action Quarterly, Fall 1994). Stroessner’s government gave Palau his approval to distribute 100,000 bibles and study courses to children nationwide. Luis Palau was also a close friend and supporter of the Guatemalan dictator Rios Montt, who engaged in genocidal policies during his 18 months as President.

Partners Worldwide – $1,975,000 – this group believes that the only way to fight poverty is to make everyone an entrepreneur. Partners Worldwide embraces Capitalism to fight the affect of Capitalism, specifically poverty. 

Campus Crusade for Christ – $10,000 – founded by Bill Bright, CCC was a campus-based Christian group that during the 1960s and 70s, was opposed to the anti-war, Civil Rights, LGBTQ and Feminist students groups that flourished around the country. The Southern Poverty Law Center refers to CCC as a Hate group.

Evangelism Explosion – $215,000 – founded by Dr. James Kennedy, former pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church and a longtime supporter of anti-LGBTQ campaigns. Over the years, Kennedy emphasized anti-gay rhetoric, particularly in his TV ministry. He recommended as “essential” the virulent work of R.J. Rushdoony, who believed practicing gays should be executed. 

Prison Fellowship Ministries – $1,550,000 – founded by former Nixon staffer Chuck Colsen, who went to prison for Watergate. PFM is biased towards only working with those in prison who identify as Christian, plus they do nothing to challenge the Prison Industrial Complex. 

Willow Creek Association – $1,000,000 – Is a Christian Ministry that has lost some credibility in recent years, because of the sex scandal that their leadership has been accused of. More importantly, Willow Creek hosts annual conferences that feature politically conservative and far right speakers from around the world.

Life International Inc. – $50,000 – an anti-Choice Christian group that works outside of the US.

One could also add to this list the millions that the DeVos family has contributed to the Christian Reformed Church in America, which has its own history of promoting Settler Colonialism, White Supremacy, anti-feminist, anti-union and anti-LGBTQ messages.

In Part III, we will look at the Think Tanks and related groups that received funding from the DeVos family foundations in 2018.

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