• Mission
  • Origins
  • Values

The Foundation for Religious Literacy fosters interreligious literacy and understanding among leaders in business, education, journalism, law, and politics. The Foundation supports educational outreach programs that assist leaders in realizing how religion affects the global society in which we live.

► The Foundation for Religious Literacy operates with the conviction that religious literacy is a social and civic good.

► We seek a deeper understanding of religion’s role in private and public life to improve personal conduct, ethical leadership, and professional effectiveness.

► We are convinced that religious literacy will also combat the stereotypes and prejudices fueled by a lack of knowledge and understanding about the religion of the self and other.

The Foundation is committed to supporting projects and programs that offer new ways to conceive and implement high quality educational programs that foster religious literacy.

H. Bruce McEver planted the seed for The Foundation for Religious Literacy (TFRL) in a frozen barnyard the day after his wife died. Deeply believing in his own Christian tradition and curious about other faith traditions, Bruce also saw religious illiteracy as a major cause of world conflict. He felt religious understanding could be taught to future leaders and instilled in the ethics courses at the Harvard Business School where he had studied.

Bruce was soon drawn across the Charles River to Harvard Divinity School where he completed a Masters in Theological Studies. Here he was introduced to Ronald F. Thiemann, Bussey Professor of Theology and expert on religion in public life.

Together they developed the Business Across Religious Traditions (BART) program, linking the Divinity School and Harvard faculty to business leaders to teach about different faith traditions. Dr. Thiemann also taught bi-monthly Faith, Ethics and Leadership seminars in New York.

The success of their efforts to improve appreciation and respect for diverse religious cultures led Ron and Bruce to form The Religious Literacy Foundation. Their vision for the Foundation was to create an independent vehicle to reach out to leaders of all professions, teachers and change makers to instill the understanding necessary to help to change a world where religious conflict is featured in headline news almost daily.

In Fall 2012, the Foundation convened a first-ever Religious Literacy Roundtable, a means of connecting many practitioners working in otherwise isolated areas in the field of religious literacy. Discussions that began at the Roundtable spawned additional action-directed projects led by participants.

Tragically, Dr. Thiemann passed away of pancreatic cancer in November 2012. Encouraged by Harvard Divinity School friends and associates, Bruce continues to run the foundation in collaboration with an ever-expanding group of business leaders and academics who share the common aim of encouraging religious literacy in public life.

In September 2018, the Foundation for Religious Literacy contracted with 1791 Delegates to create a strategic plan to guide the foundation’s operations, fundraising, and philanthropic strategies. In November 2018, the Foundation hired 1791 Delegates to implement that plan.

We believe...

► Religious literacy and interreligious understanding enables a deeper appreciation of the cultures within which we conduct our work.

► Empathetic understanding of the religious influences that shape the workplace enhances professional effectiveness, ethical leadership, and personal conduct.

We bring...

► Extensive experience in the study of religion, business ethics, religious education, and business management

► Two international boards of business leaders and academic specialists in the study of religion

We are dedicated to

► Supporting programs of the highest quality accessible worldwide to professional leaders

► Fostering international networks of scholars and teachers to communicate with non-academic audiences

► Employing state-of-the-art electronic and visual media in our educational programs.

Our Method
  • We Convene Leaders


    ► We gather thought leaders from a variety of academic disciplines to advance the field of religious literacy.

    ► We summon civic leaders to develop impact strategies for promoting religious literacy in business, education, journalism, law, and politics.

    ► We assemble philanthropists to reflect upon the impact of these strategies to consider investing in trustworthy projects.

  • We Seed Grants


    ► As philanthropic scouts, we identify emerging leaders in the field who are developing effective religious literacy programs.

    ► As mentors, we nurture emerging academic and civic leaders by connecting them with collegial and financial resources.

    ► As a charitable non-profit organization, we invest in leaders in the field of religious literacy to advance their programmatic goals. We monitor the progress of these seed grants and provide ongoing mentorship to its leaders.

  • We Leverage Assets


    ► In seeking to leverage these investments, we connect the recipients of our seed grants to the nation's leading philanthropic organizations.

    ► We collectively discern ways to scale the programs to reach larger audiences and have an even greater impact.

    ► Therefore, we collaborate with both religious literacy specialists and philanthropists to collectively achieve goals we can not accomplish alone.

The World's Religious Diversity Reflects Nature