The Templeton Foundation responds

A couple of days ago, I submitted a contribution to an online debate being held at the website of the John Templeton Foundation, regarding the foundation chairman’s $1.1 million donation to the Yes on Proposition 8 campaign, which has succeeded in depriving gays and lesbians in California of the right to civil marriage. In addition to protesting the gift and wondering whether it was ethical, in light of it, for progressive thinkers to accept the Templeton Foundation’s money, I proposed, somewhat (but not altogether) in jest, that the foundation should take up the question of whether marriage is a civil right. Yesterday I wrote a little more about what I believed was at stake, and suggested that scholars and writers should boycott the Templeton Foundation. I’ve now received an email from Gary Rosen, chief external affairs officer of the John Templeton Foundation, explaining why he declined to publish my contribution. I’m publishing Mr. Rosen’s letter here with his permission.

Dear Mr. Crain,

It was my decision not to publish the comment that you submitted to our website. The website is an open forum for discussion of our current Big Question on the relationship between morals and markets, but your comment was not on that subject. It was about your unhappiness with John M. Templeton, Jr., the chairman of the Foundation, for his private, strictly personal contributions in support of Proposition 8. You are fully entitled to criticize his support of Proposition 8, of course, but we are not under any obligation to publicize your views on our website, which is for other purposes. This is ordinary editorial discretion on our part.

You ask if we might consider, as our next Big Question, “Is marriage a civil right?” The answer is no, we wouldn’t, because such questions are not part of our mission, as set out by the late Sir John Templeton. John M. Templeton, Jr. is a conscientious steward of his father’s legacy and is very careful to separate his own political activities from the work of the Foundation. Like you, he has strong views on Proposition 8, but he does not use the Foundation to promote those views. You will understand, I hope, that we do not wish to use the Foundation or its website to promote those who disagree with him on this issue.

Gary Rosen

2 thoughts on “The Templeton Foundation responds”

  1. Why does Gary Rosen's letter remind me of Brandt talking about Jeffrey Lebowski and the Little Urban Achievers?

  2. Mr. Rosen, as the flack for the Templeton Foundation, makes the assertion that their Chairman and President made a 'private' donation.

    But it was for a very public political intent — to impose a moral/religious stricture on a civil contract/rite/right.

    And since, as their web site says, he "directs all Foundation activities" one can only presume that his distaste for marriage equality may have some bearing on the activities of his foundation.

    I think your boycott idea is excellent. I hope Robert Reich and various other "Big Question" writers will be contacted ASAP!

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