Rights, Faith & Democracy Collaborative - Proteus Fund

The rights of millions to access health care, social services, become a parent, and live equally, are being systematically eviscerated under the false pretense of protecting religious freedom. The time is long past to push back against religion being used to enact intolerance, and fight for the equality and dignity of all across our nation.

The bedrock democratic principle of separation of church and state is under unprecedented assault. While claiming to be victims of injustice, White Christian nationalists are cynically weaponizing the concept of religious freedom to advance a radical agenda that is eroding Americans’ rights and liberties to live freely in our society. While largely aimed at gender and reproductive justice and LGBTQ communities, these religious-based attacks are expanding in scope and starting to impact a wide range of rights, liberties, and communities.

The Rights, Faith & Democracy Collaborative (RFDC), an initiative of the Proteus Fund, educates and mobilizes philanthropy in order to raise and target desperately needed resources to diverse coalitions of state-based activists and organizations committed to realizing full inclusion and justice for those harmed by this wave of religious extremism. RFDC is one of a handful of donor collaboratives dedicated to supporting work at the intersections of faith and queer, gender, and racial justice. Our work maximizes the collective impact of funders to assist advocates and other allies, and advocates united in the belief that religious freedom should advance, not undercut civil rights, and separation of church and state is fundamental to a robust and inclusive democracy.

Beyond traditional grantmaking, our deep on the ground partnerships and willingness to meet grantees where they are, enables us to provide frontline activists the kind of support needed, when it is needed.

  • Expertise – We foster authentic relationships with state and local changemakers giving us up-to-date knowledge of what’s happening on the ground so that we can respond quickly and effectively.
  • Grantmaking – We prioritize grants for state-based organizations representing communities whose rights and lives are most impacted by the weaponization of religious freedom claims. We work with grantees to assist them in forming intersectional cohorts that can be much more effective than individual organizations working on their own.  RFDC operates on the principle that these types of alliances can serve as transformational models for building sustainable grassroots movements that work across a wide range of social justice issues.
  • Funder Education and Mobilization – We organize regular briefings and other learning opportunities for funders to meet and interact with organizations and activists leading to greater and better targeted resources for this work.
  • Field-building and Coordination – We make strategic investments in tools and resources that benefit the entire field resisting the weaponization of religion to undermine rights. We also help create sustained communities of practice among activists and advocates through the Rights Faith Democracy Network. The Network not only drives organizational peer learning, problem-solving, and collective action, but does so across many states.
  • Communications and Narrative PowerWe commission communications research to help field actors build persuasive narratives around these issues, and support them in refuting rhetoric that they are “anti-religion.” 
  • Grantee Safety and Security – We support not only our grantee’s often risky work, but their physical and digital security and health and wellness while doing it.

Year over year, our impact is growing.


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