The Biggest Foundation That You’ve Never Heard Of

Our Story So Far: Tucker Carlson used his new “big league” blog (emagazine, actually) to personally attack Keith Olbermann in the most vicious and childish manner imaginable. But here at his vorpal sword, we always like to see WHO is behind the curtain that suddenly funded Carlson (and former Dick Cheney aide Neil Patel) in the Great Cliché of the Wingnut Blogosmear™: “We have to have something like the Huffington Post!

Carlson smears  former co-worker Olbermann

Well, deciding to come up with the Right’s Answer to HuffPo (and the pretenders to the throne are legion) took a cool $3 million of capitalization, and we wondered who might have ponied up that amount to subsidize Tucker’s little bow-tie tantrums.

We were tracking the money BEHIND “The Daily Caller” — a former stock manager named Foster S. Friess, who gave up his management of The Brandywine Fund in 2001, after moving to Teton County, Wyoming — then the seventh wealthiest county in the nation — and “retired” to devote himself to pretending to be a cowboy and being applauded for his philanthropy. The Washington Post reports [emphasis added]:

… When they met for lunch, Carlson and Patel had funding offers from two sets of venture capitalists in Washington and Boston, who wanted to serve on various management committees. Before they finished their salad, they exchanged looks of amazement as Friess offered to match the $3 million, but without the bureaucracy. Two days later, they had a deal.

Why would Friess insist that he didn’t even want to serve on the company’s board? “He’s eccentric,” Patel says.

Friess, who has gone hunting with Cheney, is a man of many opinions. He has sent out fundraising letters to fight the Democrats’ health-care legislation, calls much of the information on global warming “distorted and manipulated,” and says “the American public is oblivious to the fact that we are at war and that just playing defense is a disastrous course to take.”

As for his new partners, Friess says by e-mail: “Tucker and Neil present a huge opportunity to re-introduce civility to our political discourse. They are mature, sensible men who are very thoughtful and experienced with pleasant senses of humor and do not take themselves too seriously. They want to make a contribution to the dialogue that occurs in our country that has become too antagonistic, nasty and hostile. . . .

Hoo boy.

iii. Follow the Money

Foster Friess became a Christian in 1978. In 1981, he founded his charity, “The Lynn and Foster Friess Family Foundation.” According to an article on his personal website, written in 2000 by Marlene Piturro:

He wasn’t born into wealth. Growing up poor in northern Wisconsin, things like food and medical care were scarce. Friess struggled as a financial advisor until the day he went on a business lunch twenty-two years ago with a prospective client with a $3 million portfolio. “This guy was upbeat and happy. I was depressed,” he recalls. “He told me that he had invited Christ to be the CEO of his life and gave me religious tracts.” Out of courtesy to his client, Friess read the literature. While he described himself as unreligious before that time, this event proved to be a transforming moment; he embraced Christianity.

From the internal evidence, as we shall see, it is not exactly a form of Christianity that the reader may be familiar with. And that requires a short digression.

a. The Nicene Creed

Many will recognize the approximate version of the Nicene Creed from a communal recitation of this chant:

You might not know where this comes from. And, in what’s to come, you ought to. The Nicene Creed is a sort of Original Loyalty Oath. (Some of you older readers might recall that Loyalty Oaths were all the rage in the 1950s, before everybody started lying and “swearing an oath” became pretty meaningless.)

Statue of  Roman Emperor Constantine I

Emperor Constantine’s conversion to Christianity (and subsequent shift from religious tolerance to Christianity as the Official State Religion) is perhaps THE crucial moment in the post-Roman history of Europe, coloring events thereafer to this very day. By taking a universal Christian “Operating System” — which is what the Nicene Creed represents — and spreading it by means of Roman media a Standardized “Christianity” propagated throughout Europe, and altered Western Civilization to this very day. The story of Constantine’s decision to fully throw in his lot as a “Christian” in 312 AD is as much history as folklore, and while the particulars aren’t entirely known — you know, the Dark Ages, where the monks burned most of the books — we have this much. Wikipedia:

Constantine’s army arrived at the field bearing unfamiliar symbols on either its standards or its soldiers’ shields. According to Lactantius, Constantine was visited by a dream the night before the battle, wherein he was advised “to mark the heavenly sign of God on the shields of his soldiers…by means of a slanted letter X with the top of its head bent round, he marked Christ on their shields.” Eusebius describes another version, where, while marching at midday, “he saw with his own eyes in the heavens a trophy of the cross arising from the light of the sun, carrying the message, In Hoc Signo Vinces or “In this sign, you will conquer”; in Eusebius’s account, Constantine had a dream the following night, in which Christ appeared with the same heavenly sign, and told him to make a standard, the labarum, for his army in that form.

The labarum

I’ll leave it to the Reader to discern who won the battle. Now, in 325 AD (or, about 13 years later), Constantine has reunited the Roman Emperorship, and can turn his attentions to Christianity vis a vis Rome. The problem was that, in the 300 years since the death of the ‘historical’ Jesus, an awful lot of doctrinal mission-creep had occurred around the Mediterranean rim. There were all sorts of different Christian cults, many of which were every bit as “fringe” as our fringiest “Christian” cults today. So, the Council of Nicea was called by Constantine, wherein the most influential Church Fathers were invited, and they hammered out standards and the Nicene Creed, which was a statement of who WAS a Christian, and, perhaps more importantly, who was a heretic.

Constantine also played an active role in the leadership of the Church. In 316, he acted as a judge in a North African dispute concerning the Donatist controversy. More significantly, in 325 he summoned the Council of Nicaea, the first Ecumenical Council, to deal mostly with the Arian controversy, but which also issued the Nicene Creed, which among other things professed a belief in “One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church.” Constantine thus established a precedent for the emperor as responsible to God for the spiritual health of their subjects, and thus with a duty to maintain orthodoxy. The emperor was to enforce doctrine, root out heresy, and uphold ecclesiastical unity….

For instance, the early (as early as 70 A.D.) Docetist Heresy maintained that because Christ was God, it was impossible for the Romans to kill him, or even harm him, and, therefore, a “substitute” had actually been crucified in his place. This was a widespread enough view in Oriental Christianity that Mohammed specifically embraces it in the Koran:

And because of their saying (in boast), “We killed Messiah ‘Iesa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary), the Messenger of Allah,” – but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but the resemblance of ‘Iesa (Jesus) was put over another man (and they killed that man), and those who differ therein are full of doubts. They have no (certain) knowledge, they follow nothing but conjecture. For surely; they killed him not [i.e. 'Iesa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary)] 4:157

A fact generally missed by anti-Muslim hate posts on “Christian” websites, I might note.

More importantly, it comes to us from the Seventh Century, and the Docetists were supposed to be undone by the Nicene Creed in the Fourth Century. Guess the Oriental Church didn’t necessarily pay that much heed, else the concept would have faded from the scene SOME time in the intervening three centuries.

So, what does this all mean? It means that the Nicene Creed has come down to us from Constantine I’s reign as a loyalty oath, specifically drawing a line where various heresies, like Docetism, clearly lie OUTSIDE the line. You see? Now, we look at the National Christian Foundation’s website, and what do we find?

Our mission

NCF exists to enable followers of Christ to give wisely to advance His Kingdom.

Our vision

NCF desires to be an integral part of accomplishing God’s Kingdom purposes through faithful stewards excelling at the grace of giving.

Our core beliefs (statement of faith)

We believe that the entire Bible is the inspired and inerrant Word of God; the only infallible rule of faith and practice. We believe that there is one God, eternally existing in three persons; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We believe that Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God, conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, and was true Man and is true God.

We believe that in this age, God manifests Himself through the Holy Spirit, who is a distinct personality, eternally coexistent with the Father and the Son, whose basic task is to convict sinners, regenerate those who believe, and empower believers to live godly lives and in every way glorify the Father and the Son through His indwelling presence.

We believe that man was created in the image of God, that he sinned and thereby incurred not only physical death, but also spiritual death which was eternal separation from God and is upon all men. We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, as a representative and substitutionary sacrifice, and that all who believe in Him are justified on the basis of His shed blood. We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ was resurrected in body, ascended into Heaven, presently lives there for us as High Priest and Advocate, and that His personal, physical return to earth is imminent.

We believe that there will be a bodily resurrection of both the just and the unjust, the just to the everlasting blessedness of the saved and the unjust to the everlasting conscious suffering of the lost.

Notice those areas in RED? Now, compare it with the original Nicene Creed (actually, a revision of the first Nicene Creed*). What the National Christian Foundation has adopted as ITS loyalty oath represents a significant departure from Eastern Orthodox, Catholic AND Mainstream Protestant thought. As far as “Christianity” goes, it’s a fundamental shift from two millennia of Christian belief.

[* The Apostles' Creed actually dates from the Eighth Century, by the evidence, but is nothing more than a shortening of the Nicene Creed:

... the earliest appearance of what we know as the Apostles' Creed was in the De singulis libris canonicis scarapsus ("Excerpt from Individual Canonical Books") of St. Priminius ... written between 710 and 714.  (Wikipedia)]

Oh, and here the National Christian Foundation notes that their officers MUST annually swear the oath:

Many times, we at NCF are asked by givers how they can be certain that NCF will be the same Christ-centered organization 25 years from now that it is today. This question is important because so many have included NCF as a beneficiary in their wills, trusts, insurance policies, and retirement plans. One answer is the character, mission, and stability of NCF’s Board of Directors. The following guidelines help ensure the continuity and strength of NCF’s Board for years to come:

  • Consistency in Beliefs – Every year, all Board members must reaffirm NCF’s statement of faith.
  • Small in size – Keeping the Board small (seven active members) protects against the addition of future members that do not share our ideals.
  • Members for life – Though each member is elected annually, there is an expectation they will serve for life.
  • Handpicked selections – The current board has identified a list of highly-qualified prospective future members.
  • Active donors – Each person has been a long-time participant in NCF’s ministry because they have personally chosen to give through NCF.
  • Experts in key subjects – Each member brings valuable expertise and experience to the process of governing a large, financially oriented non-profit.

Notice those areas in RED?

That creed is pretty much set in stone, in other words.

Now, why is this seemingly obscure doctrinaire point important?

It’s a lot more important than you might realize. You probably know the Nicean Creed as “The Apostles’ Creed.”

Let’s take the last part:

We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ was resurrected in body, ascended into Heaven, presently lives there for us as High Priest and Advocate, and that His personal, physical return to earth is imminent.

We believe that there will be a bodily resurrection of both the just and the unjust, the just to the everlasting blessedness of the saved and the unjust to the everlasting conscious suffering of the lost.

Now, if you’re a good, say, Methodist, the version that you might recognize is this:

I believe in God the Father Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth;
And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord:
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, dead, and buried;
the third day he rose from the dead;
he ascended into heaven,
and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic* church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

Note that at * the “catholic” referred to means “universal,” and not “Catholic,” with a big “C,” as in Catholic Church. Speaking of which, this is the Catholic version of the Apostles’ Creed:

1. I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
2. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
3. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.
4. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
5. He descended into hell. On the third day he rose again.
6. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
7. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

8. I believe in the Holy Spirit,
9. the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints,
10. the forgiveness of sins,
11. the resurrection of the body,
12. and life everlasting.
Amen.

Here’s the Church of England (in America, called “Episcopalian”) version:

6th Largest Cathedral in the World, Washington D.C.’s
Episcopal National Cathedral was built
from September 29, 1907 to 1990

I believe in God the Father Almighty,
Maker of heaven and earth:
And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord,
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
Born of the Virgin Mary,
Suffered under Pontius Pilate,
Was crucified, dead, and buried:
He descended into hell;
The third day he rose again from the dead;
He ascended into heaven,
And sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Ghost;
The holy Catholick Church;
The Communion of Saints;
The Forgiveness of sins;
The Resurrection of the body,
And the Life everlasting.
Amen.

And here’s the Lutheran version of the Apostles’ Creed:

I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth.
And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
and born of the virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died and was buried.
He descended into hell.
On the third day He rose again from the dead.
He ascended into heaven
and sits at the right hand of the Father.
From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

You get the idea. Since 381 AD (the revision of the original), the Apostles’ Creed –THE fundamental “loyalty oath” of Christianity as practiced in the West — HASN’T CHANGED.

The somewhat shorter Apostles’ Creed replaced the Nicean Creed somewhere in the next centuries, but since then, it has hardly changed at all.

Not through the schism between the Eastern Orthodox church and the Roman Catholic church. Not through the Reformation and breakaway of the Protestants, and not even in the later Protestant denominations that DEFINE Christianity in America.

If America has been a “Christian nation” — as the Religious Right falsely claims — it has surely been a PROTESTANT nation, the child of the Englightement AND the Reformation (Martin Luther’s protest against the selling of “indulgences” or “real estate in Heaven” and its amplification via the internet of the Renaissance: the printing press).

But the Apostles’ Creed has NOT changed in all that time. That fundamental statement of  Christian belief has not needed revision or paraphrase. But in the NEW Nicean creed of the National Christian Foundation? You know, the one they swear in blood oaths every year in some unknowable ceremony?

b. The Price of Beans

Now, at this point you are probably asking “What does this have to do with the price of beans?” and “What does this have to do with Foster Friess?”

The answer to the last question is this: It has a LOT to do with Foster Friess, funder of Tucker Carlson’s “The Daily Caller,” and poor son of Wisconsin who now plays cowboy in Jackson Hole, Wyoming’s Billionaires’ Playground — where Dick Cheney is a neighbor. I’ll tell you WHY a little later. For now, bear with me.

The fallacious answer to the first part is this: when you claim in your “Creed” that:

We believe that the entire Bible is the inspired and inerrant Word of God; the only infallible rule of faith and practice.

It seems kind of odd that they’d significantly rewrite the Nicean Creed, since the “Bible” that they’re talking about was put together (texts accepted and rejected) BY that same Nicean Council that came up with the Apostles’ Creed.

I mean, how is it that they were infallible on the Bible and NOT infallible on the Creed?

The answer to that is that the Bible in its current form was not adopted at the Council of Nicea (as suggested by well-known actress and religious scholar Shirley MacLaine), but at the Third Council of Carthage, years after Constantine I’s death:

The Council of Carthage, called the third by Denzinger, on 28 August 397 issued a canon of the Bible quoted as, “Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua son of Nun, Judges, Ruth, 4 books of Kingdoms, 2 books of Chronicles, Job, the Davidic Psalter [Psalms], 5 books of Solomon, 12 books of Prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezekiel, Tobias, Judith, Esther, 2 books of Ezra, 2 books of Maccabees, and in the New Testament: 4 books of Gospels, 1 book of Acts of the Apostles, 13 letters of the Apostle Paul, 1 letter of his to the Hebrews, 2 of Peter, 3 of John, 1 of James, 1 of Jude, and one book of the Apocalypse of John.”*

* Note that the “Apocrypha” still contained in the Catholic Bible (in editions marked “with the Apocrypha”) — Maccabees and some other books unfamiliar to Protestants, but that’s the modern Bible in its more or less final form. The Eastern Orthodox also accepts other books from the Septuagint. And, significantly, it is the first official agreement to include the very strange “Apocalypse of John,” otherwise known as “The Book of Revelations,” the last book in everybody’s Bible.

After that, you have to read Joseph Smith.

In point of fact, however, the circular argument for the infallibility of the Scriptures (God made sure all the “i”s were dotted and all the “t”s crossed) still applies: if the Apostles’ Creed isn’t infallable, then how come the modern canon of accepted books (which we call the “Bible”) isn’t equally fallible? Why would Nicea be wrong and Carthage be right?

We have dropped into a rabbit hole here, which is why it took so long to get to these next parts of “Who is backing Tucker Carlson’s juvenile attacks on Keith Olbermann?”

There is a fundamental doctrinal schism here, called by some “Fundamentalism,” by others, “the Evangelical movement,” and others, “End Times,” or even “Dominionist.”

There are major departures from the standard, “Christianity 101″ that the Nicean Creed/Apostles’ Creed has dictated for over 1600 years, and the codes are pretty apparent. We’ll go into them in more depth next time, and why they’re important. But right now, you need to know two things. First from the Christian Post :

20 Biggest Grant Making Foundations for Christian Organizations
By Jeffrey J. Rodman
Jan 27,2010, 1:09 PM

… The following are the top 20 Christian grant funding sources in terms of funding generosity.

[Number] 1. Of all the Christian grant foundations accepting applications at this time the Alpharetta, Georgia-based National Christian Foundation (NCF) provides the most funds. Seeking to further the gospel of Jesus Christ, its funding territory is national. This is largely a donor advised fund. A donor-advised fund is a charitable giving vehicle administered by a third party and created for the purpose of managing charitable donations on behalf of an organization, family, or individual. A donor-advised fund offers the opportunity to create an easy-to-establish, low cost, flexible vehicle for charitable giving as an alternative to direct giving or creating a private foundation.

NCF helps individuals and families plan their giving through such programs as the Legacy Fund (after death giving). It advises them on asset giving (cash, stocks, real estate, business interests, restricted securities) and shows them how to balance income needs and estate planning goals (through charitable trusts and charitable gift annuities.)

The Single Charity Fund allows supporters to donate all kinds of assets; the Professional Advisors group – comprised of financial planners, CPA’s, attorneys, and more – advises supporters in the art of tax-efficient giving. Website: http://www.nationalchristian.com

Yeah: An army of accountants and estate planners to help you avoid paying taxes is what it boils down to. And to put it in Real World terms, the National Christian Foundation had a 2008 operating budget of … wait. There are more than forty “related” and interlinked organizations listed on the NCF’s 2009 tax return. But the bulk of their largesse (these seven “anointed for life” board members) comes through the National Christian Charitable Foundation, Inc., which dispensed $421,155,901 that year.

Let’s try that again; in 2008, one of NCF’s 40+ interrelated charities handed out …

$421,155,901

That’s more than double the size of the American Red Cross, whose FY 2008  charitable expenses equaled $182.3 million.

By any rational standard, that’s a lot of beans.

And, according to the 2008 tax return of the “Lynn and Foster Friess Family Foundation,” (the most recent year available) the two person “foundation” had net assets of $175,607,290 (that’s after a paper “loss” or, literally, “Unrealized Losses on Investments”) of $27,456,067 — all in Brandywine stock. (Brandywine was the fund Friess managed until he cashed in his chips to play Cowboy Philanthropist in 2001.)

“A Higher View”

And, of the $8,125,827 of charitable donations FROM the L+FFF Foundation, $8,100,000 went to the National Christian Foundation.

Who fund some very political and not-very-religious “charities,” as we shall see.

I note that $10,000 contribution to the Jackson Hole “Islamic Society,” but, having been to Jackson Hole several times, I don’t recall a huge Muslim community there. At least THAT much larger than the Latino community of Jackson Hole, Wyoming (who got $150).

As the Washington Post noted about Tucker Carlson and his parter:

[Neil] Patel, who was nominated by the Bush White House to run the National Telecommunications and Information Administration — he was never confirmed — has a home in Jackson Hole, where Friess is based, and a friend arranged a meeting in September. Friess, an investment magnate and a Christian philanthropist, has donated $689,000 to Republican organizations and the Bush presidential campaigns over the last decade.

Pocket change.

More anon.

Oh, and happy Sunday.

Courage.

==================

Read the series in order.

  1. Tucker Carlson is Keith Olbermann; I am Glenn Beck (18 July)
  2. More Fake Cowboys (23 July)
  3. The Biggest Foundation That You’ve Never Heard Of (1 Aug. )
  4. Following Foster’s Buddies’ Money (10 Aug.)
  5. Foster’s Dominionist Pals (13 Aug.)
  6. Rubber Baby Buggy Bunglers (18 Aug.)
  7. (12 Nov.)
  8. (Dec. 31, 2010)

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