September 1, 2004
WASHINGTON, AUG. 31,
2004-The Heritage Foundation has established a new study
center to focus scholarly attention on the interplay between
religion and public policy in America.
The Richard and Helen DeVos Center on Religion and Civil Society will help policy-makers, scholars, journalists and other leaders examine the important role of religious thought and activity in the United States, how it influences society and how it affects-and is affected by-public policy.
A $1.8 million grant from Richard and Helen DeVos of Grand Rapids, Mich., made creation of the new center possible, Heritage President Ed Feulner said.
"The center arrives at a point in history when religion once again is playing a more visible role in American policy," Feulner said. "From Medicare reform to the concept of a 'just' war, policy-makers continually face issues that raise serious ethical and religious questions. The center will concentrate on providing research and holding forums that will help decision-makers weigh and explore these questions fully. The DeVos' generous grant could not come at a better time." In keeping with Heritage's work on such issues, Feulner added, the center's approach will be balanced and focused on the research data.
DeVos is one of the world's most successful entrepreneurs, author of three books, a popular inspirational and motivational speaker, a community and political leader, and-with his wife, Helen-a generous philanthropist.
Richard DeVos co-founded Amway Corp. in 1959 with Jay Van Andel, a member of the Heritage board of trustees. In October 2000, Amway became one of three subsidiaries under a new parent company called Alticor, along with two sister companies. DeVos is also owner and chairman of the Orlando Magic basketball team.
In announcing the grant to establish the new center, DeVos expressed his abiding faith in "the power of free enterprise and democracy in giving people around the world hope, opportunity and a better life as endowed by the Creator."
Stuart Butler, Heritage's vice president of domestic and economic policy studies, will direct the center. Heritage's Director of Domestic Policy Studies Jennifer Marshall will manage it. Analysts working on center projects will include Joseph Loconte, Heritage's William E. Simon Fellow for Religion in a Free Society and National Public Radio commentator; and Patrick Fagan, Heritage's William H.G. FitzGerald Research Fellow in Family and Cultural Issues.
With more than 200,000 individual, foundation and corporate supporters, The Heritage Foundation is the most broadly supported public policy research institute in the country. The 31-year-old institution has a staff of 200 and an annual budget of $30 million.