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Institute for First Amendment Studies Records
Scope and Contents
The Institute for First Amendment Studies (IFAS) records consist of correspondence, clippings, direct mailings received from conservative Christian organizations and groups opposing the Christian right, publications, tax forms, and other papers pertaining to organizations, people, and ideas associated with conservative Christian groups or their opposition. In addition, the collection contains audio cassettes, videocassettes, and periodicals from and about Christian groups covering similar topics. Most materials were produced between 1984 and 1998. Topics covered include political action, abortion, censorship, education, and Supreme Court decisions. Groups such as the Christian Coalition (particularly its Road to Victory conferences), Focus on the Family, Concerned Women of America, the American Family Association (formerly the National Federation for Decency), the Council for National Policy, Colorado for Family Values, National Association of Christian Educators/Citizens for Excellence in Education (NACE/CEE), and D. James Kennedy's Coral Ridge Church are well represented. Materials produced by the Institute for First Amendment Studies are also part of the collection, including the newsletters Freedom Writer and Walk Away. Freedom Writer began publication in 1984 under the title Control Q. It disseminated information on the activities of the Religious Right, particularly pertaining to the separation of church and state and freedom of the press. Walk Away, created in 1989, focused on religious fundamentalism from a religious rather than political perspective and provided support to those leaving a fundamentalist faith.
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- Majority of material found within 1984 -- 1988
- 1920 -- 1999
- The Institute for First Amendment Studies (Organization)
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Biographical / Historical
The Institute for First Amendment Studies (IFAS) was founded in 1984 by Skipp Porteous and Barbara Simon in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, in order to counter the American Religious Right's involvement in politics. Porteous was ordained as a minister by the Harvest Fields Missionary and Evangelistic Association in 1968, and served in churches in California and New York. He transferred his ministerial credentials to the Elim Fellowship upon moving to New York. In 1977, following the dissolution of his first marriage, Porteous began questioning his faith. Porteous and Simon met and married in the late 1970s.
In 1984, Porteous and Simon became concerned about the influence wielded by conservative Christians in the local Republican Party, and as a result became involved in public forums involving the separation of church and state. In an effort to inform the public about the Religious Right and their activities, they formed the Institute for First Amendment Studies, which began publishing the newsletter Control Q, later renamed Freedom Writer, in September 1984. This newsletter disseminates information on the activities of the Religious Right, particularly as it pertains to the separation of church and state and other First Amendment issues such as freedom of the press.
IFAS began collecting information on the people and organizations that form the Religious Right, and providing this information to mass media outlets as well as through the Freedom Writer. IFAS research has been used by national television networks, several national newspapers and magazines, and wire services. With the formation of IFAS, Porteous also began appearing on radio and television shows, sometimes paired with conservative Christians such as Jerry Falwell. In 1989 IFAS began publishing Walk Away, a newsletter focused specifically on religious fundamentalism from a religious rather than political perspective. Walk Away also provides support to those who are leaving a fundamentalist faith. IFAS closed in 2001.
44.75 Linear Feet
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