The Foundation for Religious Literacy
Bruce McEver planted the seed for The Foundation for Religious Literacy (TFRL) in a frozen barnyard the day after his wife died. Deeply believing in his own Christian tradition and curious about other faith traditions, Bruce also saw religious illiteracy as a major cause of world conflict. He felt religious understanding could be taught to future leaders and instilled in the ethics courses at the Harvard Business School where he had studied.
Bruce was soon drawn across the Charles River to Harvard Divinity School where he completed a Master of Theological Studies degree. Here he was introduced to Dean Ronald F. Thiemann, Bussey Professor of Theology and expert on religion in public life.
Together they developed the Business Across Religious Traditions (BART) program, linking the Divinity School and Harvard faculty to business leaders to teach about different faith traditions. Dr. Thiemann also taught bi-monthly Faith, Ethics and Leadership seminars in New York.
The success of their efforts to improve appreciation and respect for diverse religious cultures led Ron and Bruce to form The Religious Literacy Foundation. Their vision for the Foundation was to create an independent vehicle to reach out to leaders of all professions, teachers and change-makers to instill the understanding necessary to help to change a world where religious conflict is featured in headline news almost daily.
In Fall 2012, the Foundation convened a first-ever Religious Literacy Roundtable, a means of connecting many practitioners working in otherwise isolated areas in the field of religious literacy. Discussions that began at the Roundtable spawned additional action-directed projects led by participants.
Tragically, Dr. Thiemann passed away of pancreatic cancer on November 29, 2012. Encouraged by Harvard Divinity School friends and associates, Bruce continues to run the foundation in collaboration with an ever-expanding group of business leaders and academics who share the common aim of encouraging religious literacy in public life.
In September 2018, the Foundation for Religious Literacy contracted with 1791 Delegates led by Rev. Dr. Nathan C. Walker to create a strategic plan to guide the foundation’s operations, fundraising, and philanthropic strategies. In November 2018, the Foundation hired 1791 Delegates to implement that plan.
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, 1791 Delegates and The Foundation for Religious Literacy founded ReligionAndPublicLife.org, a social learning community and mobile app.