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Letter from our Founder

Dear Friend,

In a world full of worthy causes, I have often been asked why I believe freedom of religion or belief is the most important. My answer is built into our name. It is our first and foundational freedom. 

The entire concept of inalienable rights requires religious freedom. To be inviolate, rights must either come from a Creator, or from some inherent human dignity which necessarily requires the ability to ask oneself the existential questions and live according to one’s own answers. The alternative is that rights come from governments, in which case they would be subject to arbitrary removal. Without the freedom of thought, conscience, or religion, all other freedoms are meaningless. 

 Secondly, many of the other worthy causes have a lack of freedom of religion or belief at their root. Most wars and civil strife come from people attempting to impose their beliefs on others. Most poverty comes from a lack of economic freedom, which like all other freedoms, depends upon religious freedom. Nearly every major refugee crisis since WWII has stemmed from religious conflict. By spreading religious freedom we can address these problems at their root rather than managing their symptoms. 

 Ultimately, however, for me religious freedom is more personal than philosophical. As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I grew up hearing stories about the genocide my forbearers survived in Missouri. Joseph Smith, the prophet of the restoration, declared, “I am just as ready to die in defending the rights of a Presbyterian, a Baptist, or a good man of any other denomination.” He was martyred for his faith. 

 Choice is so central to our theology, that rather than crosses or stars, our children wear jewelry which says “CTR” for “Choose the Right.” And as soon as we are old enough to leave home, we serve missions, because Jesus said to “Go ye therefore and teach *all* nations.” So we roam around the world from door to door to every child of God, because one cannot choose if one does not know the options.

But 83% of the children of God on the earth live in a place where their choice of beliefs are restricted. 

 As a non-profit consultant, I have repeatedly seen how difficult it is to start a new organization. And it always seems that the most effective organizations tend to be underfunded because their attention is on operations rather than fundraising, whereas the organizations which focus on fundraising tend not to be very effective. So I founded the First Freedom Foundation to bridge the gap between donors and the best organizations. Together we can supercharge the best social entrepreneurs with the most innovative strategies to spread freedom of religion or belief around the globe.

Please join us in our quest to secure the freedom of religion or belief for every child of God on earth. 

Sincerely,

Our Team

Patrice Pederson

President

Patrice has over 20 years of experience in the international pro-family movement, including almost a decade as Founder and President of the International Family Caucus, founder of the UN Coalition for Women, Children, and the Family, and as the Executive Director of the World Congress of Families IX. She has worked for more than 20 political campaigns on five continents, and consulted for dozens of non-profit organizations around the world. She studied political science at Brigham Young University, and trans-organizational collaboration at Pepperdine University’s #1 ranked Master of Science in Organization Development Program.

Chandra Brown-Hendren

Vice President of Programs

Chandra has worked both as adjunct faculty and on the curriculum committee as Vice President of Administration at George Wythe University. She has also worked in media relations on campaigns and has created various events and programs for youth, adults, and legislators.

Dean Householder

Dean Householder

Vice President of Technology 

Dean has over 25 years of experience in technology ranging from programming websites to running server clusters that scale out to millions of visitors. He is passionate about religious freedom and loves bringing more freedom to the world.

Stephanie Butler

Vice President of Events and Special Projects 

Stephanie Butler works to help organizations bridge the gap between dreaming and doing through event planning, project management and change management consulting.  She received a Masters degree in Organizational Leadership and has worked with various organizations in both the private and non profit sectors.  Stephanie is a 6th generation Arizonan living in Washington D.C., with a passion for good food, good friends, and good stories.

Our Advisory Board

W. Cole Durham, Jr

Cole is the Founding Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at Brigham Young University, and Emeritus Professor of Law at the J. Reuben Clark Law School of Brigham Young University, where he held the Susa Young Gates University Professorship.  A graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, Durham has had a distinguished career in comparative constitutional and church-state law. He currently serves as president of the International Consortium for Law and Religion Studies based in Milan, Italy, and is co-editor-in-chief of the Oxford Journal of Law and Religion.

Marian Edmonds Allen

Marian is Executive Director at Parity, a national LGBTQ faith-affirming nonprofit is a co-founder of the LGBTQ Youth Continuum of Care, and has previously served as executive director to the OUTreach Resource Centers and the Utah Pride Center. She has been recognized for her decades of work with and for LGBTQ youth, including as a Petra Fellow and the 2014 Q Salt Lake Person of the Year.

Brian J. Grim 

Brian J. Grim, Ph. D., is president of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation (RFBF) and a leading expert on how faith and business build a better world. He is also the Global Chairman of the Biannual Business & Interfaith Peace Awards and Symposium. Brian is a global expert on international religious demography and the socio-economic impact of restrictions on religious freedom. He is a research associate at Boston University’s Institute on Culture, Religion & World Affairs (CURA) and a Non-Resident Scholar at the Institute for the Studies of Religion (ISR) at Baylor University. He is also a Distinguished Fellow at the Religious Freedom Center of the Newseum Institute in Washington, DC.

Tina Ramirez

Tina is the founder of Hardwired Global, which trains indigenous leaders how to defend themselves and those around them. She has also served as a policy researcher at the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, as director of international programs at The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, and as a foreign policy advisor for various members of the U.S. Congress where she helped found and direct the bipartisan Congressional International Religious Freedom Caucus.

Gayle Ruzicka

Gayle is the founder and President of the Utah Eagle Forum, the standard-bearers for conservative principles in Utah for nearly 30 years. Known for working with Phyllis Schlafly to stop the ERA, having homeschooled her twelve children in the galleries of the state legislature, and her ability to mobilize thousands across the state with a single phone call, she was named “Utah’s #1 Dealbreaker” by the Deseret News.