Institute for First Amendment Studies Records, 1920 -- 1999


Title: Institute for First Amendment Studies Records
Dates: 1920 -- 1999
Bulk Dates: 1984 -- 1988
Creator: The Institute for First Amendment Studies
Call Number: MS074
Size: 44.75 Linear Feet, 429 Audiovisual Object(s)
Language(s): English  
Permanent URL:
    Digital Collections and Archives, Tufts University


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.


This collection is organized in six series: Institute for First Amendment Studies publications; Subject files; Audiocassettes; Videocassettes; Periodicals; Tax records.


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.

Access and Use

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Some material in this collection may be protected by copyright and other rights. Please see "Reproductions and Use" on the Digital Collections and Archives website for more information about reproductions and permission to publish. Any intellectual property rights that the donor possesses have been transferred to Tufts University.

Preferred Citation

Institute for First Amendment Studies Records, 1920 -- 1999. Tufts University. Digital Collections and Archives. Medford, MA.

Collection History

Processing Notes

This collection is processed.

Subjects and Genre Terms

Series Description

  1. Institute for First Amendment Studies publications, 1984 -- 1997

    This series contains issues of Freedom Writer and Walk Away, peridiocals published by the Institute for First Amendment Studies. Most issues of Freedom Writer from Sept. 1984 (the first issue) through Sept./Oct. 1997 are represented, as is much of Walk Away from Spring 1989 through Spring 1995. Copies of most of the missing issues of Freedom Writer can be found in the subject files, in box 46, folder 011.

    These publications are folder-level cataloged. The publications were received in chronological order, by publication title, and this order has been preserved. Freedom Writer, which was titled Control Q from vol. 1, no. 1 through Vol. 2 , no. 2, reports on and analyzes the activities of the Religious Right in America, and discusses issues pertaining to religious freedom. Walk Away is published for former fundamentalists and addresses issues relating to leaving fundamentalist religious groups.

  2. Subject files, 1920 -- 1999

    Subject files of newspaper and magazine clippings, correspondence, and newsletters produced by or about the American religious right and fundamentalist Christian groups, collected by the Institute for First Amendment Studies (IFAS). Most materials date from 1985 to 1996. These materials were collected as part of IFAS' efforts to document and counter the activities of the religious right. The subject files as a whole cover an extensive range of individuals, groups, and ideas that were part of the religious right or its opposition in the late 20th century, including the Christian Coalition, the National Association of Christian Educators/Citizens for Excellence in Education, Focus on the Family, D. James Kennedy and the Coral Ridge Church, the Council for National Policy, Colorado for Family Values, and the American Family Association, as well as humanistic organizations. This series originally included many clippings from major newspapers, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, USA Today and the Wall Street Journal, and major national magazines, which were removed during processing. The original order of the subject files has been maintained as far as possible. Most files were received in alphabetical order, the exceptions being larger collections on the American Family Association/Don Wildmon, the Christian Coalition and Pat Robertson, the Christian Coalition's 1996 Road to Victory campaign, Colorado for Family Values, the Council for National Policy, D. James Kennedy/Coral Ridge Church and the National Association for Christian Educators (NACE)/Citizens for Excellence in Education (CEE). These larger subject collections have not been interfiled into the larger alphabetical collection, but have been placed at the end of the subject files series. In addition, materials on Abortion and the Supreme Court were grouped within the alphabetical sequence of materials, but out of alphabetical order; they have been placed at the end of the A's and S's, respectively. A small group of files beginning with the letter "P" were received with materials relating to NACE/CEE and were left in that location during processing (i.e., they are filed out of alphabetical order, in box 66).

  3. Audiocassettes, 1980 -- 1999

    Included in the collection are tapes of talks and speeches made by members of the Religious Right documenting the movements goals and concerns, which were collected by the Institute for First Amendment Studies. Also included are tapes of radio broadcasts in which IFAS founder Skipp Porteous discussed the Religious Right, sometimes in conjunction with representatives of conservative religious organizations. Most of the tapes in this series were produced between 1993 and 1998, although many date back to 1986-1988.

    This series includes a large number of taped talks from the Christian Coalition's Road to Victory conferences from 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, and 1998, and many from the Reclaiming America Conference held in 1994. Other groups represented in this collection include Concerned Women for America, Focus on Family, and the Council for National Policy. Of these tapes, 394 were numbered and indexed; this order has been maintained.

    The remaining tapes have been sorted by the conference at which the material was created, or by the group responsible for their production, as applicable. Tapes in special, off-sized packaging and the microcassettes are grouped at the end of the series.

  4. Videocassettes, 1984 -- 1998

    Videotapes collected by the Institute for First Amendment Studies. Most were produced between 1987 and 1998. These tapes are part of IFAS' collection of information on the activities of conservative Christian groups, and involve figures and subjects associated with the Religious Right and IFAS founder Skipp Porteous. Most of the tapes were assigned index numbers by IFAS, and for this portion of the series the original, numerical order was preserved. This series includes tapes of the 700 Club's broadcasts, primarily between June, 1989 and January, 1991, with some tapes from 1995-1998. In addition, the collection includes videotapes from the Christian Coalition's Road to Victory meetings in 1991, 1993, 1994, 1995 and 1998.

  5. Periodicals, 1974 -- 1997

    The bulk of this series consisted of periodicals produced by the Religious Right, from the period 1985-96. Most of these periodicals were received in relatively short runs and/or with gaps in the holdings and are held at other institutions. Only those titles that were not found elsewhere were retained. The following titles were received from IFAS, but not retained in the permanent collection: Abundant Life, AFA Journal. Aglow, Awake!, Battle Cry Sounding, Biblical Archaeological Review, Biblical Evangelist, The Brief (ABA Tort & Insurance Section), Campus Life, Chalcedon Report, Charisma & Christian Life, Christian American, Christian Crusade Newspaper, Christian Legal Society Quarterly, Christian Reader, Christian Zion Advocate, Christianity Today, Church and State, Command (Officers' Christian Fellowship), Common Sense, Concerned Women for America, Crosswinds, Cult Observer, Decision, Discipleship Journal, Evangelist, Family Voice, Farmers & Consumers Report, Focus on the Family Citizen, Focus on the Family with Dr. James Dobson, Free Inquiry, Freedom (Church of Scientology), Fundamentalist Journal, Healing Messenger, Jezreel's Call, Last Days, Latin America Evangelist, Liberty Report (Moral Majority), Life Advocate, Match!, Men of Action (Promise keepers), Ministries Today, Moody, Moral Majority Report, New American, New Dimensions: The psychology behind the news, New Last Hot Blast, New Man, Peace Work (FASC), Pentecostal Evangel, Perhaps Today, Quiet Revolution, Review of the News, Rutherford Institute Newsletter, Rutherford , Rutherford Institute Magazine, Rutherford Journal, Seeds of Promise, Southern California Christian Times, Spotlight, Target, Today's Father (National Center for Fathering), Truth At Last, Upright Ostrich, Watchtower, Wisdom's Cry, Women Alive!, Words of the Spirit, World (God's World Publications), Your Good Neighbor, Zion's Fire.

  6. Tax records, 1973 -- 1996

    Copies of 990 tax forms from various foundations collected by the Institute for First Amendment Studies. 990 forms are submitted to the IRS by private, tax-exempt foundations, and include information on their sources of income, assets, and expenses. These forms were provided to IFAS by the IRS. Most of the records are for tax years 1988-1994. The 990s were collected as part of the IFAS' efforts to gather information on the religious right. These forms were filed by IFAS in alphabetical order, by foundation, and this order has been preserved.