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Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance

About IRFA

IRFA protects and promotes the freedom needed by faith-based organizations so that they can make their distinctive contributions to the common good.


The Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance safeguards the religious identity and faith-shaped standards and services of faith-based organizations, protecting their ability to serve the community in accordance with their respective missions.

IRFA works to advance public policies and public attitudes that respect the character and service of faith-based organizations. IRFA supports and honors the spectrum of organizations that comprise the religious pluralism of our society.

IRFA’s foundational guide is the historical and classical teachings of Christianity. IRFA members understand these teachings to favor a vigorous but limited government, flourishing civil society institutions, and public policies that treat equitably individuals and organizations of every faith and secular conviction, consistent with the common good.

IRFA’s Vision

IRFA envisions a future where government protects the right to exist and serve of organizations of every religion and philosophical commitment. In that future, faith-based schools and colleges, child care centers and domestic abuse shelters, houses of worship in their services to their neighborhoods, hospitals and clinics, counseling services and low-income housing programs, and more will be free to serve as their faith inspires them.

Pro-FBO Law & Policy

Religious Hiring


IRFA’s History

IRFA was founded as an independent membership organization in 2008 by Stanley Carlson-Thies, who for many years had been leading the Center for Public Justice’s religious freedom advocacy and public policy initiatives. IRFA developed out of the work of the Coalition to Preserve Religious Freedom, a Washington, DC-based multi-faith network of social-service, education, and religious freedom organizations that since 2003 has advocated for institutional religious freedom to Congress, the administration, and the press. In September, 2014, IRFA became a division of the Center for Public Justice.


Stanley Carlson-Thies is Founder and Senior Director of the Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance. He is co-author of Free to Serve (2015), helped to create and was on the initial staff of the Bush White House faith-based office (2001-2002), and was an advisor to the Obama faith-based initiative. He consults with faith-based organizations and with federal, state, and local government officials. His political science Ph.D. is from the University of Toronto. In May, 2019, he was presented the national religious freedom award by the North American Religious Liberty Association of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

He is the organizer and host of the Coalition to Preserve Religious Freedom.

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