First Things is published by the Institute on Religion and Public Life, an interreligious, nonpartisan research and educational 501(c)(3) organization. The Institute was founded in 1990 by Richard John Neuhaus and his colleagues to confront the ideology of secularism, which insists that the public square must be “naked,” and that faith has no place in shaping the public conversation or in shaping public policy.
The Institute’s mission is to articulate a governing consensus that supports:
- a religiously pluralistic society capable of cooperating to defend human dignity from conception to natural death.
- a democratically, constitutionally ordered form of government supported by a religiously and morally serious culture.
- economic freedom that encourages a culture of personal and communal responsibility.
- genuine patriotism and loyalty to the Western tradition that provide a basis for responsible global citizenship.
The Institute’s flagship program, First Things magazine, is the leading intellectual journal of its kind in the United States. In addition to publishing ten issues of First Things each year, the Institute hosts educational programs that promote religiously informed analysis of culture, society, theology, and religious liberty. These programs include:
- Junior Fellows Program, a highly competitive, two-year residential program for recent college graduates looking to gain valuable experience in the worlds of publishing and public policy. Junior Fellows participate intimately in magazine production, are mentored by First Things editors in the art of writing for a broad audience, and gain unparalleled exposure to the best of contemporary artistic and intellectual life.
- Evangelicals and Catholics Together, an initiative which convenes key religious figures to articulate the common ground shared by evangelical and Catholic Christians on matters of theology, social thought, and public policy.
- The Erasmus Lecture, which brings a prominent speaker to New York each year to address a crowd of over 300 people. Previous Erasmus lecturers have included Pope Benedict XVI (as Cardinal Josef Ratzinger), Archbishop Timothy Dolan, and Dana Gioia, among many other noteworthy speakers.
- Colloquia, which bring together small groups of religious thinkers to engage in theological reflection over the course of several days on topics of importance. These colloquia not only provide a forum for private, candid, productive theological discussion, but also help to sustain the vigorous intellectual life on which the entire First Things project rests.
- An evening events series, which takes places in the Institute’s New York offices and includes over a dozen lectures, art events, and book signings each year. See past and upcoming Institute events here.
Read what people are saying about the Institute and First Things here.
Read more about the Institute and First Things in our most recent annual report.