Dr John Templeton Jr, has died of cancer,. He was president and chairman of the John Templeton Foundation founded by his father, Sir John Templeton in 1954. The elder Templeton died in 2008.
Though the Foundation is not a religious foundation, it awards grants to many religious individuals and institutions. Focusing on what it calls “Science and the Big Questions” it regularly funds projects that explore connections between science and religion. The leadership of the foundation is expected to remain within the family.
During Templeton’s 20 years as president the foundation’s endowment grew from $28m to $3.34bn. In 2014 it awarded 188 grants, mostly to leading universities and scholars worldwide.The foundation has awarded $966m in grants and charitable activities since it was created. It awarded $103m in 2013, the last year for which figures are available, ranking it 55th in total giving of US foundations.
The foundation awards an annual Templeton Prize, a value of about $1.7m, making it one of
the world’s largest annual awards given to an individual (it is intended to surpass the monetary value of the Nobel Peace Prize). It honours a living person who has made contributions to life’s spiritual dimension. The 2015 prize was recently given to Jean Vanier, founder of L’Arche, a network for people with intellectual disabilities.
Templeton was the oldest of three children of Sir John. He trained in paediatric surgery at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia from 1973 to 1975 under the hospital’s surgeon-in-chief, C Everett Koop, US surgeon general from 1982- 89. During Templeton’s time at Children’s Hospital, it gained an international reputation for treating conjoined twins, Templeton performing numerous operations.
An evangelical, Templeton was a member of the Presbyterian Church of America, a theologically Christian conservative denomination. His father, also a member took a more spiritualistic view of ethics, as he had been influenced by the Unity School of Christianity, a movement that espouses a non-literal view of heaven and hell and a shared divinity between God and humanity founded by adherents of the metaphysician E B Weeks and Mary Baker Eddy (the founder of the Christian Science sect).
He served on a range of boards, including the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, Foreign Policy Research Institute, American Trauma Society and the National Bible Association. The Becket Fund was the organisation behind last year’s Hobby Lobby Supreme Court case which could have widespread impact, allowing corporations to claim religious exemptions from federal laws. Major donors to conservative causes and the Republican Party, in 2008 Templeton and his wife donated $1m to the Proposition 8 campaign that barred same-sex marriage in California The Proposition passed but was overturned by the judiciary.
Dr Templeton died of complications from cancer. Requiescat in pacem.