The first office of the Religious Research Foundation was opened by its founder, the Rev. Dr. Franklin Loehr, in 1952, with the motto Adding Facts to Faith. Dr. Loehr was both a scientist and an ordained minister and recognized the need for answers to spiritual questions that were based on proven facts rather than the dogma of any religion.
For several years, the Religious Research Foundation was active in spiritual research of all types: prayer, comparative religions, life after death, psychical research, reincarnation research, parapsychology, etc. Probably the best-known work of the foundation at that time was the prayer-plant experiment. With the combination of his degree in chemistry and his years as a minister, Dr. Loehr was the ideal leader of these laboratory investigations. He directed a controlled experiment on the effects of prayer on the growth of plants. 156 people took part in this project over a 3-year period, performing over 700 experiments, using more than 27,000 seeds with about 100,000 measurements. The results were outstanding, and proved that prayer is effective. These experiments were written up in newspapers across the country and
published in a best selling book by Dr. Loehr, The Power of Prayer on Plants, (Doubleday, 1959).
During the 1950s something happened that changed the focus of Religious Research to reincarnation. A spirit being by the name of Dr. John Christopher Daniels contacted Dr. Loehr and brought messages about past lives of certain individual people. When tested by Dr. Loehr, “Dr. John”--as he called himself--proved to be a reliable source of spiritual knowledge. With this, the focus of Religious Research shifted. When asked the reason for this change to the study of past lives, Dr. Loehr replied,
…because reincarnation research is bringing us the first direct scientific evidence of the soul. The basic teaching of every religion on the nature of man is incarnation–-that there is a spirit, something not of flesh, which is in the flesh, enfleshed, embodied, in each human being. In other words, what we call the soul. Every piece of evidence for reincarnation is doubly evidence of this basic religious teaching of incarnation. For if you have lived even once before, then that which was you in that former embodiment, and which carried over during the time of no embodiment between that life and your present life, and now is you in this incarnation, this embodiment – that is, defacto, your soul.
Through studying past lives, Religious Research began researching the soul and its many facets—work which continues to this day.