Sacred Places, Civic Purposes

Should Government Help Faith-Based Charity?

Long before there was a welfare state, there were efforts by religious congregations to alleviate poverty. Those efforts have continued since the establishment of government programs to help the poor, and congregations have often worked with government agencies to provide food, clothing and care, to set up after-school activities, provide teen pregnancy counseling, and develop programs to prevent crime.

Until now, much of this church-state cooperation has gone on with limited opposition or notice. But the Bush Administration's new proposal to broaden support for "faith-based" social programs has heated up an already simmering debate. What are congregations' proper roles in lifting up the poor? What should their relationship with government be?

Sacred Places, Civic Purposes explores the question with a lively discussion that crisscrosses every line of partisanship and ideology. The result of a series of conferences funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts and sponsored by the Brookings Institution, this book focuses not simply on abstract questions of the promise and potential dangers of church-state cooperation, but also on concrete issues where religious organizations are leading problem solvers. The authors - experts in their respective fields and from various walks of life - examine the promises and perils of faith-based organizations in preventing teen pregnancy, reducing crime and substance abuse, fostering community development, bolstering child care, and assisting parents and children on education issues. They offer conclusions about what congregations are currently doing, how government could help, and how government could usefully get out of the way.

Contributors include William T. Dickens (National Community Development Policy Analysis Network and the Brookings Institution), John DiIulio (White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives and University of Pennsylvania), Floyd Flake (Allen AME Church and Manhattan Institute), Bill Galston (Unversity of Maryland), David Hornbeck (former superintendent, Philadelphia Public Schools), George Kelling (Rutgers University), Joyce Ladner (Brookings Institution), Joan Lombardi (Children's Project), Pietro Nivola (Brookings Institution), Eugene Rivers (Azusa Christian Community Center), Isabel V. Sawhill (National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy and the Brookings Institution), Lisbeth Schorr (Harvard Project for Effective Interventions), Peter Steinfels (New York Times), Jim Wallis (Sojourners), and Christopher Winship (Harvard University).