Before September 11, the nation engaged in a broad debate over faith-based institutions and their role in solving social problems. The role of voluntary institutions in the alleviation of poverty has become all the more crucial in the economic downturn. Since September 11, the importance of religion in our civic life has been underscored by the spontaneous search of many Americans for solidarity, understanding, and comfort through their congregations and by a newly urgent national discussion about religious liberty and pluralism.
Sacred Places, Civic Purposes: Should Government Help Faith-Based Charity?, edited by E.J. Dionne Jr. and Ming Hsu Chen, is a collection of essays designed to address the issues raised by the partnering of government and religious organizations. The book deals specifically with three questions: what faith-based groups are doing, how the government could usefully help, and where the government could usefully get out of the way, from either the perspective of the religious groups themselves or on constitutional grounds. The Brookings Institution and the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life held a discussion with contributors from the book, religious leaders, and policy experts with different perspectives on these complex issues.
E.J. DIONNE JR.
Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution
Columnist for the Washington Post
Co-chair, the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life
THE HON. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON
United States Senator, New York (D)
JOHN J. DIIULIO JR.
Former Director, White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives
Professor of Politics, Religion, and Civil Society, University of Pennsylvania
Senior Fellow, Manhattan Institute and Nonresident Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution
Chairman, Corporation for National and Community Service
Faculty Director, Innovations in American Government Program, Harvard University
Former Mayor of Indianapolis