Faith, Politics, and Power: The Politics of Faith-Based Initiatives

Faith, Politics, and Power: The Politics of Faith-Based Initiatives

by Rebecca Sager
     
 

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There is often more than meets the eye where politics, religion and money are concerned. This is certainly the case with the Faith-Based Initiative. Section 104, a small provision of the 1996 Welfare Reform bill called "Charitable Choice," was the beginning of what we now know as the Faith-Based Initiative. In its original form, the Initiative was

Overview

There is often more than meets the eye where politics, religion and money are concerned. This is certainly the case with the Faith-Based Initiative. Section 104, a small provision of the 1996 Welfare Reform bill called "Charitable Choice," was the beginning of what we now know as the Faith-Based Initiative. In its original form, the Initiative was intended to ensure that small religious groups were not discriminated against in the awarding of government funding to provide social services. While this was the beginning of the story for the initiative, it is not the end. Instead Charitable Choice served as the launching pad for growing implementation of Faith-Based Initiatives. These new policies and practices exist despite the fact that all levels of government already contract with religious organizations to provide social services. Nevertheless, government actors have been implementing the Initiative in myriad ways, creating new policies where none appear necessary.
Using data from multiple sources this book examines how and why states have been creating these policies and practices. The data reveal three key aspects of faith-based policy implementation by states: appointment of state actors known as Faith-Based Liaisons, passage of legislation, and development of state Faith-Based Policy conferences. These practices created a system in which neither the greatest hopes of its supporters, nor the greatest fears of its opponents have been realized. Supporters had hoped the Faith-Based Initiative would be about solving problems of poverty and an over-burdened welfare system, while opponents feared rampant proselytizing with government funds. Instead, these initiatives by and large did not offer substantial new fiscal support to those in need. In the place of this hope and fear, and despite the good intentions of many, these initiatives became powerful political symbols in the fight to reshape church/state relationships and distribution of political power.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"While this book is an academic treatment of faith-based initiatives, it is also accessible to non-academic readers and it will appeal to those interested in faith-based initiatives specifically or in social movements and symbolic policy development more generally. It would be a useful text for an undergraduate social movement class or as a case study in a graduate course on religious social movements and their interaction with the state."—Sociology of Religion

"This is an impressive book. . . . Sager's study holds timely lessons for policymakers. . . . [A] substantial contribution to our understanding of faith-based initiatives and contemporary church-state relations in the United States."—Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780195391763
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
01/15/2010
Pages:
264
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.90(d)

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Meet the Author

Assistant Professor of Sociology, Loyola Marymount University

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