Saving America?: Faith-Based Services and the Future of Civil Society / Edition 1

Saving America?: Faith-Based Services and the Future of Civil Society / Edition 1

by Robert Wuthnow
     
 

ISBN-10: 0691126283

ISBN-13: 9780691126289

Pub. Date: 01/30/2006

Publisher: Princeton University Press

On January 29, 2001, President George W. Bush signed an executive order creating the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. This action marked a key step toward institutionalizing an idea that emerged in the mid-1990s under the Clinton administration—the transfer of some social programs from government control to religious organizations.

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Overview

On January 29, 2001, President George W. Bush signed an executive order creating the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. This action marked a key step toward institutionalizing an idea that emerged in the mid-1990s under the Clinton administration—the transfer of some social programs from government control to religious organizations. However, despite an increasingly vocal, ideologically charged national debate—a debate centered on such questions as: What are these organizations doing? How well are they doing it? Should they be supported with tax dollars?—solid answers have been few.

In Saving America? Robert Wuthnow provides a wealth of up-to-date information whose absence, until now, has hindered the pursuit of answers. Assembling and analyzing new evidence from research he and others have conducted, he reveals what social support faith-based agencies are capable of providing. Among the many questions he addresses: Are congregations effective vehicles for providing broad-based social programs, or are they best at supporting their own members? How many local congregations have formal programs to assist needy families? How much money do such programs represent? How many specialized faith-based service agencies are there, and which are most effective? Are religious organizations promoting trust, love, and compassion?

The answers that emerge demonstrate that American religion is helping needy families and that it is, more broadly, fostering civil society. Yet religion alone cannot save America from the broad problems it faces in providing social services to those who need them most.

Elegantly written, Saving America? represents an authoritative and evenhanded benchmark of information for the current—and the coming—debate.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691126289
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
01/30/2006
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
376
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.80(h) x 1.00(d)

Table of Contents

List of Tables ix

Preface xiii

1. Why "Faith-Based"? Why Now? 1

Bringing Evidence to Bear 5

Beyond the Modernization Story 9

The Faith-Based Services Debate 12

Religion as an Embedded Practice 17

A Civil Society? 22

2. Congregation-Based Social Services 25

Formal Sponsorship of Service Programs 28

Members' Awareness of Service Programs 42

Congregations' Financial Contribution 46

Which Congregations Do More? 52

How Service Programs Are Organized 57

Conclusions and Unanswered Questions 61

3. Congregations as Caring Communities 64

Emphasizing the Value of Caring 66

Congregations as Civic Space 70

Caring in Small Groups 74

Congregations as Sources of Social Capital 79

Gregariousness 84

Congregations as Sources of Influential Friends 89

Overcoming Status Distinctions 92

Summing Up 94

4. Religion and Volunteering 99

What Surveys Show 102

Who Volunteers More? 106

Is Faith-Based Volunteering Different? 115

Volunteering and Connectedness 119

Motivations for Volunteering 121

Barriers to Volunteering 132

Some Unresolved Questions 135

5. Faith-Based Service Organizations 138

How Many Faith-Based Organizations Are There? 140

How is Faith Involved? 142

How Faith-Based Organizations Function 150

Arguments about Effectiveness 158

The Role of Faith in Nonsectarian Organizations 161

Challenges and Strategies 165

Conclusions 171

6. The Recipients of Social Services 176

Census Bureau Information 177

Evidence from Other Sources 181

Religious Characteristics of the Lower-Income Population 185

Needs and Services in a Small City 191

Conclusions 213

7. Promoting Social Trust 217

Trust among Lower-Income People 219

Desirable Traits of Caregivers 222

Tr ustworthiness of Service Providers 228

A Closer Look at Trust 232

Trust within Families and among Friends 240

Trust in Congregations 243

Trust in Service Agencies 247

When Trust Is Broken 250

The Social Contribution of Trust 254

8. Experiencing Unlimited Love? 256

How Caregivers Talk about Love 261

Do Recipients Experience Love? 269

The Role of Faith 275

Consequences of Receiving Care 279

Limited Love and the Realities of Social Life 284

9. Public Policy and Civil Society 286

Support for Government-Religion Partnerships 288

The Christian Conservative Movement 297

Is Civil Society One-Dimensional? 305

Methodological Note 311

Notes 315

Select Bibliography 333

Index 349

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