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

Paperback | May 15, 2012

byRebecca 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 theFaith-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 withreligious 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 developmentof 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.

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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 theFaith-Based Initiative. In its original form, the I...

Rebecca Sager is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Loyola Marymount University.
Format:PaperbackDimensions:264 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.68 inPublished:May 15, 2012Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199920265

ISBN - 13:9780199920266

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Table of Contents

1. An Introduction to the Faith-Based Initiatives2. The Historical Role of Religion in Government Social Services and the Development of the Faith-Based Initiatives3. Faith-Based Liaisons: Finding Faith in the Faith-Based Initiatives4. Making the Initiatives the Law of the Land5. Calling All the Faithful: Faith-Based Conferences and Liaison Choices as Symbolic Politics6. Here, There, but Not Quite Everywhere: Why are there Faith-Based Initiatives?7. Religion, Policy, and Politics: Institutionalizing Religion within State Government8. Conclusion: What is Success?

Editorial Reviews

"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