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Working Faith: Faith-Based Organizations, Government Funding and the Future of Welfare-to-Work

Monday June 2002

Participants: Stephen V. Monsma, Fellow, Center for Research on Religion and Urban Civil Society, University of Pennsylvania, Professor of Political Science, Pepperdine University; Charles Murray, Bradley Fellow, American Enterprise Institute; Joseph Loconte, William E. Simon Fellow in Religion and a Free Society, Heritage Foundation; Elaine Kamarck, Lecturer in Public Policy, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University; Feather O. Houston, Secretary of Public Welfare, State of Pennsylvania
Moderator: John J. DiIulio, Ph.D.

The President’s Faith-Based Initiative continues to be highly controversial, with many on all sides of the political spectrum leery of subsidizing faith-based groups with government dollars. Critics from the left are afraid government funding would spread religion while those from the right fear it would “seduce the Samaritan.” What does the evidence show? Is government funding of faith-based organizations so novel? Does contact with government have a chilling effect on religious content in social programs? Do most faithbased groups place their beliefs at the heart of their activities?

The ongoing welfare reauthorization debate also has implications for faith-based groups. If the President’s proposal to dramatically increase the work requirement is passed, much more assistance will be needed to place welfare recipients in jobs. Can the “armies of compassion” help meet this need?

A roundtable forum of leading experts in welfare reform and faith-based organizations will examine these questions based on the evidence in a new study, Working Faith: How Religious Organizations Provide Welfare-to-Work Services, sponsored by the Manhattan Institute and the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Research on Religion and Urban Civil Society (CRRUCS). Working Faith examines the nature of faith-based welfare-to-work programs, particularly in relation to their funding by, and contact with, the government.

The study’s author, Stephen V. Monsma, Professor of Political Science at Pepperdine University and a Non-Resident Fellow at CRRUCS, investigated programs in four cities across the country: Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia. He will present his findings and explain their larger implications on the welfare and faith-based issues. The roundtable forum will follow that presentation.