The "Purpose Driven" Policy? Explaining State-Level Variation in the Faith-Based Initiative
AuthorSager, Rebecca Elizabeth
Committee ChairChaves, Mark
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractEnacted as part of the 1996 Welfare Reform bill, the faith-based initiative was intended to ensure that small religious groups were not discriminated against in the awarding of government funding. While there has been a great deal of attention paid to changes at the federal level, little attention has been paid to how and why states are implementing the faith-based initiative. Currently, states are not required to implement any part of the initiative, other than guaranteeing that faith-based organizations (FBOs) will not be discriminated against in funding decisions. Nevertheless, states have been acting on the initiative in a variety of ways in the hope of increasing the number of faith-based organizations performing social services.Although religious groups have been receiving government funds to provide social services for much of American history, the faith-based initiative represents a new effort from both state and federal governments to encourage even greater participation. To understand the state-level faith-based implementation I focus on two research questions: Why are states creating faith-based policies and practices? What are these new policies and practices? Data collected from multiple sources reveal three key aspects of faith-based policy implementation: appointment of state actors known as Faith-Based Liaisons (FBLs), legislation, and presentation of state Faith-Based Policy conferences.While supporters argue that the faith-based initiative is about solving problems of poverty and an over-burdened welfare system, I find that these policies and practices do not respond to problems of poverty or welfare, and do not offer the substantial new help to the poor and needy that was promised by supporters. Instead, I find that state faith-based practices are more likely to be implemented in states with a strong evangelical movement presence. My data also shows that these practices are actually a series of symbolic policies that further the goals of the evangelical movement in two ways. First, state faith-based policies and practices enable the evangelical movement's greater goal of chipping away at church/state separation. Second, because these policies and practices reframe and reshape the church/state relationship in ways that appeal to deeply held ideological views by many in the United States, they have the potential to create new political allies for the evangelical movement.