Did the faith-based initiative change congregations?
We use national surveys of congregations conducted in 1998 and 2006-2007 to assess whether or not the faith-based initiative increased congregations' social service involvement, government funding, or collaborations with government or nonprofit organizations. More congregations indicated interest in social services and government funding in 2006-2007 than in 1998, but congregational involvement in social services, government funding, or collaborations has not increased since 1998. An in-depth local study of partnerships between congregations and nonprofit social service agencies leads to the same conclusion. The faith-based initiative did not change congregations' behavior or expand their role in our social welfare system because it overlooked congregations' longstanding role in community systems, and it was built on false assumptions about congregations' latent capacity to expand that role and the extent to which they constitute a meaningful alternative to existing organizational networks of social support. © 2010 SAGE Publications.
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