Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

African-American churches and the faith-based initiative

This article describes this study, also summarized here. I’m not surprised by the results, which suggest that bigger churches with active outreach programs were more likely to seek support from the government than were the myriad small and poor churches in the African-American community. Here’s the most politically interesting observation in the WaPo article:

Black churches in the Northeast and those with self-identified progressive congregations and liberal theologies were most likely to be taking part in the program, a finding that surprised the researchers, who concluded that the White House has not used the program as a political tool as some critics have suspected.

"Those people who were most worried can exhale," said Robert M. Franklin, a professor of social ethics at Emory University who worked as a consultant on the survey. "Churches have not been manipulated by Karl Rove. They have not sold out."

Bet you won’t see these findings trumpeted by the religious left.

Update: A reader sent in
this article, which shows how a Democratic challenger distorts the meaning of the co-religionist exemption in the faith-based initiative as part of a campaign to persuade African-American voters that Rep. Anne Northrup supports discrimination. I guess John Yarmuth doesn’t care about how the faith-based initiative has helped African-Americans help themselves.

Discussions - 5 Comments

Joe, as always: interesting and informative. Thanks.

If you look at Amy Black, et. al.’s book on this, it’s pretty clear even there that part of the reason that the initiative hasn’t gotten more legislative success is precisely this - that it cuts across the grain of partisan loyalties.

I long ago argued that there was an interestingly political dimension to this initiative--for example, here and here.

There are of course crass people out there, like the Rev. Luis Cortes, Jr., who makes an all-too-revealing comment in this article:

In 2004, the Bush administration’s courtship paid off. Cortes, who had backed Ralph Nader in 2000, endorsed Bush. And on Election Day, Bush’s share of the Hispanic vote rose from 31 percent to at least 40 -- with virtually all of the increase coming not from Catholics but from Protestant evangelicals like Cortes. After the election, Cortes told The New York Times, "I’m not red, and I’m not blue. I’m brown. You want an endorsement? Give us a check, and you can take a picture of us accepting it. Because then you’ve done something for brown."


Very interesting anecdote. I suspect Republican leaders and candidates have often been treated like this in the ’hood.

And the article provides yet another argument against the ill-conceived "faith-based initiative."

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