Op-Ed Articles Respond to Bush's Faith-Based Initiative

February 26, 2001

Source: The New Republic

On February 26, 2001, The New Republic published a piece by Benjamin Soskis on Bush's new faith-based initiative. He says that social scientists have done no empirical research yet that supports the claim that "faith-based programs work best...The unquestioning faith in faith's instrumentality is also compromised by the fact that studies [that support the claim of religious programs' superiority] define religion institutionally...and thus fail to differentiate between religion's social and doctrinal components...Given that much of the evidence suggests that community, not religion, is the critical factor in successful anti-poverty efforts, the administration's emphasis on faith may lead it not only to exaggerate the claims of religious groups but to ignore the achievements of secular ones." Soskis also cites a study that found that all but 10 percent of American congregations "are involved in merely short-term emergency remedies to poverty."