By Ram A. Cnaan
As the federal system of entitlements and social services long provided by New Deal--era programs is dismantled and shifted to the states, the religious community finds itself relied upon more than ever to assist with social services for the needy.
The Newer Deal calls upon religious-based organizations and the social work--social service community to put aside their differences and forge a "limited partnership" to provide the social and welfare services that millions depend on. The proposed partnership focuses on joint care for those in need -- with attention to services for people of color, gays and lesbians, women, and programs for community empowerment and economic development -- while maintaining the values and other interests each partner traditionally holds.
The authors discuss different types of religious-based social services and draw on case examples and research findings to show how the religious community's role in providing social services is stronger than ever. They examine the relationship between the religious and the social work--social service communities, as well as the issues that have divided the two, and explain the ways in which concern for the poor is integral to the major faith groups.