Study Casts Doubt on Faith-Based Efforts

The Christian Century, November 29, 2003 | Go to article overview

Study Casts Doubt on Faith-Based Efforts


A new report suggests that one of the main arguments for government funding of religious social-service providers may be based on false assumptions. The doubts were raised by researchers at Indiana University--Purdue University of Indianapolis who this month ended a three-year study of the effectiveness of faith-based providers.

The project, conducted at the university's Center for Urban Policy, is the most comprehensive study of the issue since 1996, when Congress approved government funding of social services through churches and other religious groups. President Bush has tried to expand the number of government programs that can provide such funding.

Although advocates of the "charitable-choice" programs have often argued that religiously motivated charities are more effective at providing social services than their governmental or secular counterparts, the study's researchers concluded otherwise. Among other results, the Charitable Choice Research Project found:

* Religious organizations operating job-training programs placed 31 percent of their clients in full-time employment, while secular job-training organizations placed 53 percent of their clients.

* Those placed in jobs from secular job-training programs were more likely to have health benefits and to work more hours than were graduates of religious programs.

* "Relatively few" new religious groups in the states studied have begun accepting government money to perform social services. …

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Study Casts Doubt on Faith-Based Efforts
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