Religious Organizations in Community Services: A Social Work Perspective

Religious Organizations in Community Services: A Social Work Perspective

Religious Organizations in Community Services: A Social Work Perspective

Religious Organizations in Community Services: A Social Work Perspective

Synopsis

This book explores the scope and breadth of religious organizations in social work practice. It begins by tracing the origins of the social work profession back to the earliest civilizations and their religious traditions, establishing the precedent for a fruitful commingling of religion and social welfare. The contributors propose that religious/faith organizations can assume responsibilities for social welfare in the 21st century, using the Korean Church as one example of an effective provider of social services. A 12-step model for religious organizations to use to develop community action programs is also presented.

Excerpt

Terry Tirrito

The purposes of this book are to review the historical role of religious/ faith organizations in providing social services to those in need, to propose that religious/faith organizations can assume this responsibility again in the 21st century, to explain how the Korean church has successfully provided social services to its congregations, and to provide a model for religious organizations to use to develop community action programs.

Political changes in the United States and around the world demonstrate that most developed and underdeveloped societies are not meeting the social needs of their people. After a long history of informally providing services to those in need, in the 20th century, the church in the United States emerged as an institution that had relinquished this responsibility of helping the poor and underprivileged in local communities, and federal and state governments assumed this role.

In this new millennium economic and political conditions demand a new perspective, and religious/faith organizations are being asked to once again become involved in providing social assistance. Throughout this book “the church” is frequently used to refer to religious/faith organizations. The authors wish to remind readers, however, that religious organizations include temples, synagogues, and mosques as well as churches.

In Part I, the historical role of faith organizations in relation to social welfare is discussed. In the first chapter Cascio describes the major religions of the world and provides a foundation of the historical details that explain the basis for charity. In particular the teachings of Protestantism, Catholicism, Judaism, and Islam regarding charity and their approaches to the poor are highlighted. In looking at historical figures such as Moses and Maimonides in Judaism, Saint Thomas of Aquinas in Catholicism, and Mohammed in Islam, Cascio examines their roles in the shaping of charitable institutions.

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