Moral Ambition: Mobilization and Social Outreach in Evangelical Megachurches

By Omri Elisha | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 6
Compassion Accounts

But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them
without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward
will be great, you will be sons of the Most High, because
he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as
your Father is merciful.

—Luke 6:35–36

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow

—T. S. Eliot, The Hollow Men

The dismantling of the federal welfare state in the 1990s sparked renewed public interest in religiously inspired or “faith-based” charity work and welfare activism. Religious conservatives in particular were emboldened by the idea that the downsizing of government’s role in the business of welfare would usher in a new era in which religious charities, social services, and local congregations would reclaim their rightful roles and legitimacy on issues of welfare and moral governance in community life. In addition to revivalist and missionary ideals, the moral ambitions of socially engaged evangelicals during this period were fueled to a large extent by the belief that faithful, discerning Christians (what George W. Bush called the “armies of compassion”) were best suited to the task of reviving the spirit of civic responsibility and local charity that many felt had been undermined by the welfare state and its liberal policies of entitlement. Yet despite their activist enthusiasm,

-153-

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Moral Ambition: Mobilization and Social Outreach in Evangelical Megachurches
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Chapter 1 - Introduction 1
  • Chapter 2 - Awaking Sleeping Giants 36
  • Chapter 3 - A Region in Spite of Itself 61
  • Chapter 4 - The Names of Action 85
  • Chapter 5 - The Spiritual Injuries of Class 121
  • Chapter 6 - Compassion Accounts 153
  • Chapter 7 - Taking the (Inner) City for God 183
  • Epilogue 214
  • Notes 223
  • References 241
  • Index 253
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