One example of mainstreaming research that leaves room for religious
perspective while not using it as the basis of research is the Intelligent
Design movement. Researchers in the hard sciences have left room for the
possibility of divine design and intervention and allow the science to
speak for itself. And what the evidence speaks is compelling indeed.
(That is a topic fit for a complete Special Focus feature, or you can
visit our Origins website).
In this Special Focus we discuss how, for example, research has helped
provide evidence for the effectiveness of prison rehabilitation programs
that employ spiritual approaches to reduce recidivism (rearrest) rates.
Once the data was in and publicized, politicians were freer to create
public policy that works--and happen to reflect biblical principles. We
also look at the ins and outs of faith-based social initiatives for the
poor, the government's role in the process, etc.
—Byron Barlowe, Editor/Webmaster, Leadership University
The "God Pod"
In a radio commentary describing the result of decisions made based on Dr.
Byron Johnson's research (see above) on rearrest rates:
"I've just returned from a very unusual weekend--one that reminded me of a
spiritual retreat. The governor of Texas, George Bush, was there, singing
hymns with an enthusiastic choir. One man after another testified of God's
grace in his life. Tears were shed and there were many hugs. But this was
no woodsy retreat center. It was a Texas prison. And what's going on there
offers a glimpse of what America needs to do to break the vicious cycle of
crime. Last April Prison Fellowship opened the first 'Christian prison' in
Doctors Differ on Issue of Assisted Suicide
National Institute for Healthcare Research
From a nonprofit organization specializing in research on the nexus of
spirituality and healthcare:
According to the [cited] study, "Those [physicians] who considered religion
very important in their lives were much less likely both to support
legalization and to consider personal involvement in assisted suicide...."
David B. Larson, M.D., president of the nonprofit National Institute for
Healthcare Research (NIHR), agrees. "Such findings are consistent with past
studies showing that strongly religious individuals are less likely to
choose suicide for themselves."
The Truth About Crime and Welfare
Professor John J. DiIulio, Jr.
The author, having worked in the criminal justice field for some time,
shares his thoughts about the current American prison system. He also
suggests reforms for welfare programs.
Excerpt: "With the Reverend Eugene Rivers of Boston and others, I am
actively working toward the goal of organizing one thousand black
inner-city churches around a faith-anchored ten-point youth and community
development plan. The plan has already shown miraculous results in Boston
and a few other cities. We aim to organize at least fifty churches in each
of the nation's twenty largest cities around the same plan. As Pastor
Rivers says, 'It's either barbed wire and more black juvenile
superpredators, or civil society and stronger black churches. It's that
The Place of Religiously Informed Scholarship in the Contemporary Academy
This paper is a transcript of a presentation made at the Institute for
Research in the Humanities, University of Wisconsin-Madison, in April of
1998 about the potential role of faith-based perspectives in philosophical
theorizing and in academic research programs generally.
Institutional "Faith Alone"
Richard John Neuhaus
First Things editor-in-chief Neuhaus agrees that opening faith-based social services up
to the kind of public funding proposed by former senator John Ashcroft
(also endorsed by Al Gore), known as "charitable choice," is risky. He
concurs with critics that funding may well send such services down a
slippery slope to onerous oversight or worse, yet he contends that it is
worth the risk. The outcome, he writes, is up to us (people and
institutions of faith).
Beating the Bearhug: The Hard Work Of Charitable Choice
Is Just Beginning
Olasky, editor of World magazine, personal advisor of George W. Bush and
originator of the "compassionate conservatism" concept, gives prescriptions
for faith-based poverty-fighting groups on their interaction with
Books in Review: When Sacred and Secular Mix
Review by Keith J. Pavlischek
When Sacred and Secular Mix: Religious Nonprofit Organizations and Public
Money was written by Stephen V. Monsma. Reviewed by Keith J. Pavlischek,
this book explores the relationship between religious nonprofit
organizations and the government.
Fighting poverty in Jesus' name...and with taxpayer funds?
Discusses Mississippi's Faith and Families program, which preceded former
Senator John Ashcroft's Charitable Choice initiative, a plan to help move
families off the welfare rolls while creating partnerships between
faith-based groups like churches and governments. Although some of the news
content is dated, the articles gives a clear, simple view of the pros and
cons of such efforts.
Books in Review: Renewing American Compassion
Review by Amy L. Sherman
'Renewing American Compassion' was written by Marvin Olasky and reviewed by
Amy Sherman. This book follows the author's previous work, 'The Tragedy of
American Compassion,' by criticizing the bureaucratic responses to those in
True Faith at Work: Habitat's "Theology of the Hammer"
"...As the presidential campaign heats up, we're going to hear a lot about
faith-based solutions to social problems. If you hear others saying it
won't work, tell them about Habitat for Humanity. This is faith in action."
Go here to see our past Special Focus features.