Lew Daly God and the Welfare State

ISBN 13: 9780262042369

God and the Welfare State

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9780262042369: God and the Welfare State
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When the Bush administration's faith-based initiative was introduced in 2001 as the next stage of the "war on poverty," it provoked a flurry of protest for violating the church-state divide. Most critics didn't ask whether it could work. God and the Welfare State is the first book to trace the ideas behind George W. Bush's faith-based initiative from their roots in Catholic natural law theory and Dutch Calvinism to an American think tank, the Center for Public Justice. Comparing Bush's plan with the ways the same ideas have played out in Christian Democratic welfare policies in Europe, the author is skeptical that it will be an effective new way to fight poverty. But he takes the animating ideas very seriously, as they go to the heart of the relationship among religion, government, and social welfare. In the end Daly argues that these ideas -- which are now entrenched in federal and state politics -- are a truly radical departure from American traditions of governance. Although Bush's initiative roughly overlaps with more conventional conservative efforts to strengthen private power in economic life, it promises an unprecedented shift in the balance of power between secular and religious approaches to social problems and suggests a broader template for "faith-based governance," in which the state would have a much more limited role in social policy.

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About the Author:

Lew Daly is an independent scholar who lives in New York City. He studied religious ethics at Union Theological Seminary and has worked as a prison chaplain.

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Bush II's "faith-based initiative," by which religious charities get federal funding without having to compromise their principles, has raised a lot of sand, and whether religious are more effective than public welfare agencies remains unproven (the matter is under study). Meanwhile, the trend of jurisprudence is definitely against First Amendment challenges to the initiative. In light of all this, Daly counsels hope for resolute antipoverty warriors. The ideas informing the initiative are, he says, those of European Christian democracy, which in the early twentieth century transformed the Netherlands, and after World War II, West Germany, into the most equitable societies on earth when Christian Democrat governments put them in practice. Both Catholic, stated in the social encyclicals of Popes Leo XIII and Pius XI, and Prote-stant, advanced by Dutch theologian--politician Abraham Kuyper, Christian democratic thinking deplores concentrated wealth and, applied, could greatly alleviate American poverty. Daly doesn't address such complicating factors as the effects of massive immigration on all welfare provision, but he does, indeed, revive the prospect of effective welfare. Ray Olson
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9780262533898: God and the Welfare State (Boston Review Books)

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ISBN 10:  0262533898 ISBN 13:  9780262533898
Publisher: The MIT Press, 2016
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