Wheaton College Color Logo

September 2005 CACE eJournal

Welcome to the first edition of the Center for Applied Christian Ethics E-Journal. With this electronic periodical we hope to provide you with the most up-to-date information regarding CACE's activities. We will also offer you a window into the latest research by Wheaton College professors. In this number our Political Science colleague Amy Black presents some of the ethical challenges facing faith-based organizations that request government funding. Her insights are based upon the book Of Little Faith: The Politics of George W. Bush's Faith-Based Initiatives that she co-authored. We hope you enjoy our electronic journal and we look forward to your feedback.

Lindy Scott
Director of CACE

Upcoming Events:

CACE Fall Debate
The Role of the United States in the World Community

Thursday, Sept 15 7:30 p.m.
Edman Memorial Chapel
Wheaton College
Free and Open to the Public
Broadcast LIVE over WETN-TV and the internet. For broadcast information go to WETN

Featuring: Dr. Richard Land, The Ethic and Religious Liberty Commission and Dr. James Skillen Center for Public Justice

Reading the Sermon on the Mount
Conference Co-Sponsored by CACE and the Biblical & Theological Studies Department
Thursday, November 3 - Saturday November 5
Barrows Auditorium, Billy Graham Center, Wheaton College
Registration required. For Conference information and a brochure contact:
Liz.Klassen@wheaton.edu or call (630) 752-5197

Wheaton Lectureship in Christian Moral Formation
Monday, November 7- Wednesday November 9, 2005.
Ruth Padilla DeBorst inaugural speaker

New for 2005: CACE Ethical Issues

This year CACE will be posting summaries of literature published by Wheaton professors. Each one will focus on different ethical issues.

This month we will be featuring an article written by Dr. Amy Black.

OF LITTLE FAITH:

THE POLITICS OF GEORGE W. BUSH'S FAITH-BASED PROPOSALS

Amy E. Black, Douglas L. Koopman, and K. Ryden

In the presidential campaign of 2000, few ideas appeared as bipartisan as faith-based initiatives, a series of proposals that allow a greater variety of religiously affiliated social service programs to compete for federal dollars. But any broadly based bipartisan or interest group support for President Bush's faith-based legislative initiative, which combined charitable tax incentives with administrative changes making federal social service contracts more open to religious providers, soon fractured under the pressures of Washington, D.C. politics. Faith-based supporters had more success in the less-noticed administrative and judicial arenas, resulting by the fall of 2002 in very mixed results for faith-based proponents.

Of Little Faith relies extensively on data from interviews with dozens of policy makers, interest group leaders, and government officials to provide the first comprehensive account of the political story of the faith-based initiative. Although grounded in academic research, the book captures nuances and details of the story through the researchers' unprecedented access to the key players in the faith-based struggle.

Reporting faith-based developments in the legislative, executive, and judicial branches, the book first considers the fate of legislation in the House of Representatives. In July 2001, the House, on a very partisan vote, passed the Community Solutions Act, a faith-based proposal built around some constitutionally controversial changes. The main public theme of the House debate was expanding the range of religious groups eligible to receive federal funds in meeting the government's social policy objectives. But an important underlying issue, rarely mentioned, was the role of religion in the public square. Because Republicans controlled the House, the faith-based bill passed in that chamber without any resolution of the underlying issue, or any chance of further success for the House bill's main objective.

The Senate presented a starkly different political environment, with Democrats controlling the chamber, and recession and war dominating the political agenda. The Senate had the opposite leadership/interest group relationship as the House, with weak party control and strong interest group power, mostly indifferent or opposed to the House faith-based bill. As a result, the Senate faith-based package was far different in its focus from the House version, allowing some regulatory simplification, tax incentives, and higher spending in order to better meet human needs. It was essentially a tax and spending bill that was caught more in budget politics than in church/state controversies. Even so, the Senate bill never received sufficient support to pass the chamber.

Although the president's policy never received the needed congressional support to become law, the faith based initiative fared far better in the executive branch. The book examines executive branch actions to promote faith-based proposals, describing the political debates and decisions that led to the establishment, development, and eventual reorganization of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives and its satellite offices. Key points of tension include the choice of controversial and high profile John DiIluio as director, the events surrounding his August departure, and the strategic policy shifts in the aftermath of September 11 and on to a strategy to revive voluntary and non-profit institutions.

Finally, the book addresses the judicial issues that arise in the faith-based story and their future. In particular, it considers the constitutional issues surrounding the drive to more closely tie federal social services and the faith sector, including "charitable choice" language but mentioning broader issues as well. The book also discusses of the relevance of recent Supreme Court decisions interpreting both the establishment and free exercise religion clauses and focuses on the decisions of Justice O'Connor as the key Supreme Court justice on these issues.

Each of the book's three co-authors brings a combination of special expertise and practical experience that helps bridge the gap between theory and practice. Black was an APSA congressional fellow in 2000-2001 and writes about political behavior and interest group and identity politics. Koopman has extensive practical political experience and focuses his research in Congress and religion and politics. Ryden, for several years a practicing lawyer, has written extensively on how faith-based initiatives relate to constitutional questions and to the black church.

Purchase Dr. Black's book on Amazon.com