Two things of note.
First, John DiIulio is back. In the 1990s, DiIulio emerged as one of the most consequential voices in public policy. Articles like this one and this one and this one and scores of others challenged the status quo and changed social policy.
After his time in the Bush White House, however, he stepped back from the public life just a bit. He continued to teach his beloved students and to roll up his sleeves to work on the ground with prisoners kids and in New Orleans and across Philly. His articles, however, were less frequent.
That is changing. His recent article on Hillary and Huckabee, his new book, and this piece for the Wall Street Journal are emphatic statements that John DiIulio is back in the public arena of debate and that is wonderful, wonderful news.
Now, his new article on Faith-Based in the Wall Street Journal:
Philadelphia might just have easily been a city where faith-based initiatives petered out. The city is run by a Democratic mayor — John F. Street — and is in a state that is becoming solidly Democratic. Pennsylvania has come up blue in a string of presidential elections stretching back to 1992. And last year, voters ousted Sen. Rick Santorum, a Christian conservative Republican. He lost his bid for a third term, in part, because he failed to win support in Philadelphia’s suburbs.
But the rejection of Republican Christian politicians doesn’t mean rejection of a faith-based approach to social problems. A 2006 study, “The Other Philadelphia Story,” by University of Pennsylvania researcher Ram A. Cnaan, found that religious fervor for providing social services remains vibrant.
His researchers gathered information (often visiting) from nearly all of the city’s 2,120 congregations. They confirmed previous estimates that these congregations supply services that would cost the city at least a quarter-billion dollars a year to provide. These services include food pantries, drug and alcohol prevention programs, homeless shelters, health screening, day care, crime watch, anti-violence programs, welfare-to-work programs….
…Ironically, the biggest obstacles that remain for faith-based organizations receiving government funding are now in Washington. Some of those obstacles are within the Bush White House, where some gun-shy staffers are intent on placating libertarian activists who blame the president and spending for the GOP’s recent woes, and the faith-based initiative as one reason for runaway spending.
Legacy-minded loyalists of the president, however, need to keep in mind that on children’s health insurance, preschool education and other issues, Mr. Bush risks giving historians reason to see “compassionate conservatism” as nothing more than anti-government conservatism in religious drag.