My friend John DiIulio and I have a piece in today’s New York Times about the 7th anniversary of the Faith-Based Initiative.
Here’s a snippet:
President Bush has promised much. It will be left to the next president to deliver on those promises. The good news is that every major presidential candidate seems open to doing just that.
Hillary Clinton has declared that there is no contradiction between “support for faith-based initiatives and upholding our constitutional principles.” John McCain has supported the idea especially as it relates to improving educational programs for disadvantaged children. Barack Obama describes faith-based programs as a “uniquely powerful way of solving problems” especially where former prisoners and substance abusers are concerned. When he was governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney created his own faith-based office.
Politicians from both parties have come to realize that faith-based programs are indispensable even if they are not miraculous. America’s churches, synagogues, mosques and other congregations supply dozens of major social services — like day care, homeless shelters and anti-violence programs — worth billions of dollars each year, as Ram Cnaan, a professor of social work at the University of Pennsylvania, has proved in several studies. Dr. Cnaan is not even counting the work done by inner-city religious schools and other local faith-based programs. From coast to coast, the primary beneficiaries of these services are low-income children and families who are not otherwise affiliated with the religious nonprofit organizations that serve them.