Faith-Based Programs Essay

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A faith-based program is a social service or advocacy organization that explicitly affirms a particular religious or spiritual affiliation as part of its mission. Historically, these organizations (e.g., the Salvation Army, Catholic Social Services, Jewish Family Services) have provided a significant proportion of social services to communities. They have been a stable provider because of their historic links to various religious traditions with strong values regarding the responsibility to provide for those in need due to crisis, poverty, violence, and so on. In many communities they have operated side-by-side with governmentsponsored programs addressing the same problems. Some have also provided leadership in social change efforts by addressing institutional inequities.

The advantage of utilizing faith-based programs to help provide services to the community is that they are often well established, trusted, and effective and have a strong volunteer base. In addition, they have provided faith-based support and counseling within the context of particular religious and cultural traditions (e.g., a domestic violence program sponsored by a local mosque or a Christian shelter for battered women).

The challenge within a democracy like the United States that affirms a separation of church and state comes with the possibility of the use of public funds by faith-based organizations. Historically these organizations have been supported only by private funds.

In order for a faith-based agency to receive government funding, (a) it must freely serve anyone who seeks its services, regardless of religious affiliation (or nonaffiliation); (b) it must not require participation in any religious activities in order to receive services; and (c) it must not proselytize.

For faith-based organizations, the receipt of government funding can limit their traditional program, so they may have to revise their offerings. For those who are comfortable with the limitations, federal funding can provide significant support.


  1. Adams, C. J., & Fortune, M. M. (Eds.). (1995). Violence against women and children: A Christian theological sourcebook. New York: Continuum.
  2. Ellison, C. G., Trinitapoli, J. A., Anderson, K. L., & Johnson, B. R. (2007). Race/ethnicity, religious involvement, and domestic violence. Violence Against Women, 13, 1094–1112.

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