Religion in Philanthropic Organizations: Family, Friend, Foe?

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Religion in Philanthropic Organizations explores the tensions inherent in religious philanthropies across a variety of organizations and examines the effect assumptions about "professional, scientific, nonsectarian" philanthropy have had on how religious philanthropies carry out their activities. The organizations examined include the American Friends Service Committee, the American Soviet Jewry Movement, Catholic Charities USA, the Salvation Army, the World Council of Churches, and World Vision (in global comparative context). The book also looks at Robert Pierce, founder of World Vision and Samaritan's Purse, and at matters not bounded by a single religious philanthropy: philanthropy and Jewish identity, American Muslim philanthropy since 9/11, and the complexities of the federal program that funds faith-based initiatives. These essays shed light on how religion and philanthropy function in American society, shaping and being shaped by the culture and its notions of the "common good."

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1 - New Wineskins or New Wine? The Evolution of Ecumenical Humanitarian Assistance

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The Evolution of Ecumenical Humanitarian Assistance

Elizabeth G. Ferris

THIS IS THE story of the global ecumenical movement and the way it has structured its philanthropic action in response to the needs of the world—and the needs of its members. In particular, it is the story of six decades of the World Council of Churches (WCC) and its many related organizations as they have grappled with the question of Christian responsibility to the poor and needy, to refugees, and to victims of floods, tsunamis, and earthquakes. The focus of this essay is on ecumenical humanitarian response—a term that perhaps needs some unpacking. An “ecumenical response” is one in which churches work together in their humanitarian action and see themselves as part of the global movement toward Christian unity. “Humanitarian response” refers to those actions toward people in immediate need or for people who are victims of conflicts, natural disasters, or oppressive governments. In its ideal form, humanitarian work is shaped by the basic principles of humanity, independence, impartiality, and neutrality.

 

2 - Religious Ambivalence in Jewish American Philanthropy

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Shaul Kelner

PASSOVER 1967. AFTER an outcry of protest in the West, the Soviet Union had eased restrictions on the baking and import of unleavened bread, restrictions that had been designed to stamp out the last vestiges of Russian Jewry's observance of the springtime festival of the matzoh. Responding to the policy change, the American Jewish Conference on Soviet Jewry (AJCSJ), an umbrella group of twenty-five of the largest Jewish nonprofit organizations in the United States, revised the Passover seder supplement that it had first published the year before. The new text, written to be read aloud in homes and synagogues during the meal in which Jews ceremonially recount the biblical Exodus story, dropped all reference to the Soviets’ ban on matzoh. Instead, it invoked Passover's general theme of liberation from bondage to contrast the religious freedoms enjoyed by American Jews with the religious and cultural oppression that the Jews of the USSR were being forced to endure. With millions of copies circulated in the national media and through synagogues across the country, the 1967 text read as follows:

 

3 - The Price of Success: The Impact of News on Religious Identity and Philanthropy

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The Impact of News on Religious Identity and Philanthropy

Diane Winston

THE SALVATION ARMY'S current scale of operations and degree of respectability bear little resemblance to the circumstances of its modest start in London's slums, a transformation due as much to the Army's portrayal by the press as to its natural evolution as a religious movement. Founder William Booth launched the Christian Mission in 1865; thirteen years later, when he changed his organization's name to the Salvation Army, Booth was already known as “the General.” Drawing on the prestige of the British military, he repurposed its trappings for a spiritual mission: “officers” (clergy) wore uniforms and preached to “soldiers” (laypeople) who practiced “knee drills” (prayers). A living metaphor, the Army's goal was to conquer the world for Christ, first mounting campaigns across Great Britain, then launching overseas invasions. Willing to try anything to reach the unchurched, Booth encouraged women to preach while male soldiers played barroom tunes on brass instruments. Troops engaged in street “warfare,” “occupied” high-profile public spaces, and “invaded” dens of iniquity to save sinners. Deemed unchristian by conventional churchgoers, Booth's innovations sparked angry sermons, censorious editorials, and rowdy protests.

 

4 - Heartbroken for God's World: The Story of Bob Pierce, Founder of World Vision and Samaritan's Purse

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The Story of Bob Pierce, Founder of World Vision and Samaritan's Purse

David P. King

AS FOUNDER OF both World Vision and Samaritan's Purse, Bob Pierce may rank as the leading religious philanthropist of the twentieth century. He first visited China as an evangelist in 1947. Upon his arrival, a Dutch Reformed missionary, Tena Hoelkeboer, invited him to preach to her school of four hundred Chinese girls. Pierce agreed, but, the day after his short evangelistic sermon, one of Hoelkeboer's students, White Jade, informed her father that she had converted to Christianity. Her father's response was to throw her out of the house. Hoelkeboer, distressed at the prospect of taking on yet another orphan, demanded of Pierce, “What are you going to do about it?”1 Pierce gave Hoelkeboer ten dollars, all the money he had, and promised to send more each month on his return to the United States. After his return home, Pierce recounted the story to his American audiences, and it continues to be retold as the origin of both World Vision and Samaritan's Purse. Pierce's initial overseas encounter changed him. He had gone as a young American evangelist but returned as a missionary ambassador, bringing both the spiritual and physical needs of the world to the attention of American evangelicals.2

 

5 - Catholic Charities, Religion, and Philanthropy

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Fred Kammer, S.J.

THIS ESSAY FOCUSES on Catholic Charities in the United States—what it does, how it is funded, and how it faces the tensions of philanthropy and Catholic identity. In the Catholic Charities world, the framework for this consideration is captured in a single word: pluralism. This essay explains the network's understanding of pluralism, how the faith-based debates of the past two decades did or did not affect Catholic Charities, and, using “the pluralism diamond,” the tensions experienced by a religiously affiliated social service network, the ways to maintain balance and identity amid those tensions, and the rationale for religiously affiliated social service agencies to partner with government, the largest funder of social services in the country.

It may be helpful at first to understand that the Catholic Charities USA network is not a single national organization with local branches like the Boy Scouts of America, the Salvation Army, or the Red Cross. Because the Catholic Church is structured in individual dioceses and because of the grassroots histories of these ministries, the Catholic Charities agencies are largely “homegrown.” (Dioceses are administrative divisions of the Roman Catholic Church that are generally based upon geographical areas as large as a single state [for example, Idaho or Wyoming] or as “small” as a large metropolitan area [such as Boston or Washington, D.C.].1) Many agencies are organized as a single not-for-profit corporation within a single diocese—for example, Catholic Community Services of Baton Rouge. They also may have different names, such as “Catholic Charities,” “Catholic Social Services,” or “Catholic Family Services.”

 

6 - “Intelligent Leadership in the Cause of Racial Brotherhood”: Quakers, Social Science, and the American Friends Service Committee's Interwar Racial Activism

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Quakers, Social Science, and the American Friends Service Committee's Interwar Racial Activism

Allan W. Austin

RECALLING THE EARLY years of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), Rufus Jones wrote that he and the organization's first members, “conscious of a divine leading,” had gone to work “aware, even if only dimly, that we were ‘fellow-laborers with God’ in the rugged furrows of the somewhat brambly fields of the world.”1 Jones's remark reveals a fundamental characteristic of Quaker religious identity: a belief in “the duty of Friends to live their faith and in so doing make the world a better place.”2 The many Quaker books of discipline today with “faith and practice” in their titles bear clear witness to this enduring foundational tenet of Quaker identity. The 1997 edition of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting's Faith and Practice, for example, connects belief and activism in Friends’ testimonies, which it describes as “expressions of lives turned toward the Light, outward expressions reflective of the inward experience of divine leading.”3

 

7 - Religious Philanthropies and Government Social Programs

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Sheila S. Kennedy

GOVERNMENT AGENCIES HAVE partnered with a wide variety of religious philanthropies for many decades, and, for most of that time, those partnerships have garnered relatively little attention or comment. That state of affairs changed rather abruptly in 1996 with the passage of Section 104 of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA).1

PRWORA was the first of a series of legislative acts that are usually referred to collectively as “charitable choice” laws. They were promoted as efforts to encourage greater numbers of religious charities (euphemistically labeled “faith-based organizations”2) to work with agencies of government to provide social services to the needy. The original charitable choice measures were buried within the massive welfare reform bill signed into law by President Clinton; however, when George W. Bush was elected president in 2000, he unveiled (with a good deal of fanfare) a new “faith-based initiative,” incorporating and building on charitable choice legislation. The initiative was frequently described as a centerpiece of the Bush administration’s domestic policy.

 

8 - Juggling the Religious and the Secular: World Visions

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World Visions

Susan McDonic

WORLD VISION INTERNATIONAL is a Christian multinational relief and development organization with operations in nearly one hundred countries. Their annual report for 2011 claims that they “served” 100 million people, directly benefited 4.1 million children through child sponsorship, and raised $2.79 billion in cash and goods.1 As such, this organization of nearly unbelievable magnitude is growing at an exponential rate. For instance, the World Vision partnership's income has tripled in the last eight years. It has been called variously “the largest development organization aside from the United Nations,”2 “the largest privately funded aid organization in the world,”3 and the world's largest Christian development organization. World Vision is clearly a huge player in the international field of development, with representatives lobbying and consulting with governments and the United Nations and others working with international ecumenical groups such as the World Council of Churches and the Jubilee movement. Further, it acts as a media source monitoring on the ground the political, environmental, and economic state of the world, providing information and news stories to all the major news agencies. Beyond this, World Vision had, until recently, a publishing house in the form of its subsidiary, Mission Advanced Research and Communication Center (MARC) publications.4 Additionally, each national office is involved in the production of numerous videos, magazines, and newsletters of its own. This is an organization with a massive global reach that circulates money, information, images, and material help transnationally, shaping and responding to global shifts of power, ideology, and economics.5

 

9 - Philanthropic Decisions of American Jews: The Influence of Religious Identity on Charitable Choices

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The Influence of Religious Identity on Charitable Choices

Arnold Dashefsky and Bernard Lazerwitz

A tourist to a foreign country entered the premier concert hall in the capital for a tour and inquired of the guide, “Is this hall named after the famous prize-winning author?” “No,” replied the tour guide, “it is named after a local person.” “So,” inquired the tourist of the guide, “what great work did your local author write?” To which, the tour guide replied, “A check!” Gifts of charity are generally viewed as generous, selfless acts, but Marcel Mauss and other social scientists noted that there is a payoff of some sort to the giver, although it may be viewed by some as in this world (i.e., social recognition or psychic gratification) or by others as in the next world (i.e., eternal salvation or a heavenly abode).1

Despite these rewards, a specter is haunting American society and the European community. It is the specter of devolution—the devolution of the responsibility for the poor, the ill, and the infirm from the government to the citizenry. This essay examines the conditions under which charity may fill the gap. Charity and philanthropy are conceptualized as part of the literature on gift exchange in society. Such gifts have reached extraordinarily high levels in recent years in the United States: $260 billion in 2004, representing 2.1 percent of GDP, with about three-quarters of that sum (or $199 billion) coming from individuals.2 The largest beneficiaries of those charitable gifts in 2004 were religious congregations and denominations, which received $93 billion or 36 percent of total contributions. That religion should receive the largest share of such contributions is not surprising since charity is a central tenet in the major religious traditions.

 

10 - Myth vs. Reality: Muslim American Philanthropy since 9/11

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Muslim American Philanthropy since 9/11

Shariq A. Siddiqui

THERE ARE DEFINING moments in our lives. I remember my parents describing the moment they first heard that John F. Kennedy was assassinated and when my professors talked about the moment Martin Luther King, Jr., or Robert Kennedy was killed. I was amazed by their memory and used to be thankful that such an event had not occurred in my generation's lifetime. That changed on September 11, 2001.

As I watched the horrific images on television, praying that the perpetrators were not Muslims, I knew that this moment was significant, but I did not realize that it would be a defining moment for Muslim Americans. The lives of Muslim Americans were changed in profound ways on that day. Many have argued that the events that followed due to the tragedy of 9/11 have had a negative effect on Muslim Americans and especially their philanthropic activity. In order to understand the impact on Muslim American philanthropy after September11, 2001, it is important first to understand Islamic philanthropy, learn about Muslim American history, and explore who Muslim Americans are before looking into their philanthropic activities.

 

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