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Faith-Based Policy

A Litmus Test for Understanding Contemporary America

John Chandler

In 2001, George W. Bush created the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. The driving force behind the policy was to create a “level playing field” where faith-based organizations could compete on an equal footing with secular organizations for government funding of social aid programs. Given, on the one hand, the continuation of faith-based policy under Barack Obama and, on the other, the continued support by the vast majority of the American people for some form of such policy, the need has emerged to clearly understand what this policy is and the issues that it raises. Why? First, because the policy reveals new paradigms that explode traditional political and religious designations such as conservative–liberal or evangelical–progressive. Secondly, it is a policy which is setting precedents that with time will only become more entrenched in the institutional fabric of American government and the values of the culture. Finally, it does not seem to be a policy that is likely to just go away. And if it won’t go away, then, how should responsible policy be conducted?

While John Chandler's
Faith-Based Policy: A Litmus Test for Understanding Contemporary Americaresponds to this need to understand, it also acknowledges that there is already a substantial amount of documentation available, which, taken together, provides a comprehensive, though sometimes biased, picture of faith-based policy. This book contributes a relatively brief, impartial analysis that draws on and synthesizes the available information. More specifically, in order to dissipate the confusion surrounding the perceptions that many have had concerning the intention and meaning of the policy, this book provides insight into: 1) the theological visions of the faith-based actors behind the policy; 2) how these actors have tried to apply these visions as the program has evolved in the 2000s; 3) the divisiveness and debate that has characterized the faith-based experiment, and; 4) how all of the above may be held up for contemplation by the reader as a mirror of developing American culture.
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Lexington Books
Pages: 148Size: 6 x 9
978-0-7391-7902-4 • Hardback • December 2013 • $79.00 • (£52.95)
978-1-4985-5664-4 • Paperback • March 2017 • $39.99 • (£24.95)
978-0-7391-7903-1 • eBook • December 2013 • $37.99 • (£24.95)
John Chandler is senior lecturer at the Université de Valenciennes in France.

Chapter 1: The Need to Know
Chapter 2: Finding an Instrument of the Spirit - European Roots
Chapter 3: The Roots Take Hold in the United States
Chapter 4: The Context for Growth in the New Millennium
Chapter 5: From Theory to Application – Conflicting Signals
Chapter 6: Theory in Application - Conflicting Use of the Instruments
Chapter 7: New Theory – Obama and Lessons from Life
Chapter 8: New Theory – Obama, Niebuhr and Liberals
Chapter 9: Theory in Application – A New Partnership with Americans?
Chapter 10: Obama, Faith-Based Policy, and “the Center”

Works Cited
John Chandler is an essential, independent voice in the discussion of faith-based policy. This book is a must read for policy-makers, academics, and citizens. There is hope here for a future beyond our contemporary polarization.
Jack Rogers, Professor of Theology Emeritus, San Francisco Theological Seminary

John Chandler’s Faith-Based Policy: A Litmus Test for Understanding Contemporary America, rather than condemning or praising, is devoted to showing how this policy development illumines the role of religion in American public life. This is an unusual and valuable addition to the small number of books on this important policy that now spans three administrations and both parties. His comments on the connection between faith and public affairs for President Obama are provocative.
Stanley Carlson-Thies, Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance

One does not have to agree with all of the analyses and conclusions of Chandler to appreciate his skillful placing of 'faith-based initiatives' into their theoretical context. A must read for all students of faith-based organizations' evolving role in the public policy world.
Stephen V. Monsma, The Henry Institute of Calvin College

Each of three consecutive U.S. Presidents, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama, have initiated or expanded "faith-based" offices and programs. In this important, insightful, and engaging book, John Chandler adroitly describes, analyzes, and assesses the politics, policies, and personalities associated with this latest chapter in the history of church-state relations in America. Agree or not with Chandler's main ideas and interpretations, this is easily among the best, most erudite, and most even-handed books on the subject yet written.
John J. DiIulio Jr., University of Pennsylvania, First Director of University of Pennsylvania, former First Director of White House Office of Faith-Based Initiatives

[The author] offers insights into the development of charitable choice and other faith-based policies in the United States. His vantage point 'from afar' offers a helpful, critical distance from the inner workings of the policy process. . . .This book offers . . . important insights.
Journal of Church and State