April 26, 2003
Religion,Race, and Poverty
in the Post-Welfare Era
Bulldog Newspaper Staff Writers
-- Congregations and faith-based organizations have become
key participants in America's welfare revolution. Recent legislation
has expanded the social welfare role of religious communities,
thus revealing a pervasive lack of faith in purely economic responses
Charitable Choices is an ethnographic
study of faith-based poverty relief in 30 congregations in the
rural south. Drawing on in-depth interviews and fieldwork in Mississippi
faith communities, it examines how religious conviction and racial
dynamics shape congregational benevolence.
Mississippi has long had the nation's
highest poverty rate and was the first state to implement a faith-based
welfare reform initiative. The book provides a grounded and even-handed
treatment of congregational poverty relief rather than abstract
theory on faith-based initiatives.
The volume examines how congregations
are coping with national developments in social welfare policy
and reveals the strategies that religious communities utilize
to fight poverty in their local communities.
By giving particular attention to the
influence of theological convictions and organizational dynamics
on religious service provision, it identifies both the prospects
and pitfalls likely to result from the expansion of charitable
About the Author John P. Bartkowski is
Associate Professor of Sociology at Mississippi State University.
He is the author of Remaking the Godly Marriage: Gender Negotiation
in Evangelical Families.
Helen Regis is Assistant Professor of
Anthropology, Louisiana State University. Her work on New Orleans
jazz funerals and second lines has appeared in American Ethnologist
and Cultural Anthropology.
[Editor's Note: This new book is available at the
Henry Madden Library at Fresno State, on the shelf at HV 530