New Understandings, New Questions, New Opportunities
Research on the “faith factor” in solving social problems should take into account the complexity of the religious dynamics of social action. More nuanced understandings of the role of religion in public life are needed for accurate assessments of the risks and rewards of faith-based initiatives—shifting the focus from whether to how government should partner with faith-based social services. Well-crafted public policy can expand the civic contributions of religious groups with a public mission to serve society. As some Christians emphasize social service as a vehicle for evangelism, it is important to learn whether conversionist, socially engaged churches represent a growing movement. The “both-and” paradigm of a holistic mission orientation bridges the conservative-liberal dualism that has long characterized American Protestantism.
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