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Faith Based Social Services/Charitable Choice

There is considerable interest in questions of Charitable Choice and the collaboration of faith-based groups with the government in delivering social services. We offer quite a few articles and research summaries on this topic. This page is an attempt to draw together all those items in one place, and provide a few additional links to excellent web sites on the topic. We do not intend this section to be an exhaustive treatment of the issue, rather a convenient way to examine the charitable choice resources contained on our site.

Research Reports



*Note:  Documents appearing with this symbol , are Adobe .pdf downloads.  If you do not have Adobe Acrobat reader, you may download it for free from their web site.

Research Reports:

Welfare, Faith-Based Ministries, and Charitable Choice 
Carl Dudley's report on his recent study of agencies and churches in Hartford, Connecticut.

Doing Good in American Communities:  Congregations and Service Organizations Working Together
A research report written by Nancy T. Ammerman from the Organizing Religious Work project.

The Congregations, Communities and Leadership Development Project
Directed by Ronald J. Sider and Heidi Rolland Unruh

Other reports from this study:

How do churches reach out to their communities?

What is the "faith" in faith-based social services?

How do faith-based social services incorporate a religious dimension?

Perceptions of Religious meaning in faith-based social services

What is a church-based social ministry

Mississippi Church/State Partnerships 
in Social Service Delivery Study

This summary provides an overview of the project conducted by John Bartkowski which researched how congregations began offering social services to combat poverty in northeast Mississippi.

Other reports from this study:

Charitable Choice and the Feasibility of Faith-Based Welfare Reform in Mississippi

Congregations and Social Services: What They Do, How They Do It, and With Whom
A report by Mark Chaves and William Tsitsos, as part of the Nonprofit Sector Research Fund Working Paper Series (2001)


Charitable Choice
An article written by Carl Dudley for Christian Century and reprinted with permission, March 14, 2001.

How do congregations provide for the needy?
Our January 2001 quick question on relief strategies that congregations can provide written by John Bartkowski.

What are the most common forms of congregational community service?
Our March 2001 quick question on charitable choice written by Nancy T. Ammerman.

Partnerships with The Faith Community in Welfare Reform
by Jessica Yates, Welfare Information Network, March 1998

Can churches save the city? A look at resources (complicated issues surround urban church work)
Written by Arthur E. Farnsley for Christian Century, December 9, 1998.

Congregations' Social Services Activities
An article written by Mark Chaves, December 1999

Religious Congregations and Welfare Reform: Who Will Take Advantage of "Charitable Choice"?
An article written by Mark Chaves, Spring 1999

Our Hidden Safety Net:  Social and Community Work by American Religious Congregations
an article by Ram Cnaan

What's God Got To Do With The American Experiment an article by E.J. Dionne Jr., and John J. Dilulio, Jr.

"No Aid to Religion?" Charitable Choice and the First Amendment
An article by Ronald J. Sider and Heidi Rolland Unruh

Religious Elements of Faith-Based Social Service Programs:  Types and Integrative Strategies
A paper written by Heidi Rolland Unruh and Ronald J. Sider and presented at the annual meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, October 2001.

Saving Souls, Saving Society:  Exploring the Spiritual and Social Dynamics of Church-Based Community Activism
An article written by Heidi Rolland Unruh and Ronald J. Sider 

"No Aid to Religion?" Charitable Choice and the First Amendment
An article by Ronald J. Sider and Heidi Rolland Unruh

Philadelphia census of congregations and their involvement in social service delivery
A 2001 article by Ram Cnaan in Social Service Review

Black church outreach: Comparing how black and other congregations serve their needy neighbors
A 2001 study by Ram Cnaan, University of Pennsylvania.

Social and community involvement of religious congregations housed in historic religious properties: Findings from a six-city study
by Ram Cnaan, from a 1997 study at Program for the Study of Organized Religion and Social Work, University of Pennsylvania.
*note: this download is a Microsoft Word document


The Welfare Information Network web site has pages on faith-based involvement which are a very rich resource for papers, links and organizations dealing with Charitable Choice.

Faith Based Involvement
This page lies within the Welfare Information Network web site and provides links to research and policy analysis on Charitable Choice and faith-based involvement in social services. 

The Center for Public Justice: A Guide to Charitable Choice
Information on Section 104 of the 1996 Federal Welfare Law Governing State Cooperation with Faith-Based Social-Service Providers.  They also provide an extensive page of resources on the same topic.




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