Faith, Politics, and Power: The Politics of Faith-Based Initiatives

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Book Review

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During the past 10 years, faith-based initiatives have received increased public attention. The hope has been a new era of social support where private organizations take the lead in alleviating social problems. Faith, Politics, and Power argues that faith-based initiatives are primarily a symbolic commodity that results not in social solutions, but in an altered church/state relationship. Sager, focusing on the “disparity between practical and symbolic action” (viii), argues that the proof of the initiatives’ symbolic nature is that they are both a success and a failure. There is success in the creation of offices, positions, and public policy that have brought church and state closer together, redefining their relationship. However, the initiatives have failed in that they have not spurred the formation and distribution of new and more effective privately run social services.