In recent years, America has found inspiration from European religious ideas about government and society to help it achieve welfare reform and end poverty. A new model of church-state relations in social welfare provision, similar to what is known in Europe as “Christian Democracy,” is increasingly well-established in constitutional law, federal and state legislation, new rules and principles of public administration, and many government contracting regimes. This book explores the legal and political developments behind this distinctive transformation of American welfare governance, the religious and political ideas that shaped it, and what a new era of “faith-based initiatives”—as the model came to be known under its first White House sponsor, George W. Bush—can and should mean for impoverished communities and destitute families and children across America. It discusses the Catholic and Dutch Calvinist theories of the limited state that shaped the design and implementation of the faith-based initiative, focusing on the Catholic concept of subsidiarity and the concept of sphere sovereignty. The book concludes by “reframing” the debate on faith-based social policy.
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