In Saturday’s New York Times, Peter Steinfels discusses a new report, issued by the Roundtable on Religion & Social Welfare Policy, on the successes, failures, and future of the “Faith-Based Initiative”:

“Taking Stock” points to a handful of case studies showing religious providers to have had better results than government or secular nonprofit providers. Given the report’s generally cautious, even skeptical tone, the examples are notable. But as the report emphasizes, those studies remain far from truly rigorous empirical research. The discussion remains mired in the kind of anecdotal evidence that warms the hearts of proponents but leaves plenty of room for dismissal by the doubters.


Now “Taking Stock” suggests that the Obama effort, besides punting the tough question of hiring over to the Justice Department, will use its machinery not just to help religious groups providing social services to qualify for government financing but also to get religious perspectives on policies for economic recovery, strengthening fatherhood and families, reducing abortions and improving interfaith relations.

Read the full article here.