Religion and how it is applied to social problems is attracting widespread attention as well as foundation funds.
As reported in the Los Angeles Times (Oct. 8), applied religion is “a hot field of inquiry,” though it was considered dying if not dead by academic specialists until recently. The interest is found in three general areas. Major foundations such as Ford, Pew and Lilly are sharply increasing their funding for studies of how religion is affecting poverty, literacy, cultural assimilation and family life.
Study centers at such schools as the University of Southern California, University of Pennsylvania and the Manhattan Institute are drawing from the foundations and other sources to start extensive research programs. The interest in ‘faith-based’ social activism and its relation to public social service agencies continues to grow. Too new an area for conclusive evaluations, its work with local and state agencies has become a national priority for candidates for public office including Al Gore and George W. Bush.
— By RW contributing editor Erling Jorstad