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The Theology of Welfare

Protestants, Catholics, & Jews in Conversation about WelfareJohn G. West

While government is increasingly turning to faith-based charities in an effort to make America’s welfare system more effective, the religious community remains sharply divided over what kind of faith-based welfare programs are best and the extent to which government should even support faith-based initiatives. The Theology of Welfare explores the theological basis for competing visions of welfare in the religious community by bringing together nationally recognized thinkers representing politically diverse strands of thought in Judaism, Catholicism, mainline Protestantism and evangelical Protestantism.

The conversations between these important figures in contemporary religious thought form the basis for each of the book’s chapters. In contrast to previous works, this book focuses less on the details of policy than on the theological beliefs that give rise to specific welfare proposals. In the process, the contributors clarify how differences in theological tradition are connected to variation in welfare policy. Aimed at promoting an understanding that is critical for successful charity, this work provides refreshing alternatives to materialistic welfare policies that ignore spiritual needs.


Reading The Theology of Welfare is like sitting in on an animated discussion of welfare reform, faith-based social services, and church-state relationship, and noting subtle and substantive theological differences separating devout believers on matters of faith and public policy.

Matthew SchobertFamily Ministry

The strength of The Theology of Welfare is its distillation, in conversational form, of some of the basic religious perspectives in the current debates over welfare, poverty , and government intervention. Charitable choice and the faith-based initiative involve issues that will be a part of public discourse for some time. The Theology of Welfare is a useful overview and introduction to that discourse.

Paul MastinJournal Of Church And State

John G. West

Senior Fellow, Managing Director, and Vice President of Discovery Institute
Dr. John G. West is Vice President of the Seattle-based Discovery Institute and Managing Director of the Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. Formerly the Chair of the Department of Political Science and Geography at Seattle Pacific University, West is an award-winning author and documentary filmmaker who has written or edited 12 books, including Darwin Day in America: How Our Politics and Culture Have Been Dehumanized in the Name of Science, The Magician’s Twin: C. S. Lewis on Science, Scientism, and Society, and Walt Disney and Live Action: The Disney Studio’s Live-Action Features of the 1950s and 60s. His documentary films include Fire-Maker, Revolutionary, The War on Humans, and (most recently) Human Zoos. West holds a PhD in Government from Claremont Graduate University, and he has been interviewed by media outlets such as CNN, Fox News, Reuters, Time magazine, The New York Times, USA Today, and The Washington Post.