The Changing Role of Religious Community in Social Service

Project Number: 
Start Date: 
Sat, 02/01/1997
End Date: 
Thu, 12/31/1998

Robert Wineburg of the University of North Carolina, Greensboro examined the relationship between religion, social service, and public policy with the sole aim of writing a book on this topic. Wineburg claimed that while religious organizations and congregations have been active in providing voluntary social service since the founding of the nation, their contribution has not received much scholarly examination. Wineburg focused on the role played by religious communities in Greensboro, North Carolina particularly after the initiative for devolution began during the Reagan era. Devolution here refers to the shifting of federal role in social service funding and delivery to local government and social service organizations.
Wineburg asserted that religious organizations do not have the systems and the managerial capacity to completely replace the welfare bureaucracy; instead, he proposed “limited partnerships” that would involve government agencies and religious communities together in the service of the needy. Wineburg arrived at his conclusions on the basis of his engagement and research in this field for the past twelve years. Wineburg published his findings in the book titled, “A Limited Partnership: The Politics of Religion, Welfare, and Social Service,” (Columbia University Press, 2000).