Financing American Religion


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Financing Historic Black Churches. The Meaning of Religious Giving. The Crisis in the Churches. Financing Catholic Elementary Schools. Financing Protestant Theological Schools. Religious Nonprofits in California. Small Religious Nonprofits in Illinois. Philanthropic Institutions and the Small Religious Nonprofit. Naturally, religious organizations are not a new invention; throughout history, Catholic hospitals, Islamic foundations and Buddhist monasteries, among many others, have provided aid to the poor.

Third, the failures of the structural adjustment programmes in the s and s prompted a surge of criticism from NGOs, grassroots movements and religious organizations, accusing the World Bank and other major actors for promoting a narrow economic conception of development. These, as well as other, trends and events have prompted a reconceptualisation of aid discourses and practices, encompassing, among other things, a greater recognition of religion and religious organizations as important and indispensable factors in development and humanitarian aid.

As noted above, the increasing interest in the role of religion in development and humanitarian aid has shown in the establishment of various initiatives to strengthen cooperation with religious organizations, including e. Parallel to such practitioner-oriented initiatives, among scholars studying development and humanitarian aid a new strand of research is emerging, focusing on religious organizations and their role in processes of development and humanitarian aid. Based on selected case studies, scholars argue that religious organizations can — and should — play a vital role in development and humanitarian aid, presenting alternative visions of solidarity, justice and social change and guaranteeing a more holistic, people-centered kind of development than the kind promoted by dominant neo-liberal approaches.

Scholars in this vein typically focus on the elaboration of theoretical frameworks for approaching religious organizations; [14] typologies for classifying religious NGOs; [15] or discussions of the in compatibility between religious theologies and theories of development and humanitarian aid. The majority of these studies are anthropological analyses of organizations involved in development and humanitarian aid, exploring the role of religion in organizational discourses, practices and structures. Thus, religious organizations have become the object of a burgeoning literature, shedding light on a variety of different topics related to religious organizations and their involvement in development and humanitarian aid activities.

However, there are still large gaps in this literature. Most importantly, research tends to focus on individual religious organizations and their involvement in processes of development and humanitarian aid — whether as selective evidence to support normative claims of the superiority of religious organizations, as anecdotal illustrations to theoretical frameworks on religion and development, or in a few cases as anthropological and sociological case studies. There is very little knowledge about the religious organizations as a group: What distinguishes them from other organizations?

What characterises them as a group? And does it even make sense to consider them as a group?

Financing American Religion | Insights into Religion

These questions lie at the heart of the study of religious organizations, providing the foundation upon which this field of inquiry rests. Thus, there is a need for more systematic, broad-based surveys of religious NGOs, providing empirical data and giving an overview of the field of religious organizations. The present article attempts to contribute to filling this gap in the existing literature by providing a survey of a particular kind of religious organizations, namely international NGOs engaged in development and humanitarian aid.

Based on systematic investigations of a large number of international religious NGOs, the analysis explores different dimensions of this group of organizations, asking questions such as: Who are these organizations? What are their goals?

How do they organise? What do they do?

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Who do they cooperate with? And, most importantly, what role does their religious identity play in this? According to the Union of International Associations, there are approx. Consultative status grants the organizations the possibility to participate in a range of UN meetings and conferences as well as to publish written and in some cases oral statements during these meetings and conferences, thus functioning as a way for organizations to gain influence at the UN.

It is this group of organizations that make up the object of study of the present analysis. The fact that they have been granted consultative status at ECOSOC means that these organizations are in one way or another engaged in activities related to development and humanitarian aid, and as such can be considered international development and humanitarian NGOs. Furthermore, as a major actor in international development and humanitarian aid, the UN must be assumed to attract a broad range of development NGOs, thus ensuring some degree of scope and variation in the analysis.

However, this choice of focus naturally presents some limitations. Some NGOs chose not to work with the UN for ideological reasons, while others simply do not have the economic or human resources required to apply for consultative status and actively participate in the activities of ECOSOC. There is, in other words, a risk that UN-critical and resource-less NGOs are excluded from the analysis. The analysis of the religious NGOs with consultative status at ECOSOC should therefore not be seen as a general analysis of all religious NGOs involved in international development, representative of the entire field, but rather as an analysis of a specific albeit rather large sub-group of religious NGOs within the group of international religious NGOs.


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Unlike many other approaches to the analysis of NGOs, the model reflects a multidimensional understanding of NGOs, simultaneously emphasising substance and function, internal self-understanding and external descriptions, organization and context. The model divides the analysis into four parts, each shedding light on different dimensions of the organization. The purpose of this part of the analysis is to understand which goals the NGO has, what motivates the organization to pursue these goals and how it plans to achieve them — in other words, how the NGO understands its own function.

The organization dimension , on the other hand, focuses on the substantial characteristics of the NGO, including aspects such as age, size and origin. Based on both external and internal descriptions, the analysis explores the positioning of the NGO in relation to other actors, including the state, market institutions and other actors in civil society, thus shifting focus from the organization itself to the context in which it works.

Due to lack of access, however, the analysis will not include systematic considerations as to the financial aspect of the organizations. Rather than minutely repeating all findings of this study, the present analysis is an attempt at sketching selected tendencies and characteristics within the group and proposing directions for future research. Whereas the latter requires more qualitative considerations throughout the whole analysis, the former can be answered through quantitative, factual investigations.

Building on organizational self-understanding, the analysis defines religious NGOs as NGOs that describe and understand themselves as religious, referring in their name, activities, mission statements or elsewhere to religious traditions, values and ideas. As noted above, the orientation dimension refers to aspects such as the goals, work areas, motivation and methods of the organizations, describing the ways in which they understand their own purpose and function. For most of the religious NGOs, religion plays an important role as motivating factor, often expressed in their mission statements, outlining the overall purpose of the NGOs and describing the underlying values and principles.

Religious discourses have, through the articulation of absolute moral structures and a positioning of the NGO within these structures, a great potential for functioning precisely as a motivating factor for collective actors. This religiously grounded motivation does not necessarily result in religiously defined fields of work or goals.

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The United Methodist Church, for instance, argues for the establishment of an international criminal court from a religiously based conception of justice. The church explains its participation in such activities through a biblical motivation, as expressed in a resolution formulated by the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society: As organizations involved in issues of social and economic development, most of the religious NGOs formulate their goals within fields of work such as environmental protection, social justice, humanitarian aid, education and culture.

For the sake of argument we might therefore, although somewhat simplistically, divide the goals and fields of work of the religious NGOs into two, namely secular and religious. That environmental protection, social justice, humanitarian aid, education, culture and similar fields of work are characterised as secular does not mean that one cannot take a religious approach to working in these fields, but merely that they are not in and of themselves necessarily religious.

Among the religious NGOs, the largest group of NGOs 47 per cent focuses solely on secular fields of work and goals, while few almost 14 per cent focus solely on religious promotion. A substantial number of organizations almost 39 per cent , however, focuses on both secular fields and goals and on religious promotion see table below. For others, religious and secular goals are not mutually excluding, but closely connected.

Thus, the promotion of Buddhist values and ideas may for some NGOs be intimately related to working for environmental changes, just like the building of mosques for others simultaneously serves to strengthen local community and spread the message of Islam. Within the group of NGOs focusing simultaneously on religious promotion and secular fields of work and goals, Christian organizations are slightly overrepresented 75 per cent , while they are underrepresented in the group of organizations solely focusing on religious promotion 50 per cent.

In this group, on the other hand, the spiritual organizations are slightly overrepresented 10 per cent , thus reflecting a tendency among these organizations to focus on otherworldly issues.

Financing American Religion

Just like the goals and fields of work, the concrete methods that religious NGOs use to achieve these goals can be divided into secular and religious; secular methods referring here to methods such as implementation of projects, research, conferences, lobbying, and advocacy, and religious methods to prayer, mission, religious education and theological studies.

Again, it is important to underline that secular methods can be used to obtain religious goals, just like religious methods can be used to obtain secular goals. Thus, the distinction does not refer to the ultimate purpose of these methods, but merely to their design. On an overall level, there seems to be no difference between NGOs from different religious affiliations — it is, for instance, not possible to distinguish between the methods used by Christian NGOs and the methods used by Muslim NGOs.

Two-thirds of the organizations do not make use of religious methods at all. The majority of these are organizations that do not focus on religious goals or fields of work, e. Among the organizations that focus on both religious and secular goals and fields of work, however, a relatively large part of the NGOs use religious methods. It is hardly a surprise that organizations focused on religious promotion would use religious methods to further this goal. But there are also some organizations that use religious methods to achieve secularly formulated goals.

One of the prayers sounded like this:. Let us pray for rulers and heads of governments and of all international organizations, that they might strive ever more for a worldwide solidarity which assures the dignity due to people and peoples, attacking the very roots of injustice and suffering; and that they might implement effective measures to lighten the crushing debt of poorer nations.

The prayer is here seen as a legitimate method for achieving a secularly formulated goal — a good example of how religious NGOs do not necessarily see any contrast between religious methods and non-religious goals. While the orientation dimension focused on the functional aspects of the NGOs, the organization dimension turns on their substantial characteristics, based on factual, external descriptions and including aspects such as age, size and origin.

Introduced in the s, the NGO concept as such is relatively young, and many therefore assume that the organizations it refers to are also young. And for non-religious NGOs this might in fact be true. Scholte points to the fact that less than 10 per cent of international organizations are established before Almost 50 per cent of the religious NGOs are established before , the majority of these 25 per cent in the period between and Regardless of whether the taxpayer expresses a preference or not, the 0.

If the choice is not expressly declared on the tax form, the tax is distributed according to the percentages of the taxpayers who have declared their choice of beneficiary. While it was intended that the state should use its own share of the 0. Church and state are separated as of ; however, the burial tax begravningsavgift is paid by everyone regardless of membership.

In a recent [ when? But now the fee will be an optional checkoff box on the tax return. The government will allocate the money collected to Catholic, Muslim, Jewish and other faiths as well as the Lutherans, with each taxpayer directing where his or her taxes should go.


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  4. There is no official state church in Switzerland. However, all the 26 cantons states financially support at least one of the three traditional denominations — Roman Catholic , Old Catholic in Switzerland Christ Catholic , or Evangelical Reformed — with funds collected through taxation.

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    Each canton church tax may formally have to leave the church. In some cantons private companies are unable to avoid payment of the church tax. In the United States, the Establishment Clause of the US Constitution prevents the US federal government and through incorporation doctrine [15] the 50 state governments from imposing church taxes. Board of Education that "No tax in any amount, large or small, can be levied to support any religious activities or institutions, whatever they may be called, or whatever form they may adopt to teach or practice religion.

    In the past, some states established state religions and imposed church taxes to provide financial support; indeed, after the ratification of the Bill of Rights , the Establishment Clause protected these state churches from interference by the US Congress. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. The examples and perspective in this article deal primarily with Europe and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject.

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    November Learn how and when to remove this template message. Desai Dhammika Dharmapala James R. Retrieved 3 May " in Italian. Swiss national tax office in German. Retrieved 30 November Retrieved July 3, University Press of New England. Retrieved from " https: Christianity and government Personal taxes Religious taxation Catholic Church and finance.

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