A guide to experts on religion and poverty

Updated May 11, 2015

Though the U.S. is no longer in a recession, poverty is gaining a higher profile  — and so is religion’s role in combating it. Though unemployment rates have steadily fallen, more than 45.3 million Americans live under the poverty line, as of 2013. More than 14 percent of the population is recognized by the government as living in poverty, and many more struggle to meet daily needs. And concern is growing not only for the people living in poverty, but also for those who could soon swell their ranks. Layoffs, home foreclosures, higher costs for food and medical care — all are combining to plunge more people into poverty, or make them aware that they could be next.

Religious leaders, organizations and individuals are mobilizing in new and sometimes more forceful ways, demanding changes in public policy and flexing their muscle as the leading nongovernment provider of food and shelter for the needy.

Background

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of 2013, 14.5 percent of all Americans live in poverty. That number was 13.2 percent when President Obama took office in 2008. Census data also shows that more than one in five children live in poverty (as of 2011) and though a majority of the poor are white, poverty disproportionately affects blacks, Latinos and American Indians.

Awareness is also growing of the public costs and consequences of poverty. For example, research by Harry Holzer and colleagues in 2007 estimated that because of lower productivity, higher health-related costs and increased crime costs, it costs the national economy $500 billion a year — about 4 percent of the gross domestic product — to have children growing up in persistent poverty.

A May 2013 Gallup poll found that 65 percent of Americans rated reducing poverty and inequality as a top priority or high priority for Congress and the Obama administration.

Religion's role

More religious organizations are urging lawmakers to put in place a plan to cut domestic poverty in half in 10 years, and othey are offering specific policy proposals.

Fighting poverty, once an issue pushed in the public square mainly by religious liberals, is also being embraced by conservatives. In some cases, conservative and liberal religious leaders and organizations are joining forces, agreeing that their faith demands that they work to help the poor and devising policies they can both support; see the Poverty Forum as a recent high-profile example.

While religious people across the political spectrum agree that Scripture clearly urges care and compassion for the poor, there are complex and sometimes fierce debates — particularly among Christians and Jews across the conservative-liberal divide — about how best to do that. Tensions remain over how best to address poverty — what actually works and what the responsibility of people of faith, or the government, is. Some debates focus on the moral responsibility of the haves toward the have-nots; others on the moral responsibility of those who are poor. (Many media outlets have compared the differing interpretations of Scripture addressing women’s roles, homosexuality or the environment; the same treatment may work well for poverty.)

There is an appreciation among policymakers for religion’s role in providing social services and supporting those in poverty. President Barack Obama has continued his predecessor’s faith-based programs, for example.

Religious groups are actively cultivating leaders among their youth to work on public issues such as poverty, and organizations of youth are engaging members in fighting poverty.

News articles and research

Read “Why are the Poor More Religious,” an analysis of New York Times data on poverty by Merrill Miller in the Aug. 27, 2014 issue of The Humanist magazine.

Read, “Poverty is a Moral Problem,” an interview with sociologist William Easterly published in Christianity Today on April 20, 2014. Easterly, an economist, says Christian leaders like Rick Warren suffer from “moral blindness” in some of their work.

Read “Francis’s humility and emphasis on the poor strike a new tone at the Vatican,” by Rachel Donadio in the New York Times, May 25, 2013.

Feed America, an umbrella organization of food banks, maintains a hunger and poverty “fact sheet” about different populations in the U.S. drawn largely from the most recent U.S. Census data.

Read “Income and Poverty in the United States: 2013,” the most recent report available from the U.S. Census Bureau

Watch “Poor Kids,” a 2012 “Frontline” documentary about poverty rates among children in the U.S. that aired on PBS.

Read “How Religion Contributes to Wealth and Poverty,” an essay by Lisa A. Keister, a professor of sociology at Duke University, as published on the Huffington Post, Nov. 2, 2011.

International sources

  • Oxfam International

    Oxfam International is a confederation of 17 different organizations that work in 90 countries to reduce poverty worldwide. They work in the political arena, in emergency relief and in grassroots community development projects.

  • ONE International

    ONE International is an international grassroots organization that aims to reduce poverty and preventable disease in Africa and globally. Contact U.S. media manager Ian Koski.

  • Heifer Project International

    Heifer Project International offers hungry families around the world a way to feed themselves and become self-reliant.

  • Islamic Relief Worldwide

    Islamic Relief Worldwide based in Birmingham, U.K., provided aid to Darfur. Its U.S. branch is based in Buena Vista, Calif.

    The U.S. branch has added domestic programs that support those in poverty to its primary function of fundraising. They include an annual Day of Dignity, in which Muslims in 20 cities nationally feed and provide services to the homeless.

National sources

Religious organizations

  • Catholic Charities USA

    Catholic Charities USA works in various areas such as adoption counseling, disaster relief, poverty awareness, and raising awareness of social issues such as human trafficking, and racial inequality It works to provide aid to people in need and to activate the Catholic population to action.

  • Christian Churches Together

    Christian Churches Together is a large national ecumenical organization that includes evangelical, Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Pentecostal, historic Protestant, racial and ethnic churches. Contact executive administrator Yai Malave in Louisville or Rev. Carlos Malave, the executive director.

  • The Christian Community Development Association

    The Christian Community Development Association, the largest Christian community development group in the country, works to reduce poverty. It’s based in Chicago. Contact interim CEO Ava Steaffens.

  • Evangelicals for Social Action

    Evangelicals for Social Action is a Christian organization that works on social concerns from an evangelical Christian perspective. Contact through president and founder, Ron Sider.

  • National Council of Churches

    The National Council of Churches is an association of Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, evangelical, historic African-American and Living Peace churches that represents more than 30 denominations and 45 million people. It is active in economic justice issues.

     

  • The Poverty Forum

    The Poverty Forum, formed in 2008, is “a select group of leaders and policy experts representing divergent political perspectives but sharing biblical values surrounding God’s concern for the poor and a commitment to address poverty.” It has 18 participants and posts its specific policy proposals. It is led by co-chairs Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners, and Mike Gerson, Roger Hertog Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. Contact through Jason Gedeik of Sojourners.

  • The Poverty Initiative

    The Poverty Initiative is based at Union Theological Seminary in New York City and was established in May 2003. Its goal is to “to raise up generations of religious and community leaders dedicated to building a social movement to end poverty, led by the poor,” and it brings together scholars and grass-roots organizations. Contact the coordinator of the Poverty Initiative Liz Theoharis.

  • Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

    The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the advocacy arm of the Union for Reform Judaism. Rabbi David Saperstein is its director and counsel.

  • The Salvation Army

    The Salvation Army is an international Christian humanitarian organization that works with many at-risk communities. The media contact is Kurt Watkins.

  • Sojourners

    Sojourners magazine is a progressive evangelical magazine in Washington, D.C. Its commitment is to faith in action for social justice. Jim Wallis is CEO and editor in chief of Sojourners.

  • Resources for American Christianity

    Resources for American Christianity is a website funded by the Lilly Endowment that “seeks to assist leaders and participants in Christian communities, scholars and other interested publics in better understanding the impact, trends and trajectories of Christianity in American society.” Under the “Economics” category, the site has a series of excellent studies, papers and experts. They are under sub-headings that include: Church Finances, Giving, Materialism, Stewardship, Wealth and Work.

  • Bible League

    Bible League is an organization designed to train and equip faith leaders and ministries with the tools and resources they need to provide communities with a religious education and understanding of the Christian faith.

  • OpenDoor Housing Fund

    Jerry Konohia is CEO of the OpenDoor Housing Fund, which provides financing for affordable housing to nonprofit and for-profit developers and tenant associations in the Washington, D.C., area. It was created in July 2007 through the merger of the Washington Area Housing Trust Fund and the Unitarian Universalist Affordable Housing Corp. It has a subfund for faith-based developers.

  • Association of Gospel Rescue Missions

    Association of Gospel Rescue Missions (AGRM) is an organization with 290 member rescue missions that provide 35 million meals, over 13 million nights of lodging, and 25 million articles of clothing to the needy each year.

  • World Vision

    World Vision is a Christian relief and development agency working on poverty reduction worldwide. World Vision president Richard Stearns’ book The Hole in Our Gospel won the 2010 Christian Book of the Year award. One focus of its work is sustainable development, including microfinance — it opened a microlending website this spring and has already attracted $385,000 and made more than 1,250 loans — and women’s and girls’ issues.

  • National Association of Evangelicals

    The National Association of Evangelicals is an organization that includes 45,000 congregations from 40 member denominations, individual congregations from an additional 27 denominations, and 250 parachurch ministries and educational institutions. Its mission is to gather, strengthen and expand the evangelical community. Galen Carey is vice president for government relations.

    The association sponsors World Relief, a non-profit that works to reduce poverty, among other causes.

    Contact: 202-789-1011.
  • Islamic Society of North America

    The Islamic Society of North America promotes unity and leadership among Muslims. The organization, based in Plainfield, Ind., has a large immigrant presence. Contact executive director Ahmed Elhattab.

    The society has multiple programs, both global and domestic, that work to reduce poverty and hunger.

  • Christian Churches Together

    Christian Churches Together is a large national ecumenical organization that includes evangelical, Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Pentecostal, historic Protestant, racial and ethnic churches. Contact executive administrator Yai Malave in Louisville or Rev. Carlos Malave, the executive director.

    The group has a domestic poverty initiative. Its plan, announced in early 2009, includes specific policies designed to cut poverty in half in 10 years. Leaders met with members of Congress in early 2009.

  • Jewish Council for Public Affairs

    The Jewish Council for Public Affairs (formerly the American Jewish Public Affairs Committee), based in New York with offices in Washington, represents the organized American Jewish community, particularly in protecting the rights of Jews everywhere and in supporting a just and pluralistic American democracy. Ask Senior Vice President Martin Raffel how to reach representatives in the local chapters.

    The council has an anti-poverty campaign. Its executive director, Rabbi Steve Gutow, co-wrote a commentary on American Jews’ responsibility toward the poor.

Research centers

Nonprofits

Think tanks

  • Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty

    The Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty promotes a free and virtuous society characterized by individual liberty and sustained by religious principles. The institute is ecumenical and defines itself as conservative. It is based in Grand Rapids, Mich. The Rev. Robert A. Sirico is president. Contact John Couretas, director of communications.

     

     

  • The Annie E. Casey Foundation

    The Annie E. Casey Foundation is a private charitable organization, dedicated to helping build better futures for disadvantaged children in the United States. Contact senior communications manager Beau Boughamer.

  • Heritage Foundation

    The Heritage Foundation is a nonprofit think tank devoted to conservative public policies. Stuart Butler is director of the Center for Policy Innovation.

    Contact: 202-675-1761.
  • The Urban Institute

    The Urban Institute in Washington, D.C., does considerable research on poverty and welfare. Its staff includes nearly 20 experts on various aspects of these issues; see a list.

  • The Center for American Progress

    The Center for American Progress is a nonpartisan institute that promotes freedom and justice in a wide variety of issues. Daniella Gibbs Leger is the senior VP of communications and strategy.

    The center has programs that focus on poverty and mobility. In 2007 it published a report that outlines a strategy to cut national poverty in half. Staff experts include senior fellow Mark GreenbergJoy Moses, policy analyst with the Poverty & Prosperity program; and Louis Soares, director of the Economic Mobility Program. Contact information is listed on their Web pages.

Government

  • White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships

    The website of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships includes information on grants as well as upcoming regional conferences and targeted workshops aimed at helping organizations apply for grants.

  • Antonio Villaraigosa

    Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, which issued a statement April 12, 2012, decrying the House Agriculture Committee’s vote to cut $33 billion from food stamps. “If there’s a more misguided, mean-spirited and counterproductive way to address decades of deficits in this country, the Mayors of the United States can’t think of one,” the statement says.

  • Rebecca M. Blank

    Rebecca M. Blank is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, specializing in economics and social policy. She is a past dean of the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan and former co-director of the National Poverty Center. Blank is co-author of Is the Market Moral?: A Dialogue on Religion, Economics & Justice. Contact through the Brookings communications office.

    Contact: 202-797-6105.

Academics

  • J. Lawrence Aber

    J. Lawrence Aber is professor of applied psychology and public policy at New York University in New York City. He is an expert on child development and social policy who researches the effect of poverty and violence on children. He is also former director of the National Center for Children in Poverty.

  • Randy Albelda

    Randy Albelda, professor of economics and senior research fellow at the University of Massachusetts’ Center for Social Policy, is an expert on poverty, particularly regarding families and women.

  • Mary Jo Bane

    Mary Jo Bane is Thornton Bradshaw Professor of Public Policy and Management at Harvard University and co-coordinator of the Program on Religion and Public Life.  She is co-author of Lifting Up the Poor: A Dialogue on Religion, Poverty & Welfare Reform. A former assistant secretary for children and families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, her work focuses on poverty, welfare, families and the role of churches in civic life.

  • Harlan Beckley

    Harlan Beckley is director of the Shepherd Program for the Interdisciplinary Study of Poverty and Human Capability at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va. He edited the book Economic Justice: Selections from Distributive Justice and a Living Wage (Westminster John Knox Press, 1996).

  • Miguel A. De La Torre

    Miguel A. De La Torre teaches social ethics at Iliff School of Theology in Denver, where he directs the school’s Justice and Peace Institute. Issues he can discuss include religion’s effects on class/race/gender oppression, Santeria, Cuba and liberation theology. His numerous books include, as co-editor, Rethinking Latino(a) Religion and Identity (Pilgrim Press, 2006) and Handbook of Latina/o Theologies (Chalice Press, 2006).

  • David Ellwood

    David Ellwood, Scott M. Black Professor of Political Economy at Harvard University and dean of the John F. Kennedy School of Government, is a noted expert on poverty and welfare. He is an author who co-chaired President Clinton’s Working Group on Welfare Reform, Family Support and Independence.

  • Susan Pace Hamill

    Susan Pace Hamill is a professor at the University of Alabama School of Law who specializes in tax law, business organizations and ethics. She is an advocate for Bible-based tax reform guided by the moral principles of Judeo-Christian ethics.

  • Dwight N. Hopkins

    Dwight N. Hopkins, University of Chicago theology professor, has written about black theology of liberation, and also about gun control. Black liberation theology, he says, is aligning more closely with black churches and developing partnerships with liberation theologians in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America and the Pacific Islands. 


  • Guian McKee

    Guian McKee is an associate professor at the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia whose expertise includes poverty and civil rights. He is the author of The Problem of Jobs: Liberalism, Race and Deindustrialization in Philadelphia (2008) — which features a War on Poverty-funded job training program that developed out of an African-American church in Philadelphia — and Lyndon Johnson and the War on Poverty: How Policymakers Try to Deliver on Social Promises.

  • Lawrence M. Mead

    Lawrence M. Mead, a politics professor, teaches courses about welfare reform, politics and public policy at New York University. He co-authored Lifting Up the Poor: A Dialogue on Religion, Poverty & Welfare Reform.

  • Stephen Pimpare

    Stephen Pimpare is a professor of american politics and public policy for the politics & society program and social work department at the University of New Hampshire. He is the author of A People’s History of Poverty in America (2008) and The New Victorians: Poverty, Politics and Propaganda in Two Gilded Ages. He is working on a book titled A Celluloid Poorhouse: Poverty in American Film.

  • Anthony B. Pinn

    Anthony B. Pinn is a professor of humanities and religious studies at Rice University in Houston. He has been critical of the prosperity gospel preached in some black megachurches for its lack of emphasis on community service and charity. He is the author of Why, Lord?: Suffering and Evil in Black Theology and editor of Redemptive Suffering: a History of Theodicy in African-American Religious Thought. He also studies African-American religious humanism and is the author of African American Humanist Principles: Living and Thinking Like the Children of Nimrod (2004) and By These Hands: A Documentary History of African American Humanism (2001).

  • Frances Fox Piven

    Frances Fox Piven, Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Political Science at the City University of New York, is an expert on U.S. poverty and welfare policy and the author of several books.

  • Mark R. Rank

    Mark R. Rank is a professor of social welfare at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis. He is the author of One Nation, Underprivileged: Why American Poverty Affects Us All (Oxford University Press, 2004). His focus is on poverty, social welfare and economic inequalities.

  • Jeffrey Sachs

    Jeffrey Sachs is one of the foremost experts on the economics of poverty. He is director of the Earth Institute, Quetelet Professor of Sustainable Development and professor of health policy and management at Columbia University. He is also special adviser to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. From 2002-06, Sachs was director of the U.N. Millennium Project and special adviser to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the Millennium Development Goals, the internationally agreed goals to reduce extreme poverty, disease and hunger by 2015. Sachs is also president and co-founder of Millennium Promise, a nonprofit organization aimed at ending extreme global poverty. He is the author of Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet (2008) and The End of Poverty. Contact through Kyu-Young Lee at the Earth Institute.

  • Manuel A. Vásquez

    Manuel A. Vásquez is an associate professor of religion at the University of Florida and an expert on immigration, especially Latino immigration. He was an editor of the volume Immigrant Faiths: Transforming Religious Life in America. 

Authors

  • Jason DeParle

    Jason DeParle is a senior writer at The New York Times and the author of American Dream: Three Women, Ten Kids and a Nation’s Drive to End Welfare.

  • Paul Polak

    Paul Polak is founder of Colorado-based nonprofit International Development Enterprises and author of Out of Poverty: What Works When Traditional Approaches Fail (2008). Contact through Carrie Barnes at ELISE Communications.

  • David K. Shipler

    David K. Shipler is the author of The Working Poor: Invisible in America. A journalist, he has been a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution and a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He has taught at Princeton University, American University in Washington, D.C., and Dartmouth College. He lives in Chevy Chase, Md. Contact through Random House publicity.

    Contact: 212-572-2301.

Regional sources

In the Northeast

  • Aviva Luz Argote

    Aviva Luz Argote is executive director of the Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass.

  • Stephen Wizner

    Stephen Wizner is William O. Douglas Clinical Professor of Law and Supervising Attorney at Yale Law School in New Haven, Conn. One of his areas of expertise is poverty law, and he has participated in conferences on law and religion.

  • Arm in Arm

    Arm in Arm, the Crisis Ministry of Princeton and Trenton, N.J., sponsors “Community Action Poverty Simulations,” in which people of different faiths learn what it is like to live in poverty. The organization targets hunger, homelessness and poverty with a variety of programs.

  • Lisa Sharon Harper

    Lisa Sharon Harper is co-founder of New York Faith & Justice, a network of churches, organizations and individuals that work to end poverty and poverty-related violence in New York City.

  • John Iceland

    John Iceland is professor of sociology and demography at Penn State University. He is the author of Poverty in America: A Handbook and has authored numerous papers and reports on poverty patterns, causes and measurement.

  • NETWORK

    NETWORK is a national Catholic social justice organization that promotes economic justice at the federal level. Sister Simone Campbell is executive director. You can also email specific staff members through the website.

  • The Progressive Interfaith Alliance

    The Progressive Interfaith Alliance formed in Delaware in 2009 to focus on finding ways to ease poverty in its area. It now works on a variety of social justice issues. Contact the Rev. Michael Smith of the Unitarian Universalists of Southern Delaware in Lewes.

  • Ezra Rosser

    Ezra Rosser is assistant professor at the Washington College of Law at American University in Washington, D.C., where he teaches a course on law and poverty. He co-edits and writes the Poverty Law.

  • Bradley R. Schiller

    Bradley R. Schiller is professor emeritus in the School of Public Affairs at American University in Washington, D.C. His book The Economics of Poverty and Discrimination has been a standard teaching text for two decades.

  • Alexie Torres-Fleming

    Alexie Torres-Fleming is founder and executive director of Youth Ministries for Peace & Justice, which rebuilds neighborhoods by developing leaders among youth to work on community issues, including poverty. It’s based in the Bronx, N.Y. She spoke at the 2009 Mobilization to End Poverty event in Washington, D.C.

In the South

  • The Interfaith Federation of Greater Baton Rouge

    The Interfaith Federation of Greater Baton Rouge includes Muslims, Jews, Christians, Buddhists and Hindus. The federation works to promote social justice while working together as different faiths. The Rev. Clint Mitchell is president.

    Contact: 225-267-5600.
  • Helen A. Regis

    Helen A. Regis is assistant professor of geography and anthropology at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. She co-wrote the book Charitable Choices: Religion, Race, and Poverty in the Post-Welfare Era (New York University Press, 2003).

  • Kristina Scott

    Kristina Scott is executive director of the Alabama Poverty Project, which builds coalitions among religious, business and higher education organizations to work toward eliminating poverty. The project is based in Birmingham.

    Contact: 205-939-1408.
  • Doug Ammar

    Doug Ammar is executive director of the Georgia Justice Project, which helps poor people accused of crimes rebuild their lives, whether or not they are convicted. Ammar has been part of several symposiums and initiatives on religion and law.

    Contact: 404-827-0027.
  • Timur Kuran

    Timur Kuran is professor of economics and political science and Gorter Family Professor of Islamic Studies at Duke University in Durham, N.C. He has researched economic issues involving Islam, and his books include Islam and Mammon: The Economic Predicaments of Islamism (Princeton University Press, 2004).

  • Harvey Newman

    Harvey Newman is a professor of public administration and urban studies in the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University. A United Church of Christ minister, he has an extensive background in faith-based nonprofits.

  • The Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy

    The Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy is the state’s oldest faith-based advocacy group and specializes in data analysis, policy research, public education and direct advocacy on a range of issues that address poverty and low-income people. The center is based in Richmond. Contact executive director Kim Bobo through communications director Neill Caldwell.

  • John P. Bartkowski

    John P. Bartkowski is a professor of sociology at Mississippi State University. He has conducted research on religion and families and can speak about how teens’ religiosity affects their involvement in risky behaviors, such as using drugs, and their social relationships, particularly dating patterns. Bartkowski is working on a book about Mormon teen religiosity and another on evangelical parenting. He co-wrote the book Charitable Choices: Religion, Race, and Poverty in the Post-Welfare Era (New York University Press, 2003).

  • Interdisciplinary Poverty Initiative

    Baylor University, a private Baptist university, has an Interdisciplinary Poverty Initiative that focuses on engaging students in the issues of poverty, civic engagement, and social and economic justice. Contact project coordinator Kayla Mize.

  • Jay F. Hein

    Jay F. Hein, former director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, is Distinguished Senior Fellow and director of the Program for Faith and Service at Baylor University’s Institute for Studies of Religion in Waco, Texas. The Program for Faith and Service promotes cutting-edge approaches to social problems through faith-based organizations.

  • Ruby K. Payne

    Ruby K. Payne is an author, educator and speaker with a focus on poverty and economic class differences. She is the author of A Framework for Understanding Poverty. She is founder and CEO of aha! Process in Highlands, Texas.

    Contact: 281-426-5300.

In the Midwest

  • Scott W. Allard

    Scott W. Allard is an associate professor in the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration. He is the author of Out of Reach: Place, Poverty and the New American Welfare State. His research focuses on social welfare policy, poverty and nonprofit organizations in the United States.

  • Robert Haveman

    Robert Haveman is professor emeritus of economics at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and co-author of Understanding Poverty.

  • Inner City Muslim Action Network

    The Inner City Muslim Action Network is a small nonprofit serving Chicago’s South Side and Southwest communities. Prisoner re-entry is among its programs.

  • Laura Lein

    Laura Lein is dean of the University of Michigan School of Social Work and Collegiate Professor of Social Work. She is an expert on poverty and the author of many studies of families in poverty, including Katrina evacuees and people living on the Texas-Mexico border. She co-authored Life After Welfare: Reform and the Persistence of Poverty (2007).

  • Heidi Unruh

    Heidi Unruh is director of the Congregations, Community Outreach and Leadership Development Project and staff associate with Evangelicals for Social Action. She is co-editor of Hope for Children in Poverty: Profiles and Possibilities and co-author of Saving Souls, Serving Society: Understanding the Faith Factor in Church-Based Social Ministries. She lives in Hutchison, Kan.

  • Allen Hertzke

    Allen Hertzke is Presidential Professor of Political Science at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, where he specializes in religious studies. His books include Freeing God’s Children: The Unlikely Alliance for Global Human Rights; Representing God in Washington: The Role of Religious Lobbies in the American Polity; and, as co-author, Religion and Politics in America: Faith, Culture and Strategic Choices. He is an expert on church-based populist movements.

In the West

  • The Coalition for Compassion and Justice

    The Coalition for Compassion and Justice, based in Prescott, Ariz., helps meet the needs of people in poverty. Contact executive director Paul Mitchell.

  • Richard L. Wood

    Richard L. Wood is director of the Religious Studies Program at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. He wrote the book Faith in Action: Religion, Race, and Democratic Organizing in America (University of Chicago Press, 2002) and contributed the essay “Religion, Faith-Based Organizing, and the Struggle for Justice” for the book Handbook of the Sociology of Religion (Cambridge University Press, 2001).

  • Angela Glover Blackwell

    Angela Glover Blackwell is founder and CEO of PolicyLink, a national research institute in Oakland, Calif., that works for economic and social equity. She is a lawyer and well-known advocate on issues of poverty, race and the role of faith.

    Contact: 510-663-2333.
  • Greg Duncan

    Greg Duncan is Distinguished Professor of Education at the University of California, Irvine. He has published extensively on welfare and poverty, including (as co-author) Higher Ground: New Hope for the Working Poor and Their Children and (as co-editor) For Better and For Worse: Welfare Reform and the Well-Being of Children and Families.

  • Donald E. Miller

    Donald E. Miller is Firestone Professor of Religion at the University of Southern California, executive director of the Center for Religion and Civic Culture and director of the university’s school of religion. His books include Reinventing American Protestantism: Christianity in the New Millennium (University of California Press, 1999), for which he looked at “new paradigm” churches, in particular three megachurches that began in Southern California; he says they and others like them represent a kind of second reformation for Christianity.

  • The West Coast Poverty Center

    The West Coast Poverty Center is based at the University of Washington. Jennifer Romich is director as well as professor of social work and public affairs.

Related source guides