Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Social Work, Ph.D.

First Advisor

Dr. Mary Katherine O'Connor


Faith-based initiatives have the potential to alter church-state relationships as they remove barriers to the public funding of human services in organizations that promote the role of values, beliefs, and other characteristics of faith. In seeking to "level the playing field" for these faith-based organizations, faith-based initiatives suggest moving away from past practices, where "religious" organizations utilized public funding for the delivery of "secular" human services, and toward the public funding support of organizations whose human service activities are based on faith in a more thoroughgoing manner.This research inquires into meanings assigned to opportunities and risks related to the public funding of faith-based organizations, as articulated by a variety of stakeholders, from government officials to the leaders of faith-based organizations. The guiding research question, What are the meanings of church-state relationships for faith-based organizations?, asks the leaders of faith-based organizations in one Virginia locality, as well as other local, state, and national stakeholders, about their understandings of various aspects of the church-state relationships that develop when faith-based organizations utilize public funds for the provision of human services.The findings of this inquiry, presented in a narrative case study report, and the implications of this case study provide a richer understanding of the multiple meanings that faith-based organizations assign to relationships with government programs, government agencies, and the use of public funds. The multiple meanings of church-state relationships that are offered by diverse research participants provide valuable insights into the complex phenomenon of faith-basis organizations providing human services with government monies. The interpretations offered in this dissertation provide greater knowledge of the role of faith as a basis for publicly funded human services, and furthermore, this knowledge may find value in its recognition of the implications of faith-based, publicly funded human services.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

June 2008

Included in

Social Work Commons