Charitable Choice legislation and the Faith-Based and Community Initiatives permit substance abuse programs that utilize religious practices to be eligible for federal funding. The governments support of faith-based programs raises policy issues,MoreCharitable Choice legislation and the Faith-Based and Community Initiatives permit substance abuse programs that utilize religious practices to be eligible for federal funding.
The governments support of faith-based programs raises policy issues, specifically how to balance financing of inherently religious activities with the public need for effective services. Current regulations require that faith-based services must be offered on a voluntary basis and separated from non-religious activities. But is this realistic, particularly if providers believe that religious-focused treatment aids recovery?-The role of religion was compared between traditional secular and community faith-based programs, the targeted vendors of the policy.
In-depth interviews and observations were conducted in twelve faith-based and eleven secular programs in three geographic areas. Telephone interviews were conducted with an additional twenty-five programs. Grounded theory methods of analysis were used to develop theoretical models of religious influences in treatment.-The comparison yielded major differences.
Secular programs allowed religious practices but regarded them as voluntary components. Faith-based programs adopted one of two strategies. Some selectively introduced religious practices but separated from other treatment activities. Others regarded faith as essential to recovery and systematically introduced religious practices. Such programs found it difficult to comply with regulations.
In addition, unlike secular programs, faith-based vendors were likely to perceive government funding as a threat to their program identity.-As a policy tool to increase client choice and treatment capacity, the Initiative may not reach its goals. It results in a system where publicly funded providers follow two sets of rules, and removes faith-based vendors from the purview of standards such as licensing.
Unintended consequences may include reduced capacity for patients with co-morbid psychiatric conditions. Results of this study may help policymakers understand religious interventions as a viable choice for some substance abusers while calling attention to potential consequences if funding is provided to faith-based organizations at the expense of secular programs.