One journalism newsletter complained recently that reporters have overquoted me during this year's debate about President Bush's faith-based initiative. I agree. Reporters shouldn't be basing their stories on what Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State says. They shouldn't be basing their stories on what I say. They should be going out into the field and talking with people fighting poverty at the front lines.
That's what WORLD is trying to do this year with stories of four kinds-and over the next 22 pages you'll see examples of each. The first kind illuminates the debates going on within religious anti-poverty groups as they think through how to respond to the faith-based initiative. As the following story about Teen Challenge shows, evangelicals are not easily led, and the questioning is intense and good.
The second kind documents the perseverance of some social entrepreneurs. Journalists not familiar with their activities sometimes assume that the poor must wait on the lords of government. The articles beginning on p. 76 show how individuals-Mo Leverett in New Orleans, Ray and Carolyn Cooley in Sarasota, and Vincent Gaddis in Dallas-have created programs that inspire both those in need and volunteers willing to help.
The third variety extends the boundaries of compassionate conservatism to areas sometimes seen as apart from it. The day-to-day work of crisis pregnancy centers is probably the clearest example of compassionate conservatism around: Counselors suffer with individuals in need, working to save bodies and souls. Our story on p. 84 tells more about the major technological boost those counselors are now receiving.
While we roam the countryside we try through a fourth kind of story to cover the debate inside the Beltway, but even there we want to go beyond the usual suspect themes. In that vein we conclude this section with a look at visionary Mike Joyce's battle to get corporate and foundation givers to drop their frequent discrimination against religious groups.