An interview with Karen Woods
Religion & Liberty Online

An interview with Karen Woods

The Roundtable on Religion & Social Policy interviewed Acton’s Karen Woods, director of the Center for Effective Compassion (CEC) this week. Woods spoke about the work of the CEC, including the Samaritan Award, and also gave her perspective on the federal Faith-Based and Community Initiative.

She says in part,

With welfare reform in ’96, and certainly the waivers that preceded that in certain states, there was a change in the way that we looked at social services. Suddenly, work was valued, not just in the sense of an economic value, but a personal value. You’re not viewed by the system as saying, “Well, we have to help you because you can’t help yourself,” but saying, “Guess what? There are a lot of things you could do for yourself and let’s focus on that.”

We’ve got all these people in the system — three and four generations of people who’ve been on entitlement systems that don’t know how to work. The parallel issue with that is that you have three or four generations of people who do not know how to help — and many of them sitting in church pews and in religious congregations across the United States.

Because, for three and four generations, the first line of defense was called social services, as opposed to saying, “I watched my mother help the next door neighbor when she had problems and when she was ill or couldn’t take care of her kids (or) I watched my dad help a man in our church who’d lost his job, and helped him with his job skills and get another job.” That used to be an assumed role of Christian charity.

Jordan J. Ballor

Jordan J. Ballor (Dr. theol., University of Zurich; Ph.D., Calvin Theological Seminary) is director of research at the Center for Religion, Culture & Democracy, an initiative of the First Liberty Institute. He has previously held research positions at the Acton Institute and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, and has authored multiple books, including a forthcoming introduction to the public theology of Abraham Kuyper. Working with Lexham Press, he served as a general editor for the 12 volume Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology series, and his research can be found in publications including Journal of Markets & Morality, Journal of Religion, Scottish Journal of Theology, Reformation & Renaissance Review, Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Faith & Economics, and Calvin Theological Journal. He is also associate director of the Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research at Calvin Theological Seminary and the Henry Institute for the Study of Christianity & Politics at Calvin University.