The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland Tennessee (TN) and Bradley County Tennessee (Tn).

Of Bradley County Tn.


                            The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland and Bradley County Tn.







Faith Based Impact

by JC Bowman

Public policy should not be made on the basis of rhetoric rather than data, and it is accurate to say that limited data is available, but the analysis of faith based efforts is promising. There is great variability in the faith-based approaches to anti-gang programs, and clearly each individual organization brings various levels of experience and skills to this debate. It is imperative that we develop capacity within the faith based community to meet and assist societal needs. There is obviously the knowledge and skills within the faith based community to establish high quality and high performing programs.

The potential for the churches to become safe havens for at risk youth is enormous. Although most churches have not developed an outreach to at risk youth, many have. However, their outreach remains small and focuses on retaining only the younger children. Training in youth ministry could empower these organizations to reach the older youth out on the streets.

Likewise we recognize that citizens have different views, needs, and values and that collectivist approaches to providing for citizen needs fail. Therefore, government will best serve the citizens by advocating partnership-building strategies designed to help children reach their fullest potential, encourage corporate givers to support the work of faith based organizations, and assist in drawing attention to faith based organizations by publishing studies and articles on their programs. The faith based community supports the best allocation of current resources. It is essential that juvenile justice practitioners and policymakers involve faith based organizations and keep them informed about juvenile justice issues.

Faith has traditionally played a crucial role in shaping both American institutions and civil society, and America has thrived as a model of democracy and equality precisely because of this pervasive religiosity and the traditions it helped establish. The abundance of faith based voices in the public square does not mean that the issues of the day will suddenly vanish. But the inclusion of faith based organization's views and voices does allow communities to explore areas of consensus that are often overlooked. It provides the faith based community the opportunity to do what it does best serving others and expands its role in serving society.

Faith-based Approaches to Combating Gang Involvement

J C Bowman

-J. C. Bowman, a native of Cleveland, is a well informed and outspoken conservative educator. Is a freelance public policy analyst who resides in Cleveland, TN. Prior to this, he was Director for the Center for Education Innovation at Florida State University.  He served as the Director for the Florida Department of Education Choice Office and as the Chief Policy Analyst of the Education Policy Unit for Florida Governor Jeb Bush.



It is a central tenet of contemporary religions that concern for the poor and children are critical issues to be addressed. With nearly 12 percent of Americans living in poverty and despair, it is obvious adherents are not fulfilling this critical calling. Reasons are varied, but changes in existing government policy and a more balanced approach offer the faith-based community of the twenty-first century an additional opportunity to expand its role in serving society. When churches, synagogues, mosques, businesses, and governments collaborate, impressive things can happen to cause productive change in communities and among individuals. The impact could be of a global magnitude.

Unfortunately we have seen a decline in personal responsibility of many Americans and the reluctance of too many faith based organizations to serve their needy neighbors as they should. However, we know that it is inevitable that when faith-based organizations cooperate with the government we can improve the lives of all Americans. It is necessary that we demonstrate that these programs have objective outcomes as good as or better than secular programs. When the goal is efficiency, then values - sectarian or not -- are not the issue. If transformation works, why not pursue it, as long as there is an option to choose a nonsectarian provider? The objective remains to see that children's lives are improved and that resources are used wisely. Balancing a passion for the social welfare of youth with a rigorous focus on performance and accountability for results is a win-win for society in general and the individuals in need of assistance and a charge the faith based community should welcome.

The simple fact that there are not hundreds of examples of faith based organizations combating youth issues, such as gang involvement is evidence that the playing field for faith based organizations to provide social services has not been truly level. Involving the faith based community in partnership can help protect public safety, hold offenders accountable, and provides treatment and rehabilitative services tailored to the needs of juveniles and their families. Although the federal government has at least temporarily removed many barriers to

public funding of faith-based and community organizations, some barriers still remain. Many of the barriers frequently faced are at the state and local level. It is a critical task to "educate" state and local officials that it is acceptable for them to partner with 501(c)(3) organizations and provide services to the most vulnerable in the community. The faith based community must grapple with the fact that the particular beneficiaries of such services may be neighborhood youth and adults who are not nor may never become members of the congregation.

Many states, local communities, and tribal jurisdictions who seek assistance for at-risk youth would benefit from the involvement of faith based organizations in developing and implementing effective programs for juveniles. America benefits from uncompromising leaders who fight for every single child and will not accept anything less than excellence from organizations serving those children. Many of the affected youth live in impoverished families or neighborhoods, come from single parent backgrounds, and/or are confronted with drugs and/or violence on a daily basis. Priority areas such as child sexual exploitation, female delinquency, gangs, and truancy need a total commitment from the entire community and may offer the greatest potential for combating delinquency, reducing the victimization of children, and improving the juvenile justice system.

Faith based organizations demonstrate the power of private institutions, both for-profit and non-profit, to create a good society, as well as foster an understanding of an appreciation for the limits of conscious planning in addressing complex social issues. Their involvement in youth related issues help cultivate policies and attitudes that link individual actions to personal outcomes.

By involving faith and community based organizations it also serves to reverse the public perception that government intervention is the most appropriate or efficient solution to most problems. However, when the private sector cannot effectively provide a service needed by most citizens, then the provision of that service should be considered an appropriate activity for government. Working together churches, synagogues, mosques, businesses, and governments can help assure that proper help is provided to those individuals within our community who legitimately cannot meet their own basic human needs. Individuals, not government, can provide children with what they most need--love and caring. Visit my website if I can help your faith or community based organization at

--J. C. Bowman is a public policy analyst who resides in Cleveland, TN..
He can be reached by email at:

Visit his website at: