R. Lawrence Moore

R. Laurence Moore teaches history at Cornell University. He co-authored The Godless Constitution with Isaac Kramnick.

Recent Articles

Can the Churches Save the Cities?

"Faith-based activism" is very much in vogue, and some church-run programs may be effective at alleviating urban ills. But funding these programs with government money raises troubling constitutional issues. Is there a reasonable middle ground?

A loud chorus now proclaims that America's social ills can be dealt with better by private religious organizations than by government. More than 400 ministries in America, up from 200 just two years ago, participate in the Christian Community Development Association's efforts to revive inner cities through Christian commitment and zeal. Business Week , the New Yorker , Christianity Today , America , and City Limits have devoted long articles to what is described as a veritable urban renaissance sweeping the country thanks to community improvement initiatives by churches, mosques, and synagogues. According to these stories, religious institutions lead effective programs providing social services and encouraging economic development in Chicago, Baltimore, Harlem, Brooklyn, Detroit, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Austin, and Atlanta. Many people would like such "faith-based" social activism to receive not only more private money, but also more government support. A Supreme Court decision...