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This article argues that a primary, contemporary product of four moments in the history of faith-based social services has been a highly selective and inconsistent use of the notion of human rights by churches and church leaders. Churches still occasionally reference a communitarian sense of human rights and public good but now more commonly use the rhetoric of individual rights to contest specific political positions and social policies in the arena of the social service agencies these churches sponsor. Changing church views of human nature are not sweeping changes, but small changes of degree that still have the power to powerfully reorient social relations. In this sense, churches that sponsor social services increasingly espouse a privatized, economic, and individualistic “Civil Society” in sharp contrast to communitarian notions of social citizenship that formerly better reflected churches’ operating ontology.
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Keywords: Christian ontology; church mission; faith-based; free market; market-based; social services

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Stephen Edward McMillin is a doctoral candidate at the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago, 969 E. 60th Street, Chicago, IL 60637, USA;, Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 2011-06-01

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