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Politics By Other Means: Urban Black Churches, Community Development Corporations, and Public Policy

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Abstract:

African-American churches are cornerstones of black political mobilization. They employ their resources as religious institutions to inform group political consciousness, influence political choices, and shape political behavior through the development of democratic skills and the transfer of political messages (Calhoun-Brown 1996; Harris 1999; McAdam 1982; Morris 1984; Verba, Schlozman, Brady, and Nie 1993). Historically, they have encouraged blacks to participate politically through protest and electoral action. They can move blacks to the streets as demonstrators and protestors, as well as lead them to the polls as voters and candidates. African-American churches demonstrated this well during the civil rights movement and in the subsequent period from protest to politics (McAdam 1982; Morris 1984; Harris 1999; Tate 1993). In the contemporary period, however, African-American churches participate politically through means beyond protest and elections.

Across the United States, hundreds of African-American churches cooperate with public agencies to run social welfare programs rather than just rely on contention and electoral mobilization to change social welfare policies and those who make them. In cooperating with government, they often use nonprofit subsidiaries, rather than their congregations. A common nonprofit type they employ is the community development corporation (CDC). The CDC originated during the War on Poverty as a tax-exempt organization aided by government resources to improve the environments and economies of disadvantaged neighborhoods (Perry 1987). The earliest African-American church-associated CDCs appeared in the early 1960s. By the mid-1990s, at least 156 African-American church-associated CDCs exist in the United States (Frederick 2001). Some serve as nonprofit subsidiaries of individual congregations, while others function as ecumenical institutions among a set of congregations or clerical alliances (Owens 2003).

This paper focuses on the political factors that account for the selection of cooperation as political mobilization by African-American churches. It raises a question: Why do African-American churches charter CDCs to cooperate with government instead of increasing their protest or electoral action to challenge the conditions of the poor? It answers it with data from New York City. The paper concludes that African-American churches cooperate with government because a black political ethos and black public opinions about political participation guides them, the material incentives of public policies entice them, and the substantive needs of their neighborhoods compels them.

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church (201), black (189), american (124), african (113), govern (103), communiti (101), citi (101), polit (101), african-american (99), new (95), public (84), neighborhood (80), develop (66), nonprofit (64), york (64), hous (63), polici (57), cdcs (55), social (54), institut (49), program (49),

Author's Keywords:

Black churches Black politics Religion and politics Social welfare Community politics
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MLA Citation:

Owens, Michael. "Politics By Other Means: Urban Black Churches, Community Development Corporations, and Public Policy" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Philadelphia Marriott Hotel, Philadelphia, PA, Aug 27, 2003 <Not Available>. 2009-05-26 <http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p62145_index.html>

APA Citation:

Owens, M. L. , 2003-08-27 "Politics By Other Means: Urban Black Churches, Community Development Corporations, and Public Policy" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Philadelphia Marriott Hotel, Philadelphia, PA Online <.PDF>. 2009-05-26 from http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p62145_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: African-American churches are cornerstones of black political mobilization. They employ their resources as religious institutions to inform group political consciousness, influence political choices, and shape political behavior through the development of democratic skills and the transfer of political messages (Calhoun-Brown 1996; Harris 1999; McAdam 1982; Morris 1984; Verba, Schlozman, Brady, and Nie 1993). Historically, they have encouraged blacks to participate politically through protest and electoral action. They can move blacks to the streets as demonstrators and protestors, as well as lead them to the polls as voters and candidates. African-American churches demonstrated this well during the civil rights movement and in the subsequent period from protest to politics (McAdam 1982; Morris 1984; Harris 1999; Tate 1993). In the contemporary period, however, African-American churches participate politically through means beyond protest and elections.

Across the United States, hundreds of African-American churches cooperate with public agencies to run social welfare programs rather than just rely on contention and electoral mobilization to change social welfare policies and those who make them. In cooperating with government, they often use nonprofit subsidiaries, rather than their congregations. A common nonprofit type they employ is the community development corporation (CDC). The CDC originated during the War on Poverty as a tax-exempt organization aided by government resources to improve the environments and economies of disadvantaged neighborhoods (Perry 1987). The earliest African-American church-associated CDCs appeared in the early 1960s. By the mid-1990s, at least 156 African-American church-associated CDCs exist in the United States (Frederick 2001). Some serve as nonprofit subsidiaries of individual congregations, while others function as ecumenical institutions among a set of congregations or clerical alliances (Owens 2003).

This paper focuses on the political factors that account for the selection of cooperation as political mobilization by African-American churches. It raises a question: Why do African-American churches charter CDCs to cooperate with government instead of increasing their protest or electoral action to challenge the conditions of the poor? It answers it with data from New York City. The paper concludes that African-American churches cooperate with government because a black political ethos and black public opinions about political participation guides them, the material incentives of public policies entice them, and the substantive needs of their neighborhoods compels them.

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Document Type: .pdf
Page count: 23
Word count: 12218
Text sample:
POLITICS BY OTHER MEANS: URBAN BLACK CHURCHES COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT CORPORATIONS AND PUBLIC POLICY Michael Leo Owens Department of Political Science Emory University Prepared for delivery at the 2003 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association August 28 - August 31 2003 Copyright by the American Political Science Association “He hastened to his church study and there prayed. He prayed for guidance and the wisdom to understand this leviathan of government. With its multiple interlocking bureaus regulations and rulings
181.9 200 150.3 161.3 116.3 100 0 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2 000 2 001 2 002 2 003 2 004 Sour ce: New Yor k City Independent Budget Of f ice 2000 22


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