Symposium to Examine Controversial Welfare Reform Provisions

March 27, 1998

WACO, Texas -- Leading experts in church-state issues will debate the Charitable Choice provisions, one of the most controversial sections of the 1996 Welfare Reform Act, on April 6-7 at Baylor University. "Welfare Reform and the Churches," a symposium sponsored by the Center for Constitutional Studies of the J.M. Dawson Institute of Church-State Studies at Baylor, will focus on the pros and cons of allowing federal funding of faith-based social service agencies.

"This promises to be a lively symposium because the presenters come from such diverse backgrounds and represent a wide range of opinion over the questions posed," said Dr. Barry Hankins, associate director of the J.M. Dawson Institute of Church-State Studies and coordinator of the event.

Keynote speaker for the symposium will be Jim Wallis, editor-in-chief of Sojourners magazine, which examines issues of faith, politics and culture. Co-chair of the faith communities' task force of the President's Summit for America's Future in 1997, Wallis has written numerous articles for Time, Newsweek, The Washington Post and The New York Times. He has appeared on news broadcasts for NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN and the BBC and has often been a guest on "Larry King Live."

Wallis will deliver his speech, "Overcoming Poverty: A New Era of Partnership," at 7 p.m. April 6 on the fifth floor of the Cashion Building on the Baylor campus.

"Wallis is in favor of a partnership between government and faith-based social services," said Hankins. "He feels that with the level of social problems we have in America, the best way to deal with the problems is through government support of the physical and the spiritual aspects of the issues."

The symposium also will include presentations by Alan Brownstein of the University of California, Davis School of Law; Julie Segal of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State; Ron Sider of Evangelicals for Social Action; Sharon Daly of Catholic Charities USA; and Melissa Rogers of the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs. Also, Don Willett of the special projects coordinator for Texas Gov. George Bush Jr., will speak on the governor's efforts to assist faith-based charities.

All sessions of the symposium will be held on the fifth floor of the Cashion Building. Presentations will begin at 1:30 p.m. on Monday and 8:45 a.m. on Tuesday. The symposium will conclude at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.

For more information, contact Hankins at (254) 710-1510.

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