Faith-Based Programs
Steve Siegel  -  2004/11/30
The most effective approach to using faith-based is to incorporate it within current progams run by state and local governments. The problem is the fear of the (ACLU) religious connection to "constitutional claims" of seperation of "church and state". How do we effectively use faith-based programs, which must have religious content to "work" and avoid the ACLU "veto".
1.  Carol Hughes
 My understanding is that as long as we are not promoting one religion or impeding anyone's faith practice, we are not violating the first amendment. There has been a shift in first amendment interpretation from absolute separation to equal treatment. We can offer spiritual resources just as we can offer physical, mental,and economic resources. Offer is a key word.
2.  Melissa Cilley
 We are a "religious" organization in that we are Lutheran Community Services Northwest. We do not, however, promote religion through our methodology. Consequently, we are funded by several local, state, and federal funders that specifically preclude "religious" programs. We have had no problems with the ACLU or like organizations. We do, however, believe that our overall mission and collaborative efforts with local faith communities qualify us as having enough religious content to "work." Comments?
3.  Steve Siegel
 There is a significant difference between using a religious context for your work and promoting a religion only point of view. Promotion of one path of healing and adoption of that religious point of view as the "gate to healing" is the point of playing with ACLU fire.
In Michigan we are actively trying to engage local clergy and faith leaders (from all faiths) for prevention of domestic violence. Although we know clergy response is critically important to the safety and well being of the victims that approach them, we also feel it is equally important for faith leaders to take a vocal stand against violence in their communities and congregations. How do we engage these leaders on issues of patriarchy and sexism which are inherent in violence against women? We welcome strategies for prevention discussions and for developing programs or partnerships.
1.  Steve Siegel
 OK the difficult will take a little while and the imposssible a wee bit longer! I believe you build a great sandwich in layers! Why are there always these food and/or sports analagies? I believe the topics of patricarchy and sexism are lightening rods for dispute and difference. I would BEGIN with a focus on the common elements of DV which can engage the clergy. Work towards a plan that institutes short term goals and building of trust on these common elements. That will allow for the oportunity to engage the more potentially contentious topics. I am very confident that a prior meeting with the clergy who are already "your allies" will yield the development of such an escalating agenda.
What suggestions do you have to build capacity in the faith community to partner in Victim Services? Suggestions for appropriate & feasible training?
1.  Eileen Turner
 Thank you for recognizing the need for teamwork between those of us providing assistance from the faith based community, and those of us providing assistance from the traditional victim services community. Our organization has worked hard in our community to promote the kind of cooperation and understanding that you suggest, even including local law enforcement agencies. It is truly the only effective means to providing a broader scope of assistance to the victim. I have found that the responsibility for building these relationships is up to me! I can't just sit back and hope the victim services folks will seek us out.
2.  Susan
 I so agree with your comments; however, it is incredibly difficult to overcome the reluctance in faith-based providers as well as VA's to understand that they need to have a good understanding of what each other's work is about. Also, to take into account that each has a different context out of which they are providing service and assistance. Both, valuable.
3.  Steve Siegel
 I love this question! At the heart of our efforts has been the development of mutual respect and understanding of the roles of traditional victim advocate and faith based services. The VA's need to learn much about the faith based provider and the opposite is also true. This world we currently live in is quite good at rhetoric and style over sincerity and substance. Forgive the words I use that have been turned into empty cliche....but.... true and honest collaboration between these groups is what best serves the needs of victims. Spending the time to get to know, understand and appreciate and honor each others work is the formula for "best practice." We use a formula that states "What does the clergy need to know about victim services?" "What does the victim services provider need to know about the faith based environment" "What do we all need to know about the individual needs of THIS victim" "How do WE divise a service plan that best incorporates our individual and collective service assets."
4.  Harold Dowler
 This is a concern with the small congregation I serve in a transitional time. We know that collabrative efforts will work best and we know that training is essential. Eager to hear more ideas. Thanks for your question.
5.  Paul Longo
 Do you think the practice of "stewardship" in communities of faith will enhance accountability and continuous-improvement efforts?
6.  Eileen Turner
 Our organization is working to build partnerships with the local churches. With support of a pastor, a Victim Relief Council is established in a each church. These councils are comprised of church members and/or clergy who are volunteers interested in working with victims of crime. The council members are then trained by our organization as volunteers. Our staff can then mobilize these volunteers when a crisis occurs.
Dear Mr. Siegel, or others, For part of the time, I am the faith community outreach coordinator at a domestic and sexual violence services program (with shelter), a secular non-profit organization. I have had numerous conversations with various local pastors and church members (some formal and structured, others not) and have attended trainings to help me further my understanding and ability to work with faith communities. I believe, and my employer believes, this is an integral part of working to end intimate partner violence in our community. So, my question: What financial assistance is there to sustain this work? Is there any way to tap into faith-based initiative funds for faith-based work within a non-faith-based organization? Thank you.
1.  Steve Siegel
 The simple answer is yes. It is all in how you format your program. First reference would be to the White House Faith Based Initiative. Keep a close eye on the OVC Web site for posting of potential new grant resources. Explore local Victim Services funding and of course learn about private sector funding in this content area and geographic areas.
What is the best way to talk about the connection between offender and victim ministries? Our non-profit victim assistance program has a Victim Ministry Program of trained volunteers helping interested victims with one-on-one friendship, assistance, safe spiritual talk. As we encourage places of worship to advertise, provide volunteers, and financial support to the Ministry, should we be asking the faith institutions to link this Ministry with their prison and jail chaplain committee / mission or not? Are we going to find Restorative Justice hearts that understand both, or should this Ministry be supported by a stand alone group of people in the congregation? Should we ask for a balanced Ministry to offenders and victims (is it good integration or divisive)?
1.  Steve Siegel
 Jeff's comments are well taken! The devil is in the details......clever in this forum on Faith Based!.....from the victim's perspective. We are moving forward thanks to leaders in the field of Restorative Justice who have truly embraced the role of victims in this system. Look to wonderful people like Anne Seymour at Justice Solutions for further discussions in this area
2.  Jeff
 I agree with the idea of a balanced approach to the issue. For too long there has been a gap. True healing can best be accomplished in a balanced manner. This includes not only the victim but healing for the offender as well. We not only want the victim to heal we also do not want to return unrehabilitated offenders to our communities to reoffend. Connecting these offenders (when appropriate) with the condequences of their actions can be a valuable tool in reducing recidivism. It helps to show offenders the depth of the hurt that their actions caused. However, that being said, it needs to be done in a compassionate way for all involved parties. In my experience there are offenders who are truely sorry for their actions and would very much like to atone in some way. Most of those who would like the opportunity to do so just do not know how without causing additional hurt/pain. Of course there are who are not of this mindset, so a determination needs to be made in this area. However, one should not exclude the needs of offenders who will be returning to our communities. If an offender is willing to participate in an appropriate manner it should be restorative for both parties.
3.  Steve Siegel
 David is one of the great victim advocates in our country and his participation is so welcomed! I am of the belief that we are spending too much time and effort buying into the labels of Resorative Justice and the unfortunate preconceived notions that those who do not understand it are prone to....I embrace the tenets that suggest that all victim healing the victims perrogative....communications with the offender and the surrounding community. Of course this topic is so broad as the the variance of type of crime. OK specifically, I would not create a separate ministry....I would educate the existing ministries as to the specific needs of crime victims. We have allowed the gap to exist for far too long between victim and offender services. All that said....respect for the individual victim is paramount. This is not a one time training overnight process!
I am honored and humbled to join the Web Forum today. I would of course be happy to expand these discussions at a future date if you believe that I can address your individual issues.
If evidence based practice is based on the integration of applied or clinical expertise with the best available external clinical evidence from systematic, peer-reviewed research, and faith-based practice by definition does not rest on logical or material evidence, but on a secure belief in God, how do you resolve the conflict inherent in these sets of beliefs?
1.  Steve Siegel
 I am so pleased that one of these questions...or rather my answer sparked a debate. With proper respect to P. Pettijohn, acknowledging the debate that continues in the research field does not negate the advancement of "best practices" philosophies and methodologies. Such debate exists in the medical and legal professions without stifling practice. I am "married" in my career to the idea of implementing best practices models for both treatment and multi-disciplinary approaches to victim services. However, the debate does rage on in critical areas of our work from Offender Treatment to Crisis Intervention and beyond! srs
2.  P. Pettijohn
 Nothing could demonstrate this conflict better than your reference to "raging" debate over "what is clinically most effective within the non-faith based services." In truth there is much that we do know, and we are constantly adding to that knowledge base. But as the Presidentís NF Commission pointed out, it is the failure to adequately translate and transfer what we know from research to practice that is the problem. It is a grave disservice to clients to dismiss evidence-based practice by referring only to contested knowledge, with no recognition of the advances that have been made, nor the urgent need to incorporate best practice. I cannot agree that these are simply value neutral tools.
3.  Steve Siegel
 Do we have a year to chat? In short, there need not exist conflict. I look at it this way....there "tool box" of services to crime victims must be filled with a diversity of approaches. This is not a question of who is right and who is wrong. the offer of support for spiritual needs does not preclude traditional mental health or victim services. In deed there is still raging debate as to what is clinically most effective within the non-faith based services.
Is there a written treatment plan using faith based material that is out there for us to use? Is there trouble if you use the name "Jesus" or do you stick with the name of "God" only?
1.  Steve Siegel
 Mary Ellen does a good job of pointing to the complications of this new relationship between government funding and faith based services. Also remember Mary Ellen that for many, the term God is also exclusionary. We have the right to believe or NOT believe in God. Spirituality is an art of great individuality! srs
2.  Steve Siegel
 I have been told that they are a great resource. Thank you for adding to the body of information
3.  Tammy
 Are you referring to a treatment plan for survivors or perpetrators of violence? An organization called the Faith Trust Institute, (formerly the Center for the Prevention of Domestic and Sexual Violence) has resources on healing as well as information designed for clergy and/or faith leaders on the issues of family violence. Christian, Jewish, and Muslim perspectives are addressed. The website address is
4.  mary ellen
 personally, jesus is exclusive, whereas god is inclusive...teaching is ok at a faith-based facility, but not preachingteaching.
5.  Sharon
 I don't know for sure but I wonder if you search faithtrustinstitute, Marie Fortune's group, if they would have training programs to meet your needs.
6.  Steve Siegel
 I am not aware of any written treatment plan. you may want to check with David Dellaplaine or Janice Harris Lord or may others who have the actual counseling expertise. I am sure that OVC resource Center could direct you to such resources for at least further direction. I would find the reliance on the term "Jesus" to be limiting and perhaps exclusionary, whereas a reference to GOD to be less likely to alienate. This too should include sensitivity to whose who do not embrace GOD as a point of worship.
7.  Kathryn
 I would not use the name "Jesus". I don't assume anyone's connection to a particular faith. I would use a more neutral word such as higher being or spiritual connection. We need to be careful not to promote one religion over another while still acknowledging the power of faith and the importance of spiritual connection and faith commuities in one's life. ALso validate the power of faith in the process of healing.
8.  mary ellen
 personal opinion is that Jesus is exclusive, God is inclusive...and you cannot preach with federal dollars but you can teach at a faith-based facility with federal dollars.
has your work also involved programs that are faith-based domestic violence related into the military community as well? and if so, have you not found the military as very protective of letting "outsiders" into their community?
1.  Tammy
 Steve, I would welcome as many of the "tricks of the trade" as you are willing to offer in finding common ground and building trust. I have several constituencies, each with different audiences and perceived needs, and many community members seem hesitant to approach their local clergy. I am beginning to work with them on this, but any guidance and or resources would be welcome.
2.  Steve Siegel
 OK, now lets get complex! I believe that all institutions are somewhat "protective" of their turf and talent. However, we have had wonderful begginings of success in our work with the military and especially the Air Force Academy. I would expect the the double whammy of military clergy to be a challange. However, as I have stated in earlier answers....look for the common goround and build on it. the development of trust is critical. That trust must be built over time and nurtured. There are a slew of "tips to the trade." Unfortunately, a longer discussion that we can accomplish today.
Hello, thanks for your time today. My question is about domestic violence. I work for a faith based counseling agency and we are developing a batterer's intervention program and addition to our services for victims. Do you know of any other faith based BIP programs? What type of response have you or other program gotten from the faith communitites with regard to referrals for the BIP? What has worked in terms of outreach to the clergy?
1.  Steve Siegel
 I am pleased to see your responses. There needs to be growth in this long as it is occurring with the accountability factors that are critical in BIP's. It is not enough to just "hang a shingle" and declare a specialty because "I have a mental health degree" or "I am faith based." I believe the field will welcome faith based providers who can demonstrate proficiency in treatment skills and a committment ot victim safety.
2.  Steve Siegel
 Baltimore, Maryland is also home to the House of Ruth a pioneering BIP. A worthwhile call for further information. srs
3.  Steve Siegel
 I am proud to be an original Board Member of the AMEND program here in Colorado. One of the first BIP's in the nation. I also served as the Chair of the Supreme Copurt Commission on Standards for Treatment of Batterers (which has morphed in the current Domestic Violence Offender Treatment Board). I would contact Linda Petit, the Executive Director of Amend to exxplore that names of existing programs. Google AMEND for contact info. Please see my earlier answer on what I believe will work to engage the clergy in this common cause. You must understand the focus and mission of the particular clergy to figure out the best way to build this partnership. Our experience is very successful when you listen and learn.
4.  Sharon
 In Maryland, we have a group called, Interfaith Coalition Against DV ( They sponsored a conference in October and their keynote speaker was a minister who had a BIP program. They could connect you with him.
5.  Teresa Turner
 Good day, we have a program in Central Illinois that works with batters called Family Life Skills Learning Center - it has a religious base for all of their programs - their website is
In our collaborative efforts with local faith communities, we are perplexed as to how to assist them in developing accountability standards. We are a Certified Sexual Assault Program and consequently, have many accountability measures built into our program. We don't want to impose our measures on faith communities that cannot or do not want to embrace them. We want and need to be certain, however, that victims and families receive consistent quality services whether they receive them through us or through the faith-based program. We strongly believe there is a role for faith communities in the healing process. How do we put it all together?
1.  Steve Siegel
 Mary Ellen, my response is stated right after the inital question. I am a strong supporter of standards and certification for victims services....whether they are faith based or criminal justice system based or community non-profit based. I do not believe that ANY agency should be serving the sensitive and often complicated needs of victims without quality of care accountability in the areas of education, training, supervision, and client stisfaction feedback(and other). srs
2.  Steve Siegel
 This is perhaps grounds for us to spend a year in Hawaii thinking this through....ready to go? Seriously, we are only in our infancy of certification of victim services. Even for Offender Services the Field is quite young. My approach would be an exploration of ...What are the specific elements of a best practices model for victim services? What specific elements can the faith based organization embrace? What current elements of accountability do they currently use internally? Do they parallel at any point? How can a Victim Satisfaction Survey be used as a early tool of standard? Remember the injuries are Physical, Financial, Psychological AND Spiritual. If we fail to address all....we come up short in our victim support.
3.  mary ellen
 great question and I am anxious to see response from Mr. Siegel knowing accountability is something service providers wrestle with every day when we utilize volunteers (that do good jobs)
I'm sure anyone involved can profess that Faith Based Programming works? However, what can researchers use to determine the effectiveness of Faith Based Programs and demonstrate it's success???
1.  Steve Siegel
 Try David Voth in Ohio, he is a wonderful resource on impact outcomes. srs
2.  TL Grover The FASTEN Network could probably give you some leads on how to make contact with Universities that are doing research in Faith-based programs. They have several areas of interest. Your local college/university may have a professor who needs research projects for Master's students to complete their thesis around. You will probably want to explore both a qualitative and a quantitative approach to evaluation.
3.  Martha Simmons
 There is a conference Dec. 9 in DC that addresses these issues -- the Roundtable on Religion and Social Welfare Policy -- a project by the Rockefeller Institute of Government. For info on research on these and other issues, go to www.religionand
4.  Steve Siegel
 I am not sure, but I would love to attend the nationa brainstorm on this topic. I would start with a victim satisfaction survey and build on more objective analysis.
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