Local faith-based NGOs (FBOs) are a major force in international development. Almost all religious traditions call followers to charity and non-profits are often the perfect vehicles for such work. FBOs are seen as having long-term commitments to local communities, focus and spiritual strength in the face of difficult conditions, and compassionate staff members. Indeed, there is a growing body of research demonstrating the effectiveness of faith-based health and social services. However, history has shown that religious faith also carries the potential for violence and exclusion. Especially for FBOs working in countries plagued by religious conflict, this reality can highlight dubious and harmful undercurrents in their work. For the Love of God examines the ways history and religious identity influences FBOs in Lebanon, Sri Lanka and Bosnia Herzegovina and finds that they often reinforce rather than transcend schisms found in the larger society. Based on over 100 interviews with FBO staffers in these countries, Flanigan reveals the darker, more ambivalent side of altruism.
Flanigan, Shawn. 2009. For the Love of God: NGOs and Religious Identity in a Violent World. Sterling, VA:Kumarian Press.