Miller Center

Larycia Hawkins

Political Science, University of Oklahoma

Framing the Faith-Based Initiative: Black Church Elites and the Black Policy Agenda

Hawkins photo

Larycia Hawkins the Abd el-Kader Visiting Faculty Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia

Prior to obtaining her Ph.D., Hawkins worked in state government administering federal programs, including the Social Security Disability Programs and the Community Development Block Grant. 

Dr. Hawkins’ research interests lie at the intersection of race, religion, and politics.  She is currently working to publish her dissertation, Framing the Faith-Based Initiative: Black Church Elites and the Black Policy Agenda.  Her active research agenda includes projects that explore the extent to which black theology frames black political rhetoric and how black theology is reflected on black political agendas, like those of the  Congressional Black Caucus and the NAACP; and a project that considers the political activism of black congregations outside the ambit of the black church (i.e. black Catholic parishes, United Church of Christ).

Hawkins's dissertation asked: Is the black agenda collective or disparate? Evidence of a disconnect between black mass opinion and the policy agenda of black political elites necessitates scholarly inquiry. For example, 81% of African Americans and Hispanics are favorably disposed toward government-funding of faith-based social services, higher than the 68% of White Americans and 75% of the national sample registering similar support. Yet, the legislative agendas of the Congressional Black Caucus and the NAACP reveal the active efforts of black political and civic elites to oppose the Faith-Based and Community Initiative. Hawkins's dissertation examined this disconnect via the black policy agenda with reference to how the black church, the seminal institution of black society, figures into this puzzle. Her dissertation also determined which policy images contribute to the black political dynamic with regard to the Faith-Based and Community Initiative. Specifically, Hawkins demonstrated how black pastors define the Faith-Based and Community Initiative and how pastoral definitions of political issues influence the broader black political process, including black politicians and the black policy agenda.

Fellowship year: 2007

Mentor: Drew Smith, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

Selected Recent Publications

Religion and American Politics: Classic and Contemporary Perspectives, with Amy Black and Doug Koopman (Pearson, 2011)

Categories: Civil RightsReligion

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