Although religious congregations in the United States constitute a significant part of the nation's safety net (Cnaan, Boddie, and Weinburg, 1999), questions still remain: are religious congregations in the United States unique in their involvement in social service provision? To answer this question, we need to compare them with congregations in countries similar to the United States. Congregational social and community involvement in the United States is attributed to several factors: the unique separation of state and church, a pluralistic ethnic society, and the market economy of religion in the United States. If these factors explain the impressive involvement of local religious congregations in helping people in need and in enhancing quality of life in the community, then we should expect similar findings regarding congregations in other countries with similar characteristics.
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