In 1964 as the key legislation of the Johnson Administration’s War on Poverty, Congress passed the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 (EOA). R. Sargent Shriver (1915–2011), head of the resulting Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) and a devout Catholic, was an intellectually ardent student of theology and political philosophy, especially Catholic social doctrine. Shriver believed that there were common problems of justice that both church and state could address and on which they could collaborate, without trespassing the First Amendment. This article examines how Shriver, using religious sources and themes, enlisted faith-based organizations’ participation in EOA programs. It analyzes how he sought to build a moral consensus on the need to alleviate poverty by emphasizing the sacredness of the individual, the interconnectedness of all segments of society, and the role of spiritual values in fighting poverty and in considering the poor—all themes in Catholic social teaching.


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pp. 55-78
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