Does faith-based orientation have an impact on development and humanitarian outcomes?

Although you don't typically see it covered in DevEx or Al Jazeera, there is a debate in the aid world about whether or not faith-based orientation has an effect on development and humanitarian outcomes.

On one side, people argue passionately that a faith-based organization is more effective specifically because it is faith-based. Their reasons that range from "we can identify more with beneficiaries who also are people to faith," to strength of motivation, to essentially "God is on our side." They argue that faith-based organizations are more effective than others because of the fact that they are faith-based.

Those on the other side argue with equal passion that faith and religion and spirituality muddy the waters, dilute strategies, and erode efficiency. They reason that faith-status introduces competing agendas into the mix, which undermine organizational focus on humanitarian and/or development aid. They argue that faith-based organizations are necessarily less effective because of the fact that they are faith-based.

Now, we don't want to start any fights or get anybody barred from the after-party. But we would like to know what you think. Is faith-based status at the level of the organization (not the individual employee) a determinant--positively or negatively--of humanitarian or development effectiveness? Please keep in mind that we're not asking about any specific faith--there are NGOs and charities of every major religion: Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism--but rather, about faith-based orientation in general.

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