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Intertwining Relationship Between Religion and Homeless Individuals-the Current Situation, Obstacles, and Prospects of the Homeless Service in Faith-based Charity and Social Welfare Organizations Across Taiwan



Parallel abstracts

The world's religions have played a crucial role in providing care for the homeless since ancient times till today. This paper first examines how religions have intertwined with the homeless from a historic perspective, then explores the way Taiwanese religious and social welfare institutions provide support and instructions for the "disadvantaged and homeless" (a.k.a. street people). Conclusive findings are presented as follows: 1. In Taiwan, religious organizations, which make it a point to practice beneficence and philanthropy, show more compassion and acceptance for street people. Some of these religious institutions provide food and drinking water to homeless individuals at fixed locations regularly. On the other hand, street people tend to ask for shelter in temples and churches. When street people need help, they seek support from their relatives and friends, as well as social workers and religious people. Social workers can be found in government agencies and private organizations at the same time. Most of the leaders of private organizations have religious affiliations; some of these organizations are funded, supported, or even led by churches. On that account, faith-based social welfare or charity organizations established by religious leaders contribute a lot toward the service network for street people in Taiwan. 2. When it comes to permanent faith-based charity institutions in Taiwan, a majority of them are Christian and Buddhism organizations. Christian institutions have a tradition of dedicating themselves to provideing for the poor and homeless, which can be traced back to the Middle Ages. By comparison, the organizations based on the doctrines of Taoism, folk religion, or Buddhism have done much less in this regard. 3. Faith-based social welfare institutions have specific "religious beliefs;" hence, their managers, employees, and volunteers all have religious enthusiasm and a strong sense of commitment. The kind act of serving street people elevates the state of well-being for both the helper and recipient.