Stanley Carlson-Thies

Director, Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance

Stanley Carlson-Thies is Director of the Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance, a division of the Center for Public Justice. He is also a Senior Fellow at CPJ and at the Canadian think tank Cardus. He convenes the Coalition to Preserve Religious Freedom, a multi-faith alliance of social-service, education, and religious freedom organizations that advocates for the religious freedom of faith-based organizations to Congress and the federal government.

In 2009-2010 Carlson-Thies served on a task force of President Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, helping to draft recommendations on how to clarify the church-state rules that apply to federal funding of social-service providers, and has consulted with federal departments and several states.

Carlson-Thies served with the White House Office of Faith-Based & Community Initiatives from its inception in February 2001 until mid-May 2002. He assisted with writing “Unlevel Playing Field: Barriers to Participation by Faith-Based and Community Organizations in Federal Social Service Programs,” a report released by the White House in August 2001, and “Rallying the Armies of Compassion,” the initial blueprint for President George W. Bush’s faith and community agenda.

Previously, Carlson-Thies was Director of Social Policy Studies for the Center for Public Justice and directed the Center’s project to track the implementation and impact of the Charitable Choice provision of the 1996 federal welfare reform law. Following his term in the White House, he returned to the Center for Public Justice as the Director of Faith-based Policy Studies.

Carlson-Thies received the William Bentley Ball Life and Religious Liberty Defense Award from the Center for Law and Religious Freedom and the Christian Legal Society in October 2004. He was named as one of twelve advocates who are “reinterpreting God and country” by the National Journal in May 2004. He holds a doctorate in political science from the University of Toronto. His dissertation is on the role of Protestants and Catholics in the development of Dutch politics in the 19th and 20th centuries. Besides the United States, he has lived in Canada, the Netherlands, and Japan, where he was born of missionary parents.

His publications include:

Faith-Based Initiative 2.0: The Bush Faith-Based and Community Initiative” (Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, vol. 32, no. 3 (Summer 2009), pp. 931-947.

The Faith-Based Initiative: Both Cause of Contention and the Solution to an Impasse?” Journal of Ecumenical Studies, April, 2009)

Why Should Washington, DC, Listen to Rome and Geneva About Public Policy for Civil Society?” in Jeanne Heffernan Schindler, ed., Christianity and Civil Society (Lexington Books, 2008)

“Bringing Religion Back In: Using Public Policy to Promote Faith-Based Action Against Urban Poverty,” Universitair Centrum Sint-Ignatius Antwerpen Dialogue Series 11 (2008)

The Paradoxical Role of Faith in the Faith-Based and Community Initiative,” in Not by Faith or Government Alone: Rethinking the Role of Faith-Based Organizations, Baylor ISR Special Research Report, Byron Johnson, ed. (Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion, June 2008)

“David Kuo’s Temptations,” review of David Kuo, Tempting Faith (Free Press, 2006) at, Oct. 14, 2006.

“Coming Face to Face with Faith-Based Funding,” Church Executive.

Implementing the Faith-Based Initiative,” The Public Interest, no. 155 (Spring 2004)

The Freedom of Faith-Based Organizations to Staff on a Religious Basis, with Carl Esbeck and Ron Sider (Center for Public Justice, 2004)

Revolution of Compassion: Faith-Based Groups as Full Partners in Fighting America’s Social Problems, with Dave Donaldson (Baker Books, 2003)

Charitable Choice: Bringing Religion Back into American Welfare,” in H. Heclo and W. McClay, eds., Religion Returns to the Public Square: Faith and Policy in America (Woodrow Wilson Center and Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003)

Charitable Choice for Welfare & Community Services: An Implementation Guide for State, Local, and Federal Officials (Center for Public Justice, 2000)