Given the weak consideration of religion within development studies and policy, it is not surprising that FBOs themselves have long been invisible in discussions of community development (Marshall and Van Saanen, 2007). This apparent invisibility should not be mistaken for non-existence. More correctly, their invisibility reflects a blindness of the development sector itself in failing to recognize the importance of religion within its area of concern and its tendency to recognize and work with only non-governmental organizations that take a familiar form and operate in familiar ways, often because they have been created in response to donor agendas. Religious organizations, in contrast, may choose to position themselves outside the development sector when working to improve the material lives of their congregations and others. In addition, FBOs are often locally initiated and run, embedded within communities and raise much of their funding from members of the faith body (G. Clarke, 2008). More recently, however, the presence of FBOs in community development work is gradually becoming recognized. Moreover, there has been recognition both within the development sector and by FBOs themselves that not only is it important but also there is synergy to be gained by being aware of one another and incorporating an understanding of religion more purposely into the development domain (Harb, 2008).
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