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VALUES, RELIGION, ALTRUISM, and DRAWBACKS SECTION (VRADS)

ARNOVA's newest Section on Values, Religion, Altruism, and Drawbacks (VRADS) --- THE VALUES SECTION --- is making its debut at this 2008 Annual Conference. VRADS, or better known as the VALUES Section, seeks to provide a home within ARNOVA for those scholars of the Voluntary Nonprofit Sector (VNPS), broadly conceived, who are engaged in theoretical and/or empirical exploration of the role of values in the sector. Values can range from very beneficial, altruistic, and "good," to those forms that are harmful, self-serving, and "evil" at the other extreme.

We argue that altruistic values are one of the central driving forces behind much of the activity in the VNPS. Therefore it is essential that we understand the full spectrum of values, both positive and negative, and their religious or philosophical underpinnings. For this reason, we deliberately include Values, Religion and Altruism along with Drawbacks (or as some prefer, the "Dark Side") together as the foci of our new VALUES SECTION.

These focal values and related norms are often rooted in the beliefs/faith of religion and in religious ethics or morality of some kind. Such values are of special importance in the VNPS. Altruism is nearly always present to some degree. The beneficiaries of altruism can range from co-members of one's own VNPS group, in the most limiting case, to all of humanity, the planet and even the solar system or larger universe, in the broadest case.

These altruistic values or other positive, humane values of VNPS groups and individuals, however, can also have negative consequences. These negative outcomes can be unintended and occur despite the good intentions and positive core belief systems that underlie them. In other cases, publicly espoused values serve as the proverbial sheep's skin that hides the wolf underneath. And at the far "Dark Side" of the VNPS, there are some "deviant" nonprofit groups that directly seek outcomes that are clearly disapproved by many in their society.

Our consideration of deviant nonprofit groups demands that we attend to the various forms of deviance. On the one hand are those nonprofit groups that pursue harmful, even illegal actions. The Nazi Party in Germany (1921-1945) stands as an extreme example. Yet other deviant nonprofit groups have sought to expand human rights, human security, ecological balance, peace, and the like. They have mounted system challenges, sought positive social innovations, and pursued benefits for the public interest and for the general welfare, national or global, in the long run.

If you have any questions, please contact Chris Corbett, Secretary, at: chris_corbett1994@hotmail.com.