Marvin Olasky

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Marvin Olasky

Marvin Olasky (born June 12, 1950) is a professor of journalism at the University of Texas, a leading conservative pundit, and the editor-in-chief of World magazine.

Born in Boston, Massachusetts into a Russian Jewish family, Olasky became an atheist at 14, shortly after being bar mitzvahed. In college, he discovered Communism and became a Communist in the early 1970s, after graduating from Yale University in 1971 with a B.A. degree in American Studies. By 1976, however, Olasky had become a born-again Christian, after questioning his atheism while reading Lenin and then the New Testament in Russian. Also in 1976, Olasky graduated with a Ph.D. in American Culture from the University of Michigan.

Olasky began working as a speechwriter and public affairs coordinator for DuPont in 1978, and in 1983, he began teaching journalism at the University of Texas, becoming a full professor in 1993. His initial writings gave him to opportunity to win funding from the Bradley Foundation in 1989, allowing Olasky to begin his most famous work, The Tragedy of American Compassion, which was first published in 1992. Coldly received at first, the book soon gained the endorsement of William Bennett and Newt Gingrich, who gave a copy to every incoming Republican freshman representative in the 1994 Congress. Critics called the book short on research and excessively reliant on anecdotal evidence, but supporters lauded it as a key work in defining "compassionate conservatism" as it relates to welfare and social policy. In it, Olasky argues that care for the poor must be the responsibility of private individuals and organizations, particularly the Christian church, instead of government programs like welfare. He suggests that government programs are ineffective because they are disconnected from the poor, while private charity has the power to change lives because it allows for a personal connection between the giver and the recipient.

In 1995, Olasky became an occasional advisor to then Texas gubernatorial candidate George W. Bush, who put some of Olasky's policy suggestions into action during his term as governor by encouraging the use of religious charities to solve social problems. Christian ministries were called in by the state government to help in a variety of ways, most notably with the rehabilitation of drug and alcohol abusers and the counseling of prisoners. Their disputable success led Bush to make faith-based programs a major component of his 2000 presidential campaign, and in 2001, Olasky saw the national implementation of his ideas when President Bush created the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.

In 1992, Olasky became an editor of World magazine, the fourth most read news weekly in the United States, for which he writes a weekly column and maintains the magazine's blog. His writing appeared regularly in the Austin American Statesman from 1996-2003, and occasionally in USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, and Investor's Business Daily. He is also a senior fellow at the Acton Institute and a prolific author on the topics of conservative social policy, American culture, and Christian journalism. In 1998, he was instrumental in the creation of the World Journalism Institute, an organization with the goal of training Christian journalists for positions at World and in the mainstream media.

Books

  • Corporate Public Relations: A New Historical Perspective (1987)
  • Turning Point: A Christian Worldview Declaration (1987, with Herbert Schlossberg)
  • Patterns of Corporate Philanthropy: Public Affairs Giving and the Forbes 100 (1987, foreword by Donald Rumsfeld)
  • Freedom, Justice and Hope: Toward a Strategy for the Poor and the Oppressed (1988, with Clark Pinnock, Herbert Schlossberg, and Pierre Berthoud)
  • Prodigal Press: The Anti-Christian Bias of American News Media (1988)
  • The Press and Abortion, 18381988 (1988)
  • Central Ideas in the Development of American Journalism (1991)
  • Patterns of Corporate Philanthropy: Funding False Compassion (1991, with Daniel T. Oliver and Robert V. Pambianco)
  • More Than Kindness: A Compassionate Approach to Crisis Childbearing (1992, with Susan Olasky)
  • The Tragedy of American Compassion (1992, later republished with an introduction by Charles Murray)
  • Abortion Rites: A Social History of Abortion in America (1992)
  • Patterns of Corporate Philanthropy: The Progressive Deception (1992, with Daniel T. Oliver and Stuart Nolan)
  • Philanthropically Correct: The Story of the Council on Foundations (1993)
  • Fighting for Liberty and Virtue: Political and Cultural Wars in Eighteenth-Century America (1995)
  • Telling the Truth: How to Revitalize Christian Journalism (1996)
  • Renewing American Compassion: How Compassion for the Needy Can Turn Ordinary Citizens into Heroes (1996)
  • Whirled Views: Tracking Today's Culture Storms (1997, with Joel Belz)
  • The American Leadership Tradition: Moral Vision from Washington to Clinton (1999)
  • Compassionate Conservatism: What it is, What it Does, and How it Can Transform America (2000, introduction by George W. Bush)
  • The American Leadership Tradition: The Inevitable Impact of a Leader's Faith on a Nation's Destiny (2000)
  • Standing for Christ in a Modern Babylon (2003)
  • The Religions Next Door: What We Need To Know About Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, And Islam - and What Reporters Are Missing (2004)
  • The Great Divide: The failure of Islam and the Triumph of the West (2004, with Alvin J. Schmidt)

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