Thursday, June 05, 2008

More on religion and giving

Michael Kruse posted an interesting review of Who Really Cares by Arthur Brooks regarding Christian giving, and he wrote the following in a comment of a previous post of mine. As usual, Micheal is saying good things:

Arthur Brooks wrote: "First, imagine two people: One goes to church every week and strongly rejects the idea that it is government’s responsibility to redistribute income between people who have a lot of money and people who don’t. The other person never attends a house of worship, and strongly believes that the government should reduce income differences. Knowing only these things, the data tell us that the first person will be roughly twice as likely as the second to give money to charities in a given year, and will give away more than one hundred times as much money per year (as well as fifty times more to explicitly nonreligious causes).

Or take two other people who are identical with respect to household incomes, education, age, sex, and race. One receives assistance from the government in the form of housing support, welfare payments, or food stamps; does not belong to a house of worship; and is a single parent. The second is a working poor person (although his or her total household income is just as low as the first person’s, he or she does not receive government assistance), belongs to a house of worship, and is a married parent. According to the data, the second person will be, on average, more than seven times as likely to make a donation to charity each year." (10-11)

Michael Kruse wrote: "Brooks reports that the key indicator of giving is not political affliation but weekly attendance at worship. Conservative and liberal weekly attenders are the highest givers although conservatives give slightly more.

The thesis that conservatives are so other worldly they don't give doesn't hold up in his analysis. In fact, I'd suggest the operative issue might be that liberals believe it is government's role to provide for the poor so they don't believe they should have to give. Justice and benevolence toward the poor is expressed through collective taxation rather than personal giving."


Jay Livingston said...

My aging eyes salute your new font. This may be the first Brad Wright post that I don't have to hit "Ctrl +" to read. Congratulations.

Michael Kruse said...

Thanks for the link Brad. Some other very helpful insights were that the working poor were the most generous with their resources as a percentage of income. The wealthy were the next. The least generous folk were the non-working poor living on government assistance.

Still, breaking all this down by various demographics shows that the most generous give 2 or 3% of income. This is much higher than in Europe and many other places in the world. But is this sufficient for people who claim to be disciples of Jesus Christ? For most of us, I think not.