A study just released by the Chronicle of Philanthropy tells us that people in religious states give a larger percentage of their discretionary income to charity than their less religious peers. The AP reports:
The study found that in the Northeast region, including New England, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York, people gave 4.1 percent of their discretionary income to charity. The percentage was 5.2 percent in the Southern states, a region from Texas east to Delaware and Florida, and including most of the so-called Bible Belt
It’s important to note the qualification that donations to religious institutions are included under the category of charitable giving in this survey. Perhaps not surprisingly, pious Mormon Utah gives the most. However, in other studies researchers have also found that the generosity of the religiously observant outstrips that of their peers even when it comes to giving to secular causes.Of course, secular taxpayers might say they are contributing to charity in a sense by paying taxes and supporting high-tax, high service governance, but a spirit of individual rather than government-coerced charity is a particularly American religious legacy. It’s also another reason to fear for the health of American democracy without the thriving of American religion.