The Charitable Consequences of Religious Belief

The latest issue of Books and Culture offers this intriguing write-up of Arthur C. Brooks’ Who Really Cares, which looks to be a rather provocative examination of the dynamics behind charitable giving in the United States. Here’s an excerpt of the review:

Drawing on some ten data sets, Brooks finds that religiosity is among the best predictors of charitable giving. Religious Americans are not only much more likely to give money and volunteer their time to religious and secular institutions, they are also more likely to provide aid to family members, return incorrect change, help a homeless person, and donate blood. In fact, despite expecting to find just the opposite, Brooks concluded, “I have never found a measurable way in which secularists are more charitable than religious people.”

I would hasten to add that Christians should resist the temptation to interpret Brooks’ findings as a reason to tout their moral superiority. To begin with, his study appears (judging from the review) to have focused on the broader category of religious belief rather than Christian faith specifically. And besides, it’s one thing to judge the Christian church’s charitable attitude in relation to secularists, it’s quite another to evaluate it from biblical perspective, a far more challenging standard. Nevertheless, Who Really Cares may offer one important response to those cultural observers who claim that the practical affect of religious belief is, if anything, decidedly negative.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>