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Author Topic: Charity in the United States  (Read 820 times)

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Offline JudeTopic starter

Charity in the United States
« on: November 02, 2009, 04:29:54 PM »
There's a couple issues I want to raise, first starting with the idea that people who are religious are "charitable" than those who are not, a couple of statistics:

Quote from: wikipedia
A 2007 study by The Barna Group found that “active-faith” individuals gave on average $1,500 in 2006, while “no-faith” individuals gave on average $200. “Active-faith” adults gave twice as much to non-church-related charities as “no-faith” individuals.
I know what you're thinking, wow, non-religious people are doing a really poor job of donating to charity even when it comes to donating to "true charities" which have nothing to do with their religious causes.  It appears that way, but then look at this:

Quote from: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Consumer Expenditure Survey, 2005 Cash Contributions for Charitable Giving by Age
In 2005, people in the 65-74 years age bracket gave the most dollars to charitable contributions. The people in the 75 years and older age bracket gave the highest portion of income.  Percent of total income given by age:
All consumers    Under 25    25-34    35-44    45-54      55-64    65-74    75+
1.7%     0.7%     1.2%     1.4%     1.6%     2.1%     3.0%     3.7%
Why is this relevant?

Quote from: Gallup
I think this collection of statistics shows that it isn't that the religious are more likely to give more of their income.  It's simply that the Elderly give the most, the Elderly tend to be predominantly religious, and so the numbers are inflated in favor of the religious.  I think the only way it can be proven that the religious are more charitable is if they did an age bracket by age bracket comparison of those who are not religious and those who were to get rid of the back-loaded magnifying effect.

The other issue I wanted to discuss was this notion of having giving to religious organizations be considered "charitable contributions."  If when the offering plate is passed by Sunday morning, why should you be able to write it off on your taxes if you toss some money in?  You're paying for the services to support your religious organization.  It makes absolutely no sense to me why you should be able to get a tax break for that.

This also ties into politics in the United States.  Conservatives love to use that they give more to charity than Liberals in various arguments about the Welfare State.  The statistics are, again, skewed because conservatives tend to be religious (which means their contributions to their churches count) and older (which means they're in the more 'comfortable' giving bracket).



EDIT:  For the sake of a summary, let me state my argument, I think it'll make my logic a bit clearer:

The information states that if you take the average amount given to secular charities by the religious and the average amount given to secular charities by the non-religious, the amount given by the religious is more.  I contend that this has to do with the fact that the religious tend to belong in greater numbers to portions of the populace that are in a position to give more money and has nothing to do with generosity.

I think if they did where the average non-religious individual in each age bracket was compared to the average religious individual, then we'd have an idea.  The problem is the religious population is more densely packed in the age groups that naturally give more and the non-religious population is more densely packed in the groups that give less.  That's going to mess up the results.
« Last Edit: November 02, 2009, 04:59:06 PM by Jude »

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Charity in the United States
« Reply #1 on: November 02, 2009, 05:03:22 PM »
That is a good point Jude.  A larger portion of elderly people do give money to charitable organizations than any other age bracket.  This might indeed show a skew and is certainly worthy of more investigation, which is about all the data shows though.  There is certainly room to improve the data to reflect charitable contributions by age group while also examining the variable of religious involvement.  There is still a 1,300 dollar disparity to be accounted for there among a bracket simply titled, “adults” by the poll takers.  That is an average per person.

While the elderly do inflate the number of “religious” members, they are also among the poorest.  Elderly people may contribute more of their income than others, but their income is also sharply decreased than the majority of the population.  So a 1,300 dollar difference relying solely on their presence is a little hard to swallow.

Offline JudeTopic starter

Re: Charity in the United States
« Reply #2 on: November 02, 2009, 05:08:03 PM »
You're right that this doesn't prove anything, it's entirely possible that the religious do give more (in which instance I have to get on the case of the non-religious).  I'm just saying, it hasn't really been show, the statistics have flaws.

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Charity in the United States
« Reply #3 on: November 02, 2009, 05:41:03 PM »
As a whole though they do give more.  1,500 dollars versus 200 dollars is a large enough difference to justify that statement.

Offline September

Re: Charity in the United States
« Reply #4 on: November 02, 2009, 06:59:22 PM »



Yep, no connection here, just move along people

Offline JudeTopic starter

Re: Charity in the United States
« Reply #5 on: November 02, 2009, 07:15:29 PM »
The above information fails to address the "religion as charity" problem.  There are also a number of other problems with it.

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Re: Charity in the United States
« Reply #6 on: November 02, 2009, 07:18:22 PM »
Yep, no connection here, just move along people

There'd be no need to try and make ammends for it if they'd just listened and not voted him in in the first place.

The rest of us appreciate the sentiment though.

 ;)

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: Charity in the United States
« Reply #7 on: November 02, 2009, 08:27:55 PM »
There'd be no need to try and make ammends for it if they'd just listened and not voted him in in the first place.

The rest of us appreciate the sentiment though.

 ;)

Actually I think it's more of a charity as good acts one does to one another's neighbors. 'Do unto others as you would have them do to you' and so on.


Offline Vekseid

Re: Charity in the United States
« Reply #8 on: November 02, 2009, 11:37:56 PM »
Religious institutions are powerful drivers of charity. Though I'd wonder how that map would look if you included the net transfer of earmarks. California gives the government something like 20 billion more than it gets back, etc.