By Aaron Earls
A survey from Pew Research found a correlation between religiosity and giving of time and money to others.
Religious individuals are more likely to have volunteered and donated to the poor in the last week compared to the irreligious. Highly religious Christians are also more likely than other self-identified Christians.
A third (33 percent) of Americans say they volunteered in the past week. However, 35 percent of religious individuals volunteered versus 27 percent of the unaffiliated.
Much of the difference comes from church involvement. Twelve percent of Christians say they volunteered mainly through their church and 21 percent say it was primarily through another organization. For the religiously unaffiliated, 24 percent volunteered outside of a church and only 2 percent say they served mainly through a church.
While church participation provides a built-in advantage in opportunities for volunteering for the religious, a similar gap exists in donating to the poor.
More than half (52 percent) of Christians say they donated money, time, or goods to help the poor in the past week. Fewer than a third (31 percent) of the unaffiliated say the same.
The most giving were among the adherents of non-Christian faiths (56 percent), evangelical Christians (55 percent), Jews (54 percent), mainline Protestants (49 percent), and Catholics (49 percent).
Atheists and agnostics were the least likely to give overall. Only 28 percent of the irreligious say they helped the poor in the last seven days.
Among evangelicals, the more devoted are more likely to volunteer and give. The highly religious—defined by Pew as those who say they pray every day and go to religious services weekly—are much more likely to sacrifice time and money.
Sixty-five percent of highly religious evangelicals say they donated money, time, or goods to help the poor in the past week compared to 45 percent of other evangelicals.
When it comes to volunteering, 45 percent of highly religious evangelicals say they did that in the last seven days, while only 27 percent of other evangelicals say the same. The gap comes from serving in a church setting.
Almost a quarter (24 percent) of highly religious evangelicals volunteered through their church in the past week. Only 1 in 20 other evangelicals (5 percent) served in that way.
AARON EARLS (Aaron.Earls@Lifeway.com) is online editor of Facts & Trends.