A Religious Liberal Blog

This site hopefully can provide some vehicle by which I can comment, complain, and once in a while praise the state of religion in this country and around the world from a liberal protestant perspective.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Liberals and Charity

This has gotten some press. A recent book has come out which argues that conservatives are more likely to give to charity than liberals. I haven't had a chance to read the book but some questions do come to mind.

It's quite possible to define the differences along religious lines. Liberals who identify as religious are more likely to give than secular liberals, but this is also the case with conservatives, where the religious among them give more than secular conservatives.

There could be any number of reasons, but I would think being part of a religious community that provides contexts to give is key. The percentage of folks who attend regular worship services (of any religion) and give is astonishingly high.

In my own town, much of the community resources that support the poor are sustained by mainline protestant and catholic churches; the food kitchen, the shelter, energy assistance programs, etc. Evangelical churches are largely not connected with this.

Does the book distinguishes money given to agencies that deal with poverty or does it deal with all charitable giving. Because it's quite possible to support one's own church, ones moose lodge, etc. without making a positive impact for the poor.

But for liberals, defensiveness shouldn't be the result of this book. Rather soul searching is required to examine what we could be doing more for the poor, for the marginalized in our own communities. God might be speaking, through such a book, to us.

And for conservatives, this shouldn't be a political zinger. There are dangers in charity such as the power one assumes over the one who receives, ignoring the importance of justice and supporting groups that benefit you rather than the poor and calling it charity.

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