Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sunday Faith Blog

The information below is the last part of THIS ARTICLE, entitled Are Americans Generous? Shattering the myth of American stinginess.  I encourage you to read that.  I publish here the part religion takes in American exceptionalism and I urge you to read it.

The Religious Factor

Why do Americans give so much more than Europeans? Recently, François Heisbourg, director of the Foundation for Strategic Research (a Parisian think tank), summarized the differences between Europeans and Americans: “The biblical references in politics, the division of the world between good and evil, these are things that [Europeans] simply don’t get. In a number of areas, it seems to me that we are no longer part of the same civilization.” According to a similar analysis in the New York Times by a former advisor to the late French President François Mitterand, “Europe defends a secular vision of the world,” whereas the United States has “an altogether biblical self-assurance in its transcendent destiny.”
It is simply undeniable that Europe and America are drifting apart culturally, and the drift is nowhere more evident than in the area of religious faith. The percentage of the population that has no religion (or never attends a house of worship) is higher in almost every European country than it is in America, and the percentage that goes to church every week is lower in most as well. In many cases, the differences are dramatic. For example, according to the ISSP data from 2002, a British citizen is three times as likely to be completely secular as an American (63 to 19 percent).

This divergence in religiosity may be one explanation for the huge trans-Atlantic charity gap, given what research has found about the way religious behavior affects American giving. For example, according to the Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey (a survey of about 30,000 Americans in 41 communities nationwide in the year 2000), Americans who attended their house of worship every week or more were 25 percentage points more likely to donate money to charity than secularists (people who never attended, or had no religion), and 23 points more likely to volunteer. Nor is this simply a matter of religious citizens giving to religious causes. Religious people were ten points more likely than secularists to give money to explicitly nonreligious charities and 21 points more likely to volunteer for secular causes. The value of the average religious household’s gifts to charity was more than three times higher than the average secular household’s.

This clear correlation between secularism and low rates of charity occurs across countries as well. The ISSP data tell us, for example, that 32 percent of Americans attended church regularly in 1998. The same year, 38 percent volunteered for nonreligious charities. Compare this with Germany, where 8 percent attended church and 10 percent volunteered for secular causes. Or Denmark, where 2 percent regularly attended church and 11 percent volunteered.

A precise way to compare religious participation and volunteering across nations is to look at individual citizens in each country. Holding constant the forces that are specific to each nation, as well as important sociodemographic characteristics, the relationship between religion and volunteering is quite large. For example, imagine two people from the same country who are identical with respect to age, sex, education, marital status, and income—but one is religious while the other is secular. The former will be 17 percentage points more likely than the latter to volunteer during a given year. And the impact of being both European and secular makes the difference explode. For example, take two people who are identical except that one is secular and Spanish while the other is religious and American. The secularist Spaniard will be an amazing 44 percentage points less likely to volunteer than the religious American.

In short, the most straightforward comparisons of giving and volunteering data in the United States and Europe support the stereotype of American generosity. Americans privately give and volunteer far more than Europeans do, and one likely reason for this difference is the dramatic gulf in religious participation we see opening between the United States and most of western Europe.

I am not arguing that one population—American or European—is inherently more virtuous than the other. Most of us have already made up our minds on that issue. Whatever our views, however, a full understanding of the evidence makes it clear that private charitable behavior is one way that Americans are truly exceptional.

Interesting, isn't it?   Think about giving to somebody today......someone you know needs help, or a charity you believe in could use an extra $20 or more........As most of you know, Mr. Z was from Germany and he could never say enough about the generosity of Americans, whether it's taking dinner to a sick mom's family in the neighborhood or donating millions to Haiti.

(thanks, Elmer's Brother!) xx


Brooke said...

Most Americans would give you the shirt off their back if they thought you really needed it.

Have a wonderful Sunday, Z!

WomanHonorThyself said...

how uplifting Z..heres a hugggggggggg! Have a beautiful Sunday my friend:)

Grace_ia said...

I have found that the more I give in money, time, effort, the more joy my life holds.

The more I give in all of those areas make me more aware of what I have been given. I thank God that I am able to give money, that I have health to give time and effort to a good cause.

I believe that God asked us to give not just to help those in need, but to help ourselves become more aware of Him and all He has already given to us.

Silverfiddle said...

In this country alone, the bible-thumping right gives more than the "compassionate" left!

One minor point in Europe's defense: In Germany (and I think other countries as well) the government takes charity from the citizens in the form of a tax and then hands it out.

There is a church tax that the government collects and then hands over to whatever denomination you designate. If you have no religious preference, you can designate the Red Cross or other secular organization.

Nonetheless, I agree with the post. Generally speaking, we in the US are optimistic and outward looking. Europeans tend towards a more crabbed view of the world and life.

Z said...

Brooke, that's absolutely true about most Americans; I'm glad you reminded us of that. xx

Hi, Angel....same to you!

Grace, thanks for coming by.
Many of the Scriptures I could have included re charity spoke of the reward we get in return which is true but I don't like to do things for what I can get back.
having said that, you put perfectly that point, absolutely beautifully, and I thank you for that wording which makes us see it's not just the material things we get back but SO much more!

Silverfiddle, this is one reason that secularists like to point to Europe as losing God. In Germany, one doesn't have to register as anything. If you say "nothing" on the form, you don't get taxed, So, even good church goers who can't afford the incredibly high tax (and it is HIGH) simply deny membership.
And yes, Europeans do have a more 'crabbed' outlook; good word!

Pris said...

I think because socialism is much more entrenched in Europe, and decries religion, it establishes that loyalty should be to the state first and foremost.

Whereas a people who are religious put God and their faith first, and in so doing, keep the faith by helping others as good faithful individuals.

When the government supplies most of the needs and wants of the people, it only makes sense the people will look to the government first.

It robs them of individual responsibility to be charitable, and to my mind makes people much more self indulgent.

Given this outlook, the people depend on the government to take care of what otherwise would be an individual choice to help where help is needed.

God fearing individuals are more likely to give of themselves, whether it be money, or their time.

IMO, This is why the left for the most part, is anti religion. Socialism or Marxism can't compete with God, so they will attack and insult religion, hoping over time, to rid our country of it's spiritual faith, and freedom to worship.

Z said...

Pris, I think you make an excellent point there.....absolutely true.
That's why the constant mocking of Christians and Jews, particularly if they believe that individual self-reliance is more important than the government nanny state....
I think the left feels they have to slam them to get them down, to finally finish them off and maybe they'll stop spreading that awful thought that humans have dignity and hard work and success fuel that dignity and a successful society.

sue hanes said...

Silverfiddle - I always say
Bible Beaters - and boy does that make my daughter mad.

Elmers Brother said...

I believe the left sees their taxes as a form of TITHE. They replaced the church with the government. Its why you see the likes of people like Al Gore who give very little to charity. Christians sometimes, in the cases of Mega churches have issues too. We worry more about paying the light bill and less about how we can help those who are hurting. Its why I believe in relational tithing.

Bob said...

Interesting post, Z, and great comments. Pris and ElBro may have the reasons for giving differences figured out.

I do believe the difference is related to culture. The word, giving, sums it up. In our culture we have always understood that giving is part of life, and it is expected.

The adherents of big government see paying taxes to take care of people as the measure of society, but I think the culture of giving is so much more powerful. We are empowered by the act of giving.

The act of giving is an act of free will. America has historically been about individual freedom and choice. This idea permeates our economic, political, and religious lives.

I think there is a big difference in results between being forced to pay taxes for charity, and freely giving to charities.

When the tsunami hit Indonesia, and various countries started pledging money to a relief effort, a Norwegian government official publicly stated that the United States should be ashamed for not pledging more than the amount the US government pledged.

After all the money was counted for Indonesian relief, the free citizens of the United States gave far more than the European countries combined.

I take a different view of general European attitudes and society than Silverfiddle and others, even though I have never been there. Some of those prigs are so full of themselves like the Norwegian official that there is only one word descriptive of their situation.

The Europeans are culturally constipated.

Elmers Brother said...

I agree Bob. Many of them are full of it.

Z said...

I'm not sure what to think about the left and giving; we know they've even made most Americans believe Republicans are the richer of the party and that's absolutely not true.
They seem to feel that our giving more and more in taxes is good for everyone but it reduces the buying power and independence of the successful, makes them feel it's not worth working that hard and teaches children that, too, and cripples those who get it. Obviously, I'm not talking about people in true need, which charities provide for, anyway, of course.

Sue, Silverfiddle IS a bible thumper ...I never use the term because secularists use it so disparaginly, nor would I use yours and wonder that you'd say it at all if it makes your daughter mad, as you say? She sounds like she's got really good character.

Bob, I like what you said; I think we're empowered by the act of giving, too.

Elbro...full of it is right:-)

christian soldier said...

the motto of the 1776 revolution-
No King but KING JESUS-

the french rev. was something like-
liberate-debauchery -
BIG difference---

America is great because America is Good-----Tocqueville-

Let's keep looking to the original intent of our Founding...


sue hanes said...

Z - Both of my daughters and their husbands - and their kids will follow I am sure - in their footsteps - are Faithful Readers of the Holy Bible.

I mean especially my one daughter lives daily and sometimes more often by the word.

I could not be happier that they do this. They are all wonderful people - strong in the Lord.

My use of Bible Beater came from I don't know where - and I would say it in a teasing way - but one day she called me on it and I could tell she was not happy.

So I have tried - pretty successfully - to remove that word from my vocabulary.

For me - eliminating 'namecalling' is something I work hard on not doing - but it is in my nature to think the things I say are 'cute'.

But I am working on it. %-(

Bob said...

Sue: The Bible Thumpers or Bible Beaters expression could have had its origin in the TV evangelists who, whhen making a point, would hold up a Bible, and slap it, hit it, or otherwise physically strike the Holy Book in their heated sermons.

I was raised in Southern Baptist churches, and I never questioned, or felt insulted, when being called a Bible Thumper. It was just descriptive of the normal Southern Baptist, hell-fire and brimstone sermon.

It was sometime later when these preachers all tried to look alike with the blow-dried hair look, as in Jim Baker and crowd.

I am a Methodist, now, which means I can have a beer with my pizza, and greet my fellow church members at the liquor store. Baptists are not allowed to do that.

Elmers Brother said...

You mean Southern Baptists aren't allowed to do that.

Z said...

Elbro and Bob...I think some Baptists do party.

Bob, I am offended by it only because the leftwing secularists snatched THUMPERS and made hay with's like BORN AGAIN is now an eye-rolling idiocy that Christians are slammed with when every single believing CHristian IS born again according to Scripture.
Even I used to say "No, thanks, I was born that way in the first place"...until I became a person of stronger faith and recognized what BORN AGAIN really meant and woke up to the fact that I hated the term back then because it was (and still is) a pejorative.
Same for EVANGELICALS...anybody who tells someone about the Gospel of Christ is evangelical...but the media's made it sound like evangelicals are a bunch of nuts who take the Bible to some extreme it couldn't dream of doing unless they changed the words :-)

Elmers Brother said...

I wasn't clear but that's what I meant. I grew up in am American Baptist church. Very liberal theologically.

Bob said...

Anybody who uses the words "born again Christian" as a perjorative is not only redundant, but ignorant.

Isn't that something like, "Jewish rabbi"?

sue hanes said...

Bob - I have never used the term Bible Thumper - and rarely have heard it.

I must have picked up Bible Beater somewhere.

But I thought I was clever in saying it to my daughter - until she 'corrected' me. When she does that on various things I finally get it and change my ways.

In no way was it meant as a put down as when I go to her house and see her very small Bible that is so beaten up from use - I am always amazed and happy that she does use it.

MK said...

Europeans are socialist in nature, and when socialists waffle on about sharing the wealth, social justice and all that, what they're really after is getting something, not giving anything.

Another reason is that because they are taxed pretty high, they don't have much left over to give away. That's the case for us down under as well.