Less Religious States Give Less To Charity. Since I am not a religious person, I'll admit that headline bothered me a bit. Are less religious people really less caring about their fellow citizens who are hurting? I didn't think so, so I read the article.
It turns out that the parts of the country that are more religious do seem to give more to "charity" than do the states that are less religious, according to charitable deductions reported by the IRS. For instance, the less religious states of the Northeast gave an average of 4.1% of their discretionary income to charities while the more religious states in the South gave an average of 5.2% of their discretionary income. And the state of Utah gave the most, coming in at about 10.6% of discretionary income.
That last statistic, the one from Utah, should give you a real clue as to what is going on here. The mormon church demands a tithe of 10% from its members -- and this survey of "charitable" giving includes money given to churches. Once you know that, it only makes sense that the more religious states would be giving more. They are not giving more to real charities, but to the churches they attend.
This brings up a question -- are churches really charities, or are they businesses supporting a religious view? I know some of you will chime in that churches do charitable work in the community, and I'll admit that some of them do some of that. But most of their money (listed in the survey as charitable giving) is not spent on real charitable efforts at all. It is spent on church salaries, church buildings, utilities for the church, missionary work, advertising, and church functions. That is not charitable spending, but spending to further the business of religion.
A real charity is one where almost all of the funds received are spent on charitable efforts -- like feeding the hungry, clothing and housing the poor, researching the causes of serious illnesses, providing help for the disabled, helping pay for medical treatment and medicines for those who cannot pay themselves, etc.
And by that standard, churches are not charities. They may (or may not) spend a little for charitable purposes, but the great bulk of their spending goes to promote their business -- religion. They have the right to spend their money any way they wish, but we should not be classifying the promoting of religion to be a charitable work.
I'll bet when you subtract giving to churches, the less religious states would be equal (or even ahead) of the more religious states in real charitable giving.