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Who Gives to the Poor? The Influence of Religious Tradition and Political Location on the Personal Generosity of Americans toward the Poor

Mark D. Regnerus, Christian Smith and David Sikkink
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion
Vol. 37, No. 3 (Sep., 1998), pp. 481-493
DOI: 10.2307/1388055
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1388055
Page Count: 13
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Who Gives to the Poor? The Influence of Religious Tradition and Political Location on the Personal Generosity of Americans toward the Poor
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Abstract

Americans vary widely in their ideas about causes of and solutions to poverty, and differ as well in what compassion to the poor should look like. Few researchers have examined the complex issue of compassion. Most who have suggest that conservative Protestantism has lagged behind Catholicism and more liberal Protestantism in "generosity" or "commitment" to the poor. This article examines the giving habits of Americans to organizations which help the poor and needy, using religious and political measures to test the conventional view that devout Catholics and liberal Protestants are the "friends of the poor," and that politically conservative Christians are indifferent or hostile toward them. The results suggest that religion and religiosity do increase giving to the poor, but that there is no support for the conventional wisdom about conservative Protestants. Indeed, the evidence suggests theological and political conservatives are currently more generous in this particular form of charitable giving.

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