Faith Digest: Religious giving down as philanthropy improves

Faith Digest: Religious giving down as philanthropy improves

The new Giving USA report shows a slight downturn for churches and other religious organizations against an improving charity landscape. American individuals, groups, foundations and corporations gave $335 billion in 2013—a 3 percent increase from 2012, adjusted for inflation. It’s the fourth consecutive year in which giving rose after taking a beating during the recession that officially ended in 2009. But religious groups saw donations drop 1.6 percent from 2012 to 2013. That contrasts to healthy jumps in education (7.4 percent), the arts and humanities (6.3 percent) and environmental and animal groups (6 percent), according to the study, which Giving USA produced with the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. Still, the religious sector continues to collect a greater proportion of total charitable giving—31 percent—than any other, the report shows. The next-largest share of the philanthropic pie went to education, with 16 percent of donors’ dollars. The Giving USA study drew on many government and private groups for data, including the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Census Bureau.

Many Americans don’t want atheist in-laws. A new Pew Research survey shows Americans divided when someone in the family picks a nonbeliever to marry. Atheists are the most unwanted future relative, by far. Nearly half—49 percent—of Americans say they would be unhappy if a member of their immediate family picked an unbeliever for a spouse. atheist inlaws425Respondents most likely to be upset are Americans who identify themselves as “consistently conservative” (73 percent); Protestants (64 percent), including 77 percent of white non-Hispanic evangelical Protestants; Republicans or those who lean that way (59 percent); and Roman Catholics (55 percent). By contrast, only 9 percent overall said they would be upset by the prospect of a relative wedding a “born again” Christian. The questions were part of a comprehensive look at polarization in U.S. society. The overall survey, conducted from January through March 2014, was of 10,013 people, but only about a third were asked the marriage questions. The margin of error for that portion of the survey is plus or minus 2 percentage points.

Regional UCC votes to boycott Redskins. The United Church of Christ for the mid-Atlantic region passed a resolution asking its 40,000 members not to buy game tickets or wear any souvenir gear of the Washington NFL club until it changes its embattled team name.The resolution, which also calls on the team to change its name and refrain from using American Indian imagery, passed unanimously at the UCC’s Central Atlantic Conference in Dover, Del. The UCC has nearly 1 million members nationwide and more than 5,100 congregations, including 185 in its mid-Atlantic region of Washington, D.C., Maryland, New Jersey, Delaware and parts of Virginia and West Virginia. The Protestant denomination is headquartered in Cleveland and has been active in protests against the Cleveland Indians’ Chief Wahoo mascot.

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