Friday, September 29, 2006

9/11, the Spiritual Climate, and Charity

September's just about over, but I still have time to squeeze in one more 9/11 reference. Here's an interesting article that looks at the effects that 9/11 has had on the spiritual climate in America. Research has found that, though church attendance rose significantly after the attacks, it has since leveled off. Despite the attendance numbers, studies show that Americans are continuing to grow more generous, with charitable giving rising 12 percent since 2001 ... Now, Americans are rather spiritual. Don't let the not-going-to-church thing fool you into thinking otherwise. It's like these researchers are saying, "Hey, only church-going folks give to charity, so what's going on here? What accounts for these numbers?" But is that really the case? I don't think so. And I don't think there is any true mystery behind the increase in charity. For one thing, since 2001, the world has experienced the December 2004 tsunami and Hurricane Katrina (2005). And people dug deep (monetarily and literally) to help out in both cases. For another thing, the research is only looking at giving as tied to a function of Christianity. But Christians are not the only people who do outreach work. They are probably the most recognized, but that is mainly due to societal conditioning. (This is not to say that Christian charities are unworthy of recognition. I'm just saying that there are lots of fine people out there, of all sorts of religious persuasions, who are doing good work and giving to charity). If there is a mystery to the numbers, I would say it lies in why the mainstream press does not do a study on Pagan, Buddhist, Heathen, etc. approaches to charity.

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