Well, The New York Times has put together this interesting graphic comparing, first, charitable giving by Romney, Newt Gingrich and President Obama. But the graphic goes beyond that to charitable giving by all Americans.
It turns out the when it comes to people of faith, Mormons pretty much beat everybody in giving, though one obvious reason may be that unless they tithe they aren't allowed to participate in certain temple rituals.
Just over one-third of the $291 billion Americans gave to charity in 2010 went to religious organizations.
What's interesting to me when you look into how various religious groups give is the poor record we mainline Protestants have.
My fellow Presbyterians, for instance, give (or at least in 2004, gave) 1.2 percent of gross household income. Lutherans and Jews did a little better and Pentecostals were giving and more than twice the rate of Presbyterians.
The Catholic rate of giving was listed a just 0.7 percent, but my guess is that doesn't reflect the considerable amount of money Catholics pay to send their children to Catholic schools.
Let's put the $291 billion charitable giving figure in a bit of perspective. In 2007, Americans lost -- lost -- $92 billion gambling. So essentially they threw away an amount equal to about 32 percent of what they gave to charity.
Maybe it's just a coincidence, but Americans spend more than $90 billion -- roughly the amount they lose gambling -- on alcohol each year. Another one-third the amount they give to charity.
Charitable giving increases in a culture of giving. When others are giving, in other words, it may be easier for us to give. We see that in Kansas City, which has developed a reputation for charitable giving, especially in the creation of foundations.
But somehow various religious groups haven't been able to encourage people to give not until it hurts but until it feels good.
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THE TROUBLES FACING MORMONISM
Even as Mormonism is getting lots of attention because of Mitt Romney's run for the White House and a recent Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life study of the religion, this report suggests that members are leaving the faith in droves. Faiths that can't accommodate developments and trends of the day -- accommodate, not accept, all trends -- ultimately decline. Not immediately, but ultimately. By the way, my friends over at ReadTheSpirit.com wrote here yesterday about Mormonism.