Academic journal article Journal of Psychology and Theology

Sociology of Religion

Academic journal article Journal of Psychology and Theology

Sociology of Religion

Article excerpt

Many religious traditions teach individuals to give financially to the church. However, actual giving within the church varies across denominations and within individual churches. Studies have shown that Conservative and Evangelical Protestants give the highest amounts, whereas Mainline Protestants and Catholics have been shown to give at much lower levels. However, many individuals do not give at all. There are a number of possible explanations for these variations including available financial resources, parental influence, perceptions regarding others' need, guilt, and other obstacles. The authors define four possible groups of givers by their reasons to give. These are socialized giving, need giving, normative giving, and guilt giving. They also identify three obstacles to giving: wealth insecurity, giving illiteracy, and comfortable guilt. They sought to investigate motivations and obstades among individuals from different church contexts.

Phone surveys were conducted with all congregations located in three midsized cities. U.S. Census data was connected to congregational survey data through postal codes. Then they conducted in-person interviews with youth ministers from these congregations. Four congregations from these areas were selected, and then different church activities were observed. Content analysis was used to examine website information or printed materials from the churches. Finally, they interviewed individuals who attended the churches, as well as leaders within each congregation. Two of the four churches were used for the purposes of this study: a conservative Evangelical Protestant (EP) church and a Mainline Protestant (MP) church. …

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