Passing the Plate Why American Christians Don't Give Away More Money

ISBN-10: 0195337115

ISBN-13: 9780195337112

Edition: 2008

List price: $28.95
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Description: Passing the Plate shows that few American Christians donate generously to religious and charitable causes--a parsimony that seriously undermines the work of churches and ministries. Far from the 10 percent of one's income that tithing requires, American Christians' financial giving typically amounts, by some measures, to less than one percent of annual earnings. And a startling one out of five self-identified Christians gives nothing at all. This eye-opening book explores the reasons behind such ungenerous giving, the potential world-changing benefits of greater financial giving, and what can be done to improve matters. If American Christians gave more generously, say the authors, any number of worthy projects--from the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS to the promotion of inter-religious understanding to the upgrading of world missions--could be funded at astounding levels. Analyzing a wide range of social surveys and government and denominational statistical datasets and drawing on in-depth interviews with Christian pastors and church members in seven different states, the book identifies a crucial set of factors that appear to depress religious financial support--among them the powerful allure of a mass-consumerist culture and its impact on Americans' priorities, parishioners' suspicions of waste and abuse by nonprofit administrators, clergy hesitations to boldly ask for money, and the lack of structure and routine in the way most American Christians give away money. In their conclusion, the authors suggest practical steps that clergy and lay leaders might take to counteract these tendencies and better educate their congregations about the transformative effects of generous giving. By illuminating the social and psychological forces that shape charitable giving, Passing the Plate is sure to spark a much-needed debate on a critical issue.

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Book details

List price: $28.95
Copyright year: 2008
Publisher: Oxford University Press, Incorporated
Publication date: 9/29/2008
Binding: Hardcover
Pages: 240
Size: 6.25" wide x 9.25" long x 1.00" tall
Weight: 1.232
Language: English

Michael O. Emerson is Allyn and Gladys Cline Professor of Sociology and Co-Director of the Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Rice University. He is author or co-author of several books, including Divided By Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America, Transcending Racial Barriers, and Against All Odds: The Struggle for Racial Integration in Religious Organizations (NYU Press, 2005).

Christian Smith is the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Sociology and Director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Society at the University of Notre Dame. He is the author of many books, including Passing the Plate: Why American Christians Do Not Give Away More Money (OUP 2008); Soul Searching: the Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers (OUP 2005), Winner of the 2005 "Distinguished Book Award" from Christianity Today; and Moral, Believing Animals: Human Personhood and Culture (OUP 2003). Patricia Snell is Associate Director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Society at the University of Notre Dame.

The riddle of stingy Christian giving
Giving to change the world
Failed generosity
Toward explaining ungenerous giving
The view from pulpits and pews
A mental experiment in raised expectations
Conclusion
Christian church teachings on financial giving
Data sources used in analysis
Multivariate regressions on charitable giving
Notes
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