Just in time for the holidays, Susan Jacoby summarizes studies on secular versus religious donations to charities and recounts her own pledge to change the status quo:
The real giving difference between secularists and regular churchgoers comes from the fact that going to church establishes the habit of giving not only because of moral exhortations from the pulpit, but also because of social reinforcement from peers.
Secularism is not a religion, and it does not offer the community that churches offer members. This absence of community fosters a disconnect between proclaiming that one can be “good without God” and giving generously to help others. ... It does take conscious personal effort to make giving a habit rather than an undependable, occasional act. But all I have to say to other secularists is: Try it, you’ll like it. And since the proportion of secularists and the religiously unaffiliated is growing steadily in this country, the real point is that our fellow citizens, as well as people around the world, need our help.