Study: Less religious states give less to charity; Utah is most generous state
Alan Wolfe, a political science professor at Boston College, said it's wrong to link a state's religious makeup with its generosity. People in less religious states are giving in a different way by being more willing to pay higher taxes so the government can equitably distribute superior benefits, Wolfe said. And the distribution is based purely on need, rather than religious affiliation or other variables, said Wolfe, also head of the college's Boisi Center for Religion and Public Life.
Wolfe said people in less religious states "view the tax money they're paying not as something that's forced upon them, but as a recognition that they belong with everyone else, that they're citizens in the common good. ... I think people here believe that when they pay their taxes, they're being altruistic."
When only secular gifts are counted, New York climbs from No. 18 to No. 2 in giving, and Pennsylvania rises from No. 40 to No. 4.
Among other notable findings of the study:
— People who earn $200,000 per year give a greater percentage to charity when they live in ZIP codes with fewer people who are as wealthy as they are.
— People who earn between $50,000 and $75,000 annually give a higher percentage of their income to charity (7.6 percent) than those who make $100,000 or more (4.2 percent).
Associated Press writers Lindsey Anderson and Rodrique Ngowi in Boston and Lynn DeBruin in Salt Lake City, Utah, contributed to this report.
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