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Comments about ‘Utah top state for voluntarism seven years in a row’

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Published: Thursday, Dec. 13 2012 12:45 p.m. MST

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Lagomorph
Salt Lake City, UT

It would be handy if the story linked to the original report and data. They are available online.

Nearly 2/3rds (64.9%) of the Utah volunteer hours are for religious work. This is nearly double the national rate (34%). Most states are in the 30-45% range for religious volunteering (Minnesota was the only one I found in some random spot checking that exceeded 50%, and it was just a fraction over). It would be interesting to see how Utah compares to the rest of the country if religious voluntarism were excluded.

Most of the Utah religious voluntarism is inescapably LDS as a function of our demographics. Just wondering-- does all unpaid work for the LDS church count as volunteering? Can work be said to be truly voluntary if one is called to it by a higher [mortal] ecclesiastical authority and the work has a bearing on one's status in the church or one's eternal salvation? I'm not LDS and I don't know much about the church inner workings, but it seems like there can be tremendous social and organizational pressure to do some kinds of work, even if it is technically "voluntary." Someone please enlighten me.

War dog
Taylorsville, UT

People like you can't be enlightened, they find the negative in everything

Counter Intelligence
Salt Lake City, UT

Lagomorph
"Someone please enlighten me."

It's work
They don't get paid
ergo volunteer work

Ricardo Carvalho
Provo, UT

The tendency can be to discount volunteer work done for religious purposes. I, too, would like to know how the data shakes out without the religious factor built in. On the other hand, there is a tremendous amount of good that happens through these religious activities. To discount that would minimize the amount of good that is done in the state by volunteers.

Screwdriver
Casa Grande, AZ

Keep getting those kids up at 5am is all I can say. Good job.

Lagomorph
Salt Lake City, UT

War dog has read my post and from a scant 198 words has divined my character and found it, without any apparent irony, irredeemably focused on the negative.

Counter Intel: "They don't get paid"
That wasn't the point. The question was whether the any of the work was done as a condition to receive a tangible benefit, including nonpecuniary ones.

I recognize that the LDS church is a complex entity with a multitude of opportunities for service and a multitude of motivations for the people performing them. As a casual outside observer, I see the (conflicting) currents of obedience to authority and free agency running through the membership. My curiosity is largely prompted by that. What are the relative strengths of those currents? For example, one occasionally sees a story about a civic leader being called to serve in some faraway land. Can that person say "no, I don't want to uproot my life" without repercussions in this world or the next? Is work on a welfare farm voluntary if one receives food or other benefits in return?

My questions come from sincere curiosity and honest ignorance. I apologize if they offend anyone.

RedShirt
USS Enterprise, UT

To "Lagomorph" a civic leader could be called to serve in some far away land, and they could say "no" to that calling without any repercussions in this world. I don't know about the next.

Most people that work on the welfare farms do not receive any food or benefits outside of fresh air and exercise.

bcandersen
Pleasant Grove, UT

Lagomorph,

I think your questions are valid, and I apologize that anyone took offense to your question and answered so rudely.

It is true that there are "authoritative figures" who can make assignments. However, in each case they sit down with the individual and ask them if they are willing to put in the time and efforts to do so. Does that make sense? So in each case, they are volunteering their service.

Second, in regards to welfare farms or even LDS missions. These individuals are given the opportunity to serve in this capacity. In fact, to serve on the welfare farms or a mission, they in fact sustain themselves and pay for all of their needs.

I would also like to see this study without the religious service included. Interestingly enough, it is a principle that the LDS church, as well as many others I know, try to instill in its members-Serve on another. I would be interested to see if the service they are providing occurs outside of religious services.

Let me know if you have additional questions.

Lagomorph
Salt Lake City, UT

RedShirt & bcanderson: Thanks for your thoughtful replies. It sounds like membership status (i.e. recommend) is not conditional on service. Right?

RedShirt: Stay out of the transporter. It can't end well for you.

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