Passing the Plate: Why American Christians Dont Give Away More Money by Christian Smith

Passing the Plate: Why American Christians Dont Give Away More Money

byChristian Smith, Michael O. Emerson, Patricia Snell

Hardcover | October 15, 2008

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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 typicallyamounts, 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 preventionand 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 Christianpastors 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 bynonprofit 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 bettereducate 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.

About The Author

Christian Smith is a Professor of Sociology at Notre Dame University and Director at the Center for the Study of Religion and Society. Michael O. Emerson is a Professor of Sociology at Rice University. Patricia Snell is Programs and Research Specialist for the Center for the Study of Religion and Society at the University of Notre Dam...

Details & Specs

Title:Passing the Plate: Why American Christians Dont Give Away More MoneyFormat:HardcoverDimensions:240 pages, 9.25 × 6.13 × 0.98 inPublished:October 15, 2008Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195337115

ISBN - 13:9780195337112

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"Superb. Urgent. Well researched but highly readable. This book is a powerful summons to use our abundance to bless others. A must-read." --Ronald J. Sider, President, Evangelicals for Social Action "Americans are, supposedly, a generous people, and religiously active Americans are supposed to be among the most generous of the generous. These stereotypes are not entirely false, but sociologists Christian Smith and Michael Emerson want to register a dissent. Their patient and diligent research explores the troubling question why American Christians do not give MORE. Passing the Plate explores this unusually important subject with unusual depth, unusual clarity, and unusual insight." --Mark A. Noll, author of America's God: From Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln "Financial giving to churches and charitable organizations has been neglected by scholarly researchers and remains poorly understood. With characteristic clarity and empirical precision, Christian Smith and Michael O. Emerson have tackled one of the thorniest aspects of American Christians' behavior. I hope church leaders will read this fine book and find ways to incorporate its insights into their thinking about church finances. Scholars of religion and nonprofit organizations will benefit from it as well." --Robert Wuthnow, author of After the Baby Boomers: How Twenty- and Thirty-Somethings Are Shaping the Future of American Religion