In exploring the reaction to the consistent findings that conservatives are more charitable, one cannot help but chuckle at the left’s inability to accept the facts. In Dec. 2008, Ezra Klein attempted to dismantle Brooks’ findings. In addressing religiosity, Klein wrote, “A recent survey from Google similarly found that self-identified conservatives gave more to charity than did self-identified liberals. But they also found that ‘if donations to all religious organizations are excluded, liberals give slightly more to charity than conservatives do.’”
Klein goes on to question whether religious giving constitutes a “membership fee” of sorts. If more non-religious individuals on the left spent time working with churches and faith-based non-profits they’d realize that the vast majority serve populations in need and do, in fact, work in the charity realm. Dismissing all donations to “religious organizations” would be silly, as it would literally ignore an insanely large portion of the charity work that is conducted (and funded by conservatives) in America and beyond. During such difficult economic times, many of these charities are very literally preventing families from plunging into the abyss of poverty. Perhaps Klein’s most intriguing quip was, “Saying that conservatives give more to charity is another way of saying that conservatives are more religious.” How does one even begin to argue with that logic?
In a separate report for the Hoover Institution, Brooks explains that religious individuals are more likely (25 percentage points) than secular persons to give monies and 23 points “…more likely to volunteer time.” So, even if Klein’s downplay-religious-giving theory held, plenty of evidence shows that conservatives are more apt than liberals to, at the least, give their time.
Interestingly, Nicholas Kristof (a self-described liberal) of The New York Times wrote on this same subject back in 2008. Unlike others on the left who sought to dismiss Brooks’ data, Kristof wrote, “We liberals are personally stingy.” Kristof went on to cover other research that backs up Brooks’ findings. According to Kristof, “The ‘generosity index’ from the Catalogue for Philanthropy typically finds that red states are the most likely to give to nonprofits, while Northeastern states are least likely to do so.”
True charity starts at home. It’s one thing to advocate spending tax-payer dollars to solve social problems, but it’s an entirely different (and, in my opinion, more noble) beast to invest oneself in a cause, both through financial investment and volunteerism. While conservatives tend to oppose some social programs that will add to yearly deficits and, subsequently, the national debt, they are the most apt to personally involve themselves in fixing social problems. At a time when local, state and federal budgets are beyond strapped, we should at least credit conservatives for investing in America’s future.
Billy Hallowell is a journalist and commentator who focuses on faith, media and society. Through journalism, media, public speaking appearances and the blogosphere, Hallowell has worked for more than a decade to inspire and motivate his generation. He has been published and featured in political and cultural books, textbooks, articles and Web sites that focus on the youth of America and its role in the future of our world.