I was at a banquet recently with Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Christians and who knows who else to celebrate the role that faith has and is playing in Canadian society. I introduced myself to my tablemates as a Christian. Speakers made reference to how well we all co-exist, but a fellow at my table who is a very liberal Christian made the bald statement that “evangelicals are evil.” I was absolutely stunned! First that he would even say that aloud, especially at such an event. And secondly, that he was so absolutely sure of himself! That is the third time I’ve experienced something like this at a dinner meeting (the other two times involved secular liberals).
The current day contribution made by Evangelicals to Canadian society seems completely overlooked by the secular public. This is a brief post simply to show a side of evangelicals which the public doesn’t seem to be aware of. I’ll focus on just two contributions that relate to good citizenship. It would be nice if the non-religious could emulate these evangelical characteristics because then society would really have the means to make some great progress.
Evangelicals demonstrate the best civic spirit in Canada in terms of supporting the welfare of others and demonstrating compassion through personal involvement. The evidence is overwhelming.
Giving and Volunteering
- Christians are givers: Studies over the years1 consistently show that Canadians of faith who attend a place of worship once a week outgive and outvolunteer all others. (It should be noted that 88% of people claiming faith in Canada are Christian2 so most of these givers and volunteers will be Christians) In 2007, we gave to charity an average of $1,004 each, compared to those who attend less frequently or not at all who gave only $313. And those who give the most also volunteer the most.3
- This is true internationally as well: Two researchers reviewed 550 studies on charitable giving in several countries (including Canada) and report that “positive relationships between church membership, the frequency of church attendance and giving appear in almost all papers in which this relationship has been studied.4
- The Canadian Encyclopedia doesn’t identify its source, but does have the following information about evangelicals and giving: About 5% of Canadians belong to Evangelical denominations. Another 3% of mainline church members identify as Evangelicals. Thus, around 8% of Canadians are Evangelicals. When we turn from membership to attendance, a different picture emerges. On a normal Sunday 810 000 Canadians attend mainline churches while 1 016 000 Canadians attend Evangelical churches. The per capita giving for the following denominations is also revealing: Mainline Denominations: United Church of Canada ($283.04); Anglicans ($299.92); Presbyterians ($350) Evangelical Denominations: Associated Gospel Churches ($993.86); Baptist Union of Western Canada ($1100.57); Christian and Missionary Alliance ($1891.22).
- Evangelicals outgive all other Christians: The survey cited in footnote 1 tracks giving and volunteering by type of Christian, but only the 1997 data set has been analyzed this way for the public.5 Here’s how people gave in 1997 (as opposed to the 2007 numbers reported above):
- evangelical weekly attenders – $948 per year
- mainline Protestant weekly attenders – $752
- Roman Catholic weekly attenders – $300
- No religion – $126
The same survey showed that within the evangelical group, Pentecostals and Baptists outgave all others.
Other researchers have found the same ranking of generosity. The review of 550 studies mentioned above drew the conclusion that Protestants give more than Catholics, and conservative Protestants more than liberal Protestants. The researchers wrote that the more orthodox the belief, the more the contributions.
As for volunteering, Conservative Protestants (evangelicals) are twice as likely as the average Canadian to volunteer (60% vs 31%), and when they do, they volunteer 40% more hours per year.
- Christians outgive all others even in supporting secular charities: Since one would expect that church members would give to their own churches, researchers have looked at the relationship between religious involvement and giving to organizations other than the church. This is referred to as “secular giving,” and the common finding of these studies is that secular giving tends to be positively associated with religious affiliation and attendance.6
- Weekly attenders (who are mostly evangelicals) are also more likely to volunteer for secular charities than religious charities.
- Top donors have prosocial personality characteristics such as empathy, social responsibility and altruism.7 So who are the most prosocial people in Canada? This research would say, first Pentecostals and Baptists, then all other evangelicals, then other Christians and other people of faith, and finally at the bottom, those with no religion. I grant that there are some very generous people who have no religious faith, but they are the exception. The meta-analysis of 550 different studies on this issue supports that conclusion.8
So whether it is giving or volunteering, the surveys show evangelicals are highly desirable citizens on these scores.
Now, can we be more civil in our discussions with each other?
- General Social Survey – Giving, Volunteering, Participating. Statistics Canada. ↩
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_Canada ↩
- Turcotte, Martin. “Charitable Giving by Canadians.” Statistics Canada. April 16, 2012. http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/11-008-x/2012001/article/11637-eng.pdf. pp.22, 23 ↩
- Bekkers, René, and Pamala Wiepking. “Science of Generosity: Generosity and Philanthropy: A literature review.” 2007: p6. ↩
- http://files.efc-canada.net/min/rc/cft/V02I02/Evangelical_Giving_and_Volunteering.pdf ↩
- Bekkers and Wiepking. Who Gives: A literature review of predictors of Charitable Giving. 2011. p.6. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/228709185_Who_Gives_A_Literature_Review_of_Predictors_of_Charitable_Giving ↩
- Ibid ↩
- Ibid ↩