Am I my brother’s keeper? Conservatives and churchgoers are far more likely to say “yes,” research shows. A major survey by the Chronicle of Philanthropy confirms that residents of states that lean Republican and are most religious donate more of their money to charity, while more secular regions — and areas that tend to vote Democrat — give less.
But researchers caution that churchgoers are no more generous than secular Americans when donations to religious groups are excluded.
The study, which examined Internal Revenue Service information from 2008, the most recent year for which statistics were available, ranked Utahans as the most charitable people in the U.S. Residents of the heavily Mormon state gave 10.6 percent of their discretionary income to philanthropic causes in 2008. Mississippi ranked second, with 7.2 percent going to charity. Three other states in the Bible Belt — Alabama, Tennessee and South Carolina — round out the top five.
Each of the top nine states in the Chronicle report voted for John McCain in the 2008 presidential election. The seven least-generous states went for Barack Obama.
New Hampshire residents gave the least, with 2.5 percent of discretionary income going to charity. It was followed by Maine, Vermont and Massachusetts, whose residents donated 2.8 percent. Residents of Rhode Island, the fifth most frugal state, gave 3.1 percent, according to the study.
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