Guest / Limited Access /
Who Volunteers the Most?

Religious Americans participate in charitable or volunteer organizations twice as much as do secular Americans. So says existing research. But a new study suggests that it's not people's religion that prompts them to become model volunteers, but which high school they attended.

According to Calvin College researchers Jonathan Hill and Kevin den Dulk, the type of high school people attend influences them more than any other factor—including religion, socioeconomic status, or family type.

What type makes the most difference? Their study, published this March in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, shows that graduates of Protestant high schools out-volunteer peers from Catholic, secular, public, and home schools—all by significant margins.

The "counterintuitive" findings (researchers expected homeschoolers to be on top) stayed consistent throughout all tests, den Dulk says.

"Educational setting," he said, has a value "beyond religious identity."

The problem is no one knows exactly why Protestant schooling predicts the likelihood of volunteering.

David Sikkink, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Notre Dame whose research has found similar results, believes that somehow teachers implant a sense of civic duty in students' minds.

Protestant schools tend to be strong communities where students get a sense of "collective identity," he said, "and they get practice committing to the common good of the institutions."

One possible explanation is the type of "opportunity structure" for community service that exists for graduates. Hill and den Dulk speculate that Protestant schools may provide better access ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedBob Jones University Apologizes for Failing Sexual Abuse Victims
Bob Jones University Apologizes for Failing Sexual Abuse Victims
(UPDATED) 300-page GRACE report recommends BJU impose 'corrective action' on chancellor Robert Jones III.
TrendingChristianity Today's 2015 Book Awards
Christianity Today's 2015 Book Awards
Our picks for the books most likely to shape evangelical life, thought, and culture.
Editor's PickJesus and 'Jingle Bell Rock'
Jesus and 'Jingle Bell Rock'
I’ve learned that there’s no dividing line between ‘American Christmas’ and ‘Christian Christmas.’
Comments
Christianity Today
Who Volunteers the Most?
hide thisMay May

In the Magazine

May 2013

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.