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
RecommendedA Survey Can Make You Less Moral
A Survey Can Make You Less Moral
What behavioral economics has to do with scary statistics.
TrendingA Decision in Ferguson: How Should Evangelicals Respond?
A Decision in Ferguson: How Should Evangelicals Respond?
The grand jury has made a decision in Ferguson, now we have to make ours. How will we respond?
Editor's PickAmerica the Beautiful, America the Violent
America the Beautiful, America the Violent
Ferguson may be about race, but it is also about violence. And we should have something to say about both.
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.