Decline in Giving to Religious Groups Borders on Trend

Study finds that Americans donated 1.9% of disposable income in 2011 -- almost equal to what Christians tithe today.

Religious groups still received more of the nearly $300 billion that Americans gave to charity in 2011 than any other sector, but continued declines in donations have giving experts on the alert for a trend.

More than 220,000 religious groups shared almost $96 billion (about one-third of total giving) last year, a decrease of 1.7 percent from 2010 in a year when giving to all other sectors rose except foundations (down 6.1 percent), according to a new report by Giving USA Foundation and the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University.

"Giving to religion ... is declining," said Thomas Mesaros, chairman of the Giving Institute, to Reuters. "It might be too soon to call the drops in this particular category a trend, but I think they bear watching."

Interestingly, the report found that American individuals gave (on average) 1.9 percent of their disposable income last year, almost equal to what American Christians tithe today. Such stats have led to debates over whether American evangelicals ...

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