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More Evangelicals Donate Money Than 'Born-Again' Christians

It's tax day–and new research indicates that 79 percent of evangelicals could claim tax breaks for charitable giving.

When it comes to giving, evangelical Christians out-give their peers—both religious and non-religious—by significant margins, a new study from Barna suggests.

According to Barna, its research shows that more than 3 in 4 evangelical Christians (79 percent) contributed money to a charity or church last year. Meanwhile, only 1 percent of all evangelicals reported making no charitable contribution at all–much less than the national average (13 percent reported no giving) and the average for non-Christian faiths (27 percent reported no giving).

Barna also found that "evangelical Christians seem to be the most content financially (regardless of household income); they are more likely to feel they have more money than they need (14% compared to 6% or less in each other faith segment), and less likely to feel they are struggling."

But Barna also noted an interesting and "marked" difference between evangelical Christians and non-evangelical "born-again" Christians. "While 79% of evangelicals made a financial donation over the last year, 53% of non-evangelical born agains said the same," Barna reports. "The number of non-evangelical born again Christians who didn't make a donation matches the national average exactly (13%), compared to the only 1% of evangelicals."

In this case, definitions are key, and respondents had to meet some pretty strict criteria in order to be considered evangelical by Barna researchers. (See below for full definitions)

CT previously has reported on the topics of giving and tithing, including a recent spotlight on the causes and Christian ministries that are receiving the most financial contributions from evangelicals. CT also recently looked at whether or not it is stealing from one's church to split a tithe and give to charities, and whether or not American evangelicals are stingy.

Barna's definitions for "evangelicals" and "non-evangelical born-again Christians" are as follows:

"Evangelicals" meet the born again criteria (described below) plus seven other conditions. Those include saying their faith is very important in their life today; believing they have a personal responsibility to share their religious beliefs about Christ with non-Christians; believing that Satan exists; believing that eternal salvation is possible only through grace, not works; believing that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth; asserting that the Bible is accurate in all that it teaches; and describing God as the all-knowing, all-powerful, perfect deity who created the universe and still rules it today. Being classified as an evangelical is not dependent upon church attendance or the denominational affiliation of the church attended. Respondents were not asked to describe themselves as "evangelical."

"Non-evangelical born again Christians" are defined as people who said they have made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important in their life today and who also indicated they believe that when they die they will go to Heaven because they had confessed their sins and had accepted Jesus Christ as their savior. These adults are born again, but do not meet the additional evangelical criteria.

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