What do secular humanists have in common with Christian giving?
The April 18th, 2010 Chronicle of Philanthropy reported on Dale McGowan on avowed secular humanist. In January 2010, McGowan started The Foundation Beyond Belief, a foundation whose goal is to spur giving among atheists and secular humanists.
Despite their $500K goal, the Foundation has raised only $12k to date.
Why did McGowan start the Foundation? He recognized that a substantial amount of giving is driven by religious giving. The article stated that in 2005, 72% of households with religious affiliation gave to charity. On the other hand, 56% of those without a religious affiliation did not give to charity.
In short, there is a strong and direct correlation between religion and giving. But in the past 10 years church attendance has dropped by 7%. With church attendance dropping, the potential for a crisis in giving is well on the horizon.
The article has profound implication. First, even the secular humanist world recognizes the power of religion and faith to drive giving. Second, the religious community needs to recognize the impending giving crisis unless the church fulfills its mandate of making disciples, including disciples who give.
William F. High is the President/General Counsel at Servant Christian Community Foundation. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.