All that Tithing is Apparently Not Working…

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The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life has charted the income data of various religions in the USA, showing which religious traditions tend to be more affluent and which tend to be poorer (see the writeup in the NYT here).

Religious traditions income affluent poorer

Various religions graphed by percentage of college graduates and percentage with an income above $75k

As you can see from the chart, Reform Jews come out on top, closely followed by Hindus and then Conservative Jews and Anglicans. Jehovah’s Witnesses and Pentecostals are at the bottom of those listed. Not surprisingly, higher income numbers bear a pronounced positive correlation with higher percentages of college graduates. Also noteworthy is how those Christian traditions that tend to emphasize tithing to the church—and push that as a means to blessing—fall on the lower end of the income spectrum. Shocking, really.

Of course, that modern emphasis on tithing is just that—modern (as can be observed in George Müller’s teaching on giving).

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4 Comments. Leave new

  • If members of a faith strived to apply the Bible in their lives, would that not, in itself, put them at the low end of the spectrum? Any number of passages advise living simply. For example, from 1 Tim:

    “For we have brought nothing into the world, and neither can we carry anything out. So, having sustenance and covering, we shall be content with these things.”

    Reply
    • It wouldn’t necessarily put them at the low end of the income spectrum, no. I would hope it would put them at the low end of the extravagance spectrum, however. The point I was trying to make is that the rhetoric so often used in the calls to tithe is that if one tithes, God will give one more income in return, while the numbers show otherwise.

      Reply
  • What is missed here is the point of wealth as in quality of life over all. Most people are suffering from some kind of disfunction. Proper Tithing addresses the Spiritual, Mental and Physical side of our life! Result of which is a more fulfilling life.

    Reply
    • “Proper tithing” involves eating one’s tithe two out of every three years in a festive celebration (cf. Deut 12; Deut 14:22–29), so I do imagine that would at least confer some benefits in terms of those aspects. But that’s not what these modern Christian churches are teaching—they’re running with a 19th-Century innovation in which people are supposed to give 10% of their income to the church. (You may want to check my post on George Müller on Money and Giving for more on that.)

      Reply

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