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Religion and Charitable Financial Giving to Religious and Secular Causes: Does Political Ideology Matter?


Brandon Vaidyanathan, 810 Flanner Hall, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556. E-mail:


Previous research on charitable giving has identified a significant relationship between political conservatism and greater financial giving to charitable causes. Yet that research has not adequately explored the important role of religion in that relationship, nor differences in financial giving targets (i.e., religious congregations, noncongregational religious organizations, and nonreligious organizations). Support for competing theories concerning political ideology, religious practice, and charitable financial giving is assessed using data from the Panel Study on American Ethnicity and Religion (PS-ARE). For both religious and nonreligious giving, the effect of political ideology is completely mediated by participation in religious and civic practices. These findings support recent arguments on “practice theory” in cultural sociology and suggest that it is less the effect of ideology than of active participation in religious, political, and community organizations that explains Americans’ financial giving to religious and nonreligious organizations.