If it’s Friday, HBO’s Bill Maher must be attacking conservatives as well as people of faith.
On the most recent installment of Real Time, the host did a lengthy segment accusing religious conservatives of being hypocrites saying, “There's always a good, moral, Christian reason to tell everyone you meet to f--k off and die” (video follows with transcript and commentary):
BILL MAHER: Now, I am sure there are millions of Christians who try to actually follow Jesus, but you've got to admit, conservatives always seem to have a reason why they would love to give but they just can't. “We would love to help the unemployed, but it would discourage working. I believe in charity just not for people who need it. Of course, we'd like it for everyone could see a doctor, we’re not monsters, but if the government does it, it will destroy our way of life. Plus the website is glitchy which leads to Stalinism. Oh sure, we’d like to help people who are starving, but what if they use the strength from not starving to take drugs?” Yes, there's always a good, moral, Christian reason to tell everyone you meet to fuck off and die.
So Maher thinks that because conservatives oppose higher taxes to support a larger government doling out more money to people in the society, that makes them uncharitable.
Of course, nothing can be further from the truth. Numerous studies have shown conservatives and people of faith to be far more charitable than liberals and atheists.
American Enterprise Institute's Arthur C. Brooks wrote in 2003 of data collected by The Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey and the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research:
The differences in charity between secular and religious people are dramatic. Religious people are 25 percentage points more likely than secularists to donate money (91 percent to 66 percent) and 23 points more likely to volunteer time (67 percent to 44 percent). And, consistent with the findings of other writers, these data show that practicing a religion is more important than the actual religion itself in predicting charitable behavior. For example, among those who attend worship services regularly, 92 percent of Protestants give charitably, compared with 91 percent of Catholics, 91 percent of Jews, and 89 percent from other religions. [...]
Note that neither political ideology nor income is responsible for much of the charitable differences between secular and religious people. For example, religious liberals are 19 points more likely than secular liberals to give to charity, while religious conservatives are 28 points more likely than secular conservatives to do so. In other words, religious conservatives (who give and volunteer at rates of 91 percent and 67 percent) appear to differ from secular liberals (who give and volunteer at rates of 72 percent and 52 percent) more due to religion than to politics. Similarly, giving differences do not disappear when income is neutralized.[...]
Charity differences between religious and secular people persist if we look at the actual amounts of donations and volunteering. Indeed, measures of the dollars given and occasions volunteered per year produce a yawning gap between the groups. The average annual giving among the religious is $2,210, whereas it is $642 among the secular. Similarly, religious people volunteer an average of 12 times per year, while secular people volunteer an average of 5.8 times. To put this into perspective, religious people are 33 percent of the population but make 52 percent of donations and 45 percent of times volunteered. Secular people are 26 percent of the population but contribute 13 percent of the dollars and 17 percent of the times volunteered.
Research by the Barna Group in 2007 confirmed Brooks's findings:
One of the most significant differences between active-faith and no-faith Americans is the cultural disengagement and sense of independence exhibited by atheists and agnostics in many areas of life. They are less likely than active-faith Americans to be registered to vote (78% versus 89%), to volunteer to help a non-church-related non-profit (20% versus 30%), to describe themselves as "active in the community" (41% versus 68%), and to personally help or serve a homeless or poor person (41% versus 61%). [...]
One of the outcomes of this profile - and one of the least favorable points of comparison for atheist and agnostic adults - is the paltry amount of money they donate to charitable causes. The typical no-faith American donated just $200 in 2006, which is more than seven times less than the amount contributed by the prototypical active-faith adult ($1500). Even when church-based giving is subtracted from the equation, active-faith adults donated twice as many dollars last year as did atheists and agnostics. In fact, while just 7% of active-faith adults failed to contribute any personal funds in 2006, that compares with 22% among the no-faith adults.
Harvard's Robert Putnam and Notre Dame's David Chapman wrote in 2010:
Compared with people who never attend worship services, those who attend weekly are more likely to volunteer in religious activities (no surprise there), but also for secular causes. The differences between religious and secular Americans can be dramatic. Forty percent of worship-attending Americans volunteer regularly to help the poor and elderly, compared with 15% of Americans who never attend services. Frequent-attenders are also more likely than the never-attenders to volunteer for school and youth programs (36% vs. 15%), a neighborhood or civic group (26% vs. 13%), and for health care (21% vs. 13%). The same is true for philanthropic giving; religious Americans give more money to secular causes than do secular Americans. And the list goes on, as it is true for good deeds such as helping someone find a job, donating blood, and spending time with someone who is feeling blue.
As such, Maher was once again 100 percent wrong.
Makes you wonder if he ever tires of it.