Publication Date


Degree Program

Department of Sociology

Degree Type

Master of Arts in Sociology


As a society we often attribute our actions to our religious beliefs, or level of religiosity, and assume that those who are more religious often do more to help others in need. However, from a conflict theorist's perspective, these beliefs regarding religiosity could be viewed as a way to maintain control and promote solidarity among the masses, as exemplified by the comment of George H.W. Bush. This study, using the special topic module on volunteering and donating from the 1996 General Social Survey, examines this question to determine whether religion and volunteering and donating are related and whether the relationship is consistent when control variables are considered. Factorial analyses were completed using data from 2,904 respondents (N=2,904) to create a multidimensional scale measuring level of religiosity and scales measuring different aspects of volunteering and donating. Crosstab and correlation analyses were used to identify relationships between level of religiosity and the various scales measuring volunteering and donating, while regression methods were then utilized to determine the effect that level of religiosity and the identified control variables had on the relationships. The results of this study indicate that while religion is correlated with some aspects of volunteering and donating, it is a significant predictor of volunteering and donating only when those activities are religiously oriented. These results not only suggest that the common belief that highly religious people volunteer or donate more than those who are not may be false; they also suggest that comments such as the one by former President Bush are unfounded and create social barriers for a segment of the population based on moral judgments.



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