Despite claims of secularists, religion makes for happier people

by | Aug. 18, 2011

What We Believe

For as long as I can remember, those who disagree with my fairly libertarian economic views have told me how much more they care about the poor than I do. And nonreligious people have assured me that, while I'm supposedly focused on some sort of illusory "pie in the sky when I die" and on "saving" others from mythical sufferings in a fairy-tale afterlife, they're devoted to making life in this world, on this planet, tangibly better for everybody.

In my particular case, the critics may be right. They're very likely far better people than I am — more charitable, kinder, more concerned for their fellow humans. However, unless they actually supply evidence to demonstrate it, Arthur C. Brooks' 2006 volume, "Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth about Compassionate Conservatism," has made it much, much harder for secularists to preen themselves, as a class, on their superior compassion.

Brooks, formerly a professor of public administration in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University in New York and now president of the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., has studied patterns in charitable giving and service for many years and is widely recognized as perhaps the pre-eminent authority on the subject. Still, he reports that even he has been surprised by what he has found.

Read the rest of this story at deseret.com
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