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Depending on the religion, there's a word for that: hypocrite.
There have been a few studies coming out of Berkeley lately that cast a bad light on groups like the wealthy and the religious. I have not seen these results repeated at other universities. Curious, that..
I had no real use for religion until I got married. My wife had always tithed and, though we weren't going to church, she wanted to start donating to charity as part of our life together. I agreed and have found it to be an incredibly rewarding experience ... sometimes rewarding in ways that frankly have been somewhat shaking to my ingrained skepticism.
“I was interested to find that this experience – an atheist being strongly influenced by his emotions to show generosity to strangers – was replicated in three large, systematic studies,” Saslow said.
obviously this demonstrates that religious people are motivated out of fear of punishment, fear of their god's disapproval.
+Jack Thompson I certainly didn't mean to imply you couldn't. I consider myself "secular folk" too. I was just saying that making charity a priority came to me through a religious path, so I give religious people a little more latitude these days than I once did.
+Jeremy Faulkner I don't think that's necessarily an "obvious" conclusion from this particular study (though it may well be a true statement). The non-religious people seem to be motivated by emotional appeals, but it's less clear what exactly is motivating the religious people. To consider one more favorable interpretation, the non-religious person has to feel a personal connection in order to be motivated to help, but the religious person doesn't, it seems. In a sense, this could be seen as an even greater act of generosity, because it isn't just an immediate emotional response.
Interesting and suggestive but much more precise research is needed before any conclusion can be drawn about the degree to which religious faith affects compassion. A study where participants self identify the degree of their religious faith should not be expected to be that accurate. Also there could be a difference in interpretation of results between researchers who themselves are religious and those who are not.

There is a big difference between those who use following religious doctrine as their criteria for being highly religious, and those who consider the use of religious practices in their daily life, such as praying and reading the Bible.

Where a culture imposes religious faith on its population being highly religious may mean just following the law.

Where a person found religious faith as a result of a person crisis, their faith is more likely to be based on an emotional connection. The degree of their compassion more based on emotion.
The are supposed to be some very religious people down there in Rome :-(
I wonder to what extent an individual's personal reaction might be 'masked' by belonging to a larger social structure such as a religion and whether that may also be reflected in the social welfare systems of various countries. An individual living in a country with a strong social welfare system may consider the government to be able to take care of the need whereas in a more individualistic society the lack of support for the person in trouble may be recognized by the potential donor. It might be somewhat similar for the religious donor.
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