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Good deeds or tolerance

April 12, 2012

Be thankful for your churchgoing neighbors?

Religious Americans are more likely to participate in their communities than their secular counterparts, according to research from Harvard Professor Robert Putnam and Notre Dame Professor David E. Campbell.  Religious Americans are more likely to volunteer, give to charity, and do "more everyday good deeds," Putnam and Campbell have found; religious Americans are more likely to donate blood, give money to a homeless person, or help someone find a job.

Why? Because the strong friendships people make at church help root them in their communities. "Having religious friends is more important than simply having friends and being religious yourself," Putnam and Campell found-- one of many factoids from their 2010 book on the role of religion in American life, 'American Grace.'  

Although religious social networks help strengthen communities, there is a downside: "religious Americans are consistently less tolerant of dissent and less supportive of civil liberties than secular Americans," Putnam and Campbell found.

 

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