Reflecting on Religion and Philanthropy

Giving to religion makes up a third of all giving in America, and over half of all Americans say their religious or spiritual values motivate their philanthropic giving. If this is the case, why do religion and money remain such taboo topics in our society?

The full philanthropic impact of religious communities goes far beyond finances. The story of religious philanthropy speaks to when, why, and how religious institutions engage their broader communities in volunteering, advocacy, and cultivating a civil society.

Is philanthropy primarily meant to take care of those within one’s own community or the larger society? Does philanthropy provide for basic needs or promote institutional change? Should religious giving develop an individual’s character or shape the morality of society, or are such purposes off limits in a pluralist society?

Two leading historians will share their reflections on what we can learn from the intersections of religion and philanthropy in the past and what issues might define the topic into the future: Jim Hudnut Buemler, Anne Potter Wilson Distinguished Professor of American Religious History at Vanderbilt University, and David Hammack, Hiram C. Haydn Professor of History at Case Western University. The event will be moderated by David P. King and Philip Goff.

This public talk will be held on Thursday, May 17, at 5:30pm, at the Damenvervein Room of the Athenaeum, 410 E. Michigan Street.