Christian SMITH, Michael O. EMERSON with Patricia SNELL, Passing the Plate: Why American Christians Don’t Give Away More Money. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008, pp. 270. ISBN 978-0-19-533711-2.
Reviewed by Anneris GORIS, La Esperanza, 502 West 165 Street, New York, New York 10032

The interesting and relevant topic of giving among American Christians is approached from a sociological perspective. Organized as a critical attempt to solve the riddle of why affluent Christians are remarkably ungenerous, this book explores different mechanisms that better explain the reasons for low levels of financial giving.

The authors reject selfish and greedy as a simplistic solution to the riddle because the complexities of human interactions, thinking and behavior are not taken into consideration. They turned to an examination of how different “social-psychological and institutional processes” operate to explain low levels of given, and differential giving behavior among American Christians.

Measuring giving was a fundamental challenge faced by these authors who employed their sociological creative imagination and ability to assemble data from diverse sources. It was pure art and science the way they were able to articulate the problem, construct measuring instruments and test several hypotheses central to the study. But their contribution goes even further. Their sociological investigation brings us closer to the scientific understanding of variables affecting giving behavior. American Christians are more likely to give when

This is a must read book for people in different fields: administration, agency, churches, charity, fundraising, philanthropy, giving in general, event planning, and data gathering techniques. It is writing for a diverse audience: it is easy to read, and hard to put down. This book can be a life saver for individuals involved in ministries different and event planning for religious institutions across-denominations.

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