A new online survey has found that Jews and Muslims in the United States, on average, claim to spend twice as much money each year participating in and donating to their respective religions than Christians but are more likely to distance themselves from their religions because of it.
LendEDU, an organization that runs an online marketplace for student loan refinancing, released a new survey conducted by Pollfish.com last Friday on "finance and religion" that featured data from hundreds of religiously affiliated Americans who indicated that they had contributed financially to their religions.
To be included in the research, respondents had to be either Christian, Muslim or Jewish. The survey data reflects the responses of 275 self-identifying Jews, 275 self-identifying Christians and 275 self-identifying Muslims who were interviewed between Nov. 20 and Nov. 21.
The first question in the survey asks: "On average, what is the yearly monetary value of your donations to your religion?"
Jewish respondents produced the highest average of $1,442.91, while Muslim respondents averaged $1,309.23. Meanwhile, Christian respondents averaged around $500 less at $817.42 per year in donations.
The survey's second question asked respondents how much they spend on average each year for just "participating in your religion."
The costs of Muslim participants in the survey averaged $1,313.26 per year and Jewish respondents averaged $1,181.78 per year just for participating. Christian respondents averaged about $800 per-year less with a $335.08 average for religious participation.
The data indicates that while Muslim and Jewish respondents claim to spend an average of over $2,600 per year on religious participation and religious monetary donations, Christian respondents averaged less than half of that with an average of $1,152.51 per year.
"Our survey ultimately revealed that the average respondent reported spending $2,134.42 per year on his or her respective religion," the LendEDU report states. "This total yearly cost is a summary of yearly monetary donations and yearly costs to participate, excluding monetary donations. Jewish respondents reported the highest yearly cost, spending $2,624.69 per year on average. Christian respondents reported the lowest yearly cost, spending $1,152.51 per year on average."
With Christian respondents spending about half as much each year on religion than Muslim and Jewish respondents, it should be noted that Christians make up about 70 percent of the U.S. population, according to Pew's Religious Landscape Study. Meanwhile, Jews make up less than two percent of the U.S. population and Muslims make up less than 1 percent of the U.S. population, which could potentially play a factor into survey results.
Additionally, there is no indication of the average age of each of the three religious subgroups.
The survey also asked respondents if they report their religious donations as a tax write off.
Jewish respondents were most likely to admit that they had reported their donations on their tax returns (47.64 percent), while Christian respondents were most likely to say that they do not claim their religious donations on their taxes (63.64 percent).
Fifty-five percent of Muslims also said they do not write off their religious donations on their taxes, while 35.6 percent percent of Muslim respondents admitted that they had. About 8 percent of Muslims did not answer that question.
The survey also asked respondents what limitations may have prevented them from donating more to their religions.
The most common answer in all three groups was "Income Limitations," while the second most common response was "I already donate as much as I can."
Over 15 percent of Muslim respondents said that "donating to my religion is not a top financial priority," while about 10 percent of Christian and Jewish respondents had said the same.
The data shows that just over 26 percent of Jewish respondents and over 25 percent of Muslim respondents said "yes" when asked if they ever distanced themselves from their religion due to the financial cost of practicing? Only about 16 percent of Christian respondents said "yes" to that question.
Jewish respondents were the most likely to say that they had considered switching their religion due to the financial cost of practicing their religion, with over 24 percent of Jewish respondents answering "yes" to question No. 8 in the survey.
As for Muslim respondents, 21 percent of them said they had considered changing their religion due to the cost of religion. Only 11 percent of Christian respondents said they have considered changing their religion because of the cost.
According to the data, Christian respondents were less likely to feel pressured by their peers and religious leaders to make donations.
About 24 percent of Christian respondents said they have been pressured by their peers to make a donation, compared to the 40 percent of Jewish respondents and and 36 percent of Muslim respondents.
Additionally, about 25 percent of Christian respondents said they have felt pressured by religious leaders to donate while 36 percent of Jewish respondents and over 32 percent of Muslim respondents said the same.
When asked if they feel that members of their religion are treated differently "depending on their regular donation amounts," 38 percent of Jewish respondents and 36 percent of Muslim respondents said "yes." Only 24 percent of Christians also said "yes" to that question.
Jewish respondents were most likely to say that they considered switching their religion due to pressure from others to make a monetary donation (28 percent). About 17 percent of Christian respondents said the same.
As for Muslims, over 26 percent of respondents said they considered switching their religion because of pressures to donate.
An identical percentage of Jewish and Muslim respondents (26 percent) said that they think monetary donations should be a requirement to join their religion. Only about 10 percent of Christians agreed with that idea.
It should be noted that the results of this survey are based on the information provided by the respondents and on the respondents' personal identification as a member of one of the three religions who donates financially. The sample may or may not accurately reflect the reality of those religious populations in the U.S. as a whole.