Naka, “The Spirit of Giving”

Tomomi Naka (2011) “The spirit of giving: Mennonite narratives about charitable contributionsCulture and Religion 12(3):317-338

Abstract: Many charitable contributions in the USA are religiously motivated. Based on an analysis of the discussions about charitable contributions among three Mennonite groups in south-central Pennsylvania, this article examines members’ complex decision-making processes about giving. Most recent studies of such donations among Christians emphasise the importance of a sense of sacrifice and the demonstration of one’s religious commitment through giving. This article, however, suggests that giving decisions cannot be fully understood without considering members’ pragmatic, but also sometimes conflictive views on appropriate religious contributions. The three groups in this article differ considerably in the ways in which their beliefs affect their decisions about contributions. While one group prioritises their immediate church community, another group emphasises systematic monetary contributions for evangelical activities and the third stresses the relationship between their financial decisions and the broader social and economic context in which church members are situated.