America’s Wealthiest Religions?

An interestinginfographic circulating the Web has many people talking about the relationship between wealth and religion. The graphic, titled The Almighty Dollar, was created byGOOD and Column Five Media and breaks down income levels in the U.S. by religion.Datais based on information from the Pew Forum and it compares the income level of each religion to the national average. From the website: It’s no secret that the distribution of wealth is inequitable in the United States across racial, regional, and socio-economic groups. But there is a distinct variance among and within America’s faiths as well.

header_GOOD_ALMIGHTY_DOLLAR_R3.jpg

If you click on the image above, it will enlarge and you’ll see information broken down by several religious groups such as Jewish, Christian (divided into several groups), Buddhist, Mormon, Muslim etc. You’ll notice that Sikhism is not one of them (not sure why?). There are five income brackets (Less than $30,000 to $100,000+) listed and numbers signifying what percentage of each religious group falling into which income bracket.

43% and 46% of Hindus and Jews, respectively, fell into the $100,000+ income bracket while 8% and 9% of Christians (Historically Black Churches) and Jehovah’s Witnesses, respectively, fell into this same income bracket. Interestingly, Buddhists look to have the most equal distribution for each income bracket.

Many conversations on the internet have focused on the idea that immigrants make up a large portion of religious groups such as Hindus and Muslims. This is probably quite true. Individuals from these groups who are in the United States today, are probably more educated. The representation of these groups in this data sample is highly selective. Wealth is therefore probably more related to education rather than religion.

Other conversations suggest that those religious groups who have the lowest percentage in the $100,000+ also give the most money to their place of worship.

Having said that, what religious group’s distribution would Sikhs most likely follow? How would those individuals, who identify as Sikhs, be represented on this infographic?


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12 Responses to “America’s Wealthiest Religions?”

  1. sonny says:

    I just saw this the other day too and think it definitely has the potential to promote ahistorical, problematic assumptions on the surface. This correlation between religion and income, as you point out, clearly has a lot to do with education, and what that gets at is CLASS. and we have to look at who makes up these religious groups in the United States and how the got here (immigration histories). The majority of South Asians in the U.S., Indians especially, came soon after the 1965 change in immigration law where the US government was actively recruiting engineering and medical students, etc from the subcontinent to migrate here — people like my dad who already were well educated before they got here and by no means represent the average "Indian" or "Sikh" or in the case of this chart "Hindu" or "Muslim." My point is this chart tells us more about immigration history and patterns and the relationship between race and class in the U.S. than anything.

    • Kam says:

      Exactly. People commonly perceive South Asians as being smarter and harder workers, and perpetuate the model minority myth. What they don't realize is that US Immigration laws before the 60's were made in such a way that the only South Asian immigrants coming into the US were already highly educated (and often, if they were highly educated in India, they were most likely wealthy back home). This chart just reflects the income distribution of these exact immigrants and their offspring.

  2. sonny says:

    I just saw this the other day too and think it definitely has the potential to promote ahistorical, problematic assumptions on the surface. This correlation between religion and income, as you point out, clearly has a lot to do with education, and what that gets at is CLASS. and we have to look at who makes up these religious groups in the United States and how the got here (immigration histories). The majority of South Asians in the U.S., Indians especially, came soon after the 1965 change in immigration law where the US government was actively recruiting engineering and medical students, etc from the subcontinent to migrate here — people like my dad who already were well educated before they got here and by no means represent the average "Indian" or "Sikh" or in the case of this chart "Hindu" or "Muslim." My point is this chart tells us more about immigration history and patterns and the relationship between race and class in the U.S. than anything.

    • Kam says:

      Exactly. People commonly perceive South Asians as being smarter and harder workers, and perpetuate the model minority myth. What they don't realize is that US Immigration laws before the 60's were made in such a way that the only South Asian immigrants coming into the US were already highly educated (and often, if they were highly educated in India, they were most likely wealthy back home). This chart just reflects the income distribution of these exact immigrants and their offspring.

  3. Amit says:

    Does it really matter how much money a certain religion makes? If you really want to know why dont you hand out a census in local gurdawaras.

  4. Amit says:

    Does it really matter how much money a certain religion makes? If you really want to know why dont you hand out a census in local gurdawaras.

  5. Since the study deals with church denominations, suppose that a given organization actually applied thoughts such as that at 1 Tim 6:7-10?

    “For we have brought nothing into the world, and neither can we carry anything out. So, having sustenance and covering, we shall be content with these things. "

    I’m from one of the “lower performing” faiths, and we’re all the time striving to ’simplify’ our lives, in harmony with the above counsel. As individuals, we have many that would, in any case, be on the ‘less income’ level, but we also have many who have deliberately lowered their standards of living so that material things do not infringe upon spiritual values. Thus, the overall income level is skewed downward.

    Would that not be expected from people who actually applied the Bible’s counsel? Is it really so that any right-thinking person naturally strives to be as high up on the income ladder as possible?

  6. Since the study deals with church denominations, suppose that a given organization actually applied thoughts such as that at 1 Tim 6:7-10?

    “For we have brought nothing into the world, and neither can we carry anything out. So, having sustenance and covering, we shall be content with these things. "

    I’m from one of the “lower performing” faiths, and we’re all the time striving to ’simplify’ our lives, in harmony with the above counsel. As individuals, we have many that would, in any case, be on the ‘less income’ level, but we also have many who have deliberately lowered their standards of living so that material things do not infringe upon spiritual values. Thus, the overall income level is skewed downward.

    Would that not be expected from people who actually applied the Bible’s counsel? Is it really so that any right-thinking person naturally strives to be as high up on the income ladder as possible?

  7. bhai says:

    The next step based on noting the difference can be what causes the difference in income distribution, and that can come down to two broad categories with overlap depending on point of view. In one view, broadly conservative, the difference in income is due to the characteristics of the people within the groups, and the people who are the highest income earners are those who should be the highest income earners. The other view, broadly progressive, is that outcomes are determined by environment, and the highest income earners are those who gain the most advantage from the environment in which they live. Where one comes down can have a lot to do with the basic split between progressive and conservative.

  8. bhai says:

    The next step based on noting the difference can be what causes the difference in income distribution, and that can come down to two broad categories with overlap depending on point of view. In one view, broadly conservative, the difference in income is due to the characteristics of the people within the groups, and the people who are the highest income earners are those who should be the highest income earners. The other view, broadly progressive, is that outcomes are determined by environment, and the highest income earners are those who gain the most advantage from the environment in which they live. Where one comes down can have a lot to do with the basic split between progressive and conservative.

  9. […] side of this figure, listing Orthodox.) similarly how Russians are the richest in Britain America’s Wealthiest Religions? | The Langar Hall Reply With […]

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