Whether you are a Christian or not, you are benefiting from the positive impact of Christianity on your life. That is the premise of the book by Dr. Rodney Stark. Although I have interviewed Professor Stark on many of his books, I was unaware of his book, America’s Blessings: How Religion Benefits Everyone Including Atheists. Jerry Newcombe brought his book to my attention in a recent column.
This book is a natural one for the professor to write since he has talked about the positive contribution of Christianity to Western civilization. Since we live in a country that Stark describes as “unusually religious” we shouldn’t be surprised that many of the blessings that Christianity has brought to the world can be found in America.
He says people who attend church tend to donate more than others. In previous commentaries I have talked about the research by Arthur Brooks that found the same things. Rodney Stark says that: “religious people dominate the ranks of blood donors, to whom even some angry humanists owe their lives.” Christians also “are far more likely to contribute even to secular charities, to volunteer their times to socially beneficial programs, and to be active in civic affairs.”
Religious Americans also enjoy better physical health. They have “an average life expectancy more than seven years longer than that of the irreligious.” In fact, much of this difference remains even after the effects of “clean living” are removed.
Rodney Stark also talks about another topic we have discussed in previous commentaries: the fertility gap. The fertility rate for religious people is much higher than for secular people. He cites Eric Kaufman’s book, Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth? That book points out that when you look at Europe, the population is declining, except in the religious sector.
Despite what you might hear from atheists and skeptics, Christianity has been a blessing to America and the world.