The Political Power of Tithing

Last night, I was reading an essay titled Blessing the World by Unitarian Universalist theologian Rebecca Ann Parker. In her essay,  Parker discussed the practice of tithing in the Christian church. In a traditional sense, tithing means that parishioners give away 10% of their income to their church. According to Parker, most evangelical Christians and socially conservative churches continue this practice while most liberal faith-based institutions do not. This means that evangelical churches have a lot of money which they can donate to conservative political campaings or other right-wing causes. Ultimately, tithing is a major reason why the religious right has morphed into a powerful political interest group.

In contrast, progressive advocacy groups are often sorely underfunded and disorganized. In my graduate school classes, we often lament how liberal grassroots movements have been largely ineffective at pressuring policymakers and holding Democratic candidates accountable while the religious right continues to impact policy and influence Republican congressmen.

Last night, as I was reading Parker’ s essay, I wondered if the practice of tithing could also empower progressive grassroots movements and advocacy groups. If large numbers of liberals committed to donating 10% of their income to progressive grassroots causes–could we too build powerful interest groups capable of influencing social policy in America?

Take a moment to think. Would you consider donating 10%, 5% or even 2% of your income to a progressive cause in the coming year?

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