Have a Supernatural Experience? You'll Probably Give More to Your Church

Chances are, if you've seen an angel, or been visited by someone who has died, or believe that God has talked to you, you're more likely to donate to your church or synagogue or mosque, according to newswise.com.

That's because "supernatural experiences trigger religious donations," it reports. Not hard to figure out why. When good things we can't explain happen to us, we're usually pretty grateful.  And that gratitude sometimes impels us to give back.

While voluntary giving to religious organizations consistently makes up the largest share of America’s philanthropy, little research has been done on why that is until now, newswise.com notes, crediting Katie Corcoran, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in Baylor’s Institute for Studies of Religion, with a new study that looks into it.

"The study shows that the less religious doubt people have, the more they are willing to give," the Web site notes.

In her study, respondents who gave to religious organizations "were more likely to report having had a supernatural experience such as being healed, witnessing the healing of another, hearing God’s voice, speaking in tongues, being protected by a guardian angel or having a 'born-again' experience," newswise.com says.

“You can’t empirically verify the existence of God, but mystical experiences are believed to be empirical signs of God, of having some sort of interaction with the divine,” newswise.com quotes Corcoran. “If you think God exists, you’re more likely to give.”

I've never had a supernatural experience, like God talking to me (though I talk to Him every day), but living in the Midwest in my 20s, and hooking up with people who turned out to be very religious, I did hear some speaking in tongues. It was a little scary, but the people afterward were in ecstasy even though, to me, it looked like they were having a stroke or some other physical crisis. Did they give more money? I don't know, but Corcoran notes that  previous research shows that "evangelicals give more of their income than mainline Protestants and Catholics." Her study indicates that evangelicals have a higher level of confidence in God, which increases their giving. And the evangelicals I knew certainly centered their lives around God.

“If you don’t believe in Heaven — or don’t believe you’re going there — why would you do things the church says you should, like giving?” On the other hand, “if you believe, giving is a natural by-product,” she said.

So maybe you don't have to have a miracle happen to you to decide to give to your religious organization (though I suppose having one would make you lean more in that direction).

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