Big Charity

An interesting observation in the New York Times: Of the top four charitable givers in United States history, three were or are nonbelievers (self-described atheists or agnostics): Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Andrew Carnegie. The fourth is John D. Rockefeller, who was a Baptist. According to the Times’ contributor, Buffett’s recent charitable activity — which, including pledges, total about $37 billion — are more than double that of Carnegie and Rockefeller combined, even after accounting for inflation.

I was not aware of this. I have not done any kind of fact-checking to verify if this is true (particularly the math of the present-day value of Carnegie and Rockefeller’s remarkable charitable donations). There are other ways to measure a particular group’s participation in charity; clearly, religious folks give to charity, too.

It may well be that a higher percentage of religious folks give to charity than non-religious folks; or perhaps they give more regularly; or perhaps not. The article does not really say. All the same, it’s an interesting observation.

Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering litigator. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Recovering Former Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.