Religion and volunteering: What motivates people of faith to serve thy neighbor

What leads religious individuals to volunteer at a community food bank, or to care for the sick or to build houses and schools for neighbors in their community and across the world? The answer is complex, with personal faith, worship attendance and social networks all playing a role, according to new research.

The latest edition of Ahead of the Trend (from the Association of Religion Data Archives) explores studies indicating religious belief and private prayer are among the influences associated with compassionate service to others. The quest to determine the motivations of religious volunteers has taken on added urgency in an era of increasingly bitter political battles over government funding of social services and a rise in the number of Americans reporting no religious affiliation.

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