The insularity of the OALC (giving charity only to others within the church) bothered me so much growing up that when I was chosen to speak at high school graduation, I devoted my speech to "loving thy neighbor." (I wish I had saved a copy of it. Silly me, I thought I would always remember it, and gave my only copy to my first roommates' parents, liberal OALCer's who kept a copy of "As a Man Thinketh" on their coffee-table, and encouraged my friendship with their daughters, who were experiencing a wildly hedonistic rumspringa, but that is a different story.)
It turns out it wasn't just the OALC; religion in general doesn't make a dent in our tribalism. According to this study, being religious makes people more cooperative, but only when they are dealing with others of the same faith.
In one task people were given an imaginary sum of money and given the option of sending some to another participant.They were told that whatever they did not send they would be able to keep but also that the participant could chose to send some of it back – which would then be tripled.They had to judge how “generous” to be.Participants included Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist and non-religious volunteers.The team noticed that there was little difference between levels of co-operation and generosity when people knew nothing of the other person’s beliefs and when they knew that they were of different persuasions.But when told that the other person shared their religion they were markedly more trusting and generous with the money.Dr Robert Hoffmann, an Associate Professor of Economics at Nottingham University Business School and co-author of the report, said: “One would imagine the charity inherent in many well-known articles of faith might have some impact on everyday behaviour.“But we discovered no evidence of that when we examined what happens when people who are religious knowingly interact with those of a different or no faith."In other news, lawmakers in Arizona have introduced a bill that would require students to swear an oath of loyalty in order to receive a high school diploma. I can't imagine it will get very far.