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October 14, 2011

Tithing at 40-Year Low in Mainline Churches, Study Finds

Tithing by parishioners at Lutheran, Presbyterian, Episcopalian, and other mainline Protestant churches is at its lowest level in four decades,  according to a study cited by Religion News Service.

Mainline Protestant congregants gave their churches about 2.38 percent of their income in 2009, the lowest rate since the nonprofit research group Empty Tomb began to report tithing figures in 1968.

Most of the donations went to help congregations cover operating and building costs, with 0.34 percent going to "benevolences," or charitable donations outside the particular house of worship—about half the 1968 level.

Sylvia Ronsvalle, the report's co-author, said the trend suggest that churches seem to be more concerned with their own needs and their own desires over the needs of others.

“These are alarming trends that need to be evaluated,” she declared.