Decline in church giving in the United States during the recession: A spatial application of Choice Waves


Charitable contributions fell in the United States during the recession that begun in 2007/2008. Churches also experienced this decline. When the economy recovered, non-religious charities recovered much faster than churches. Other factors, such as doctrine, changes in religious belief, and societal secularization may influence the decision to donate to churches. This study applies economic choice waves to investigate regional effects and derives a “force of influence” function to account mathematically for the various factors that may influence church giving. The results suggest that there are both regional effects and influence from church and societal factors.

Keywords: Charitable giving, choice model, GIS, regional economics, societal influence

Spatial and Economic Analysis of the Decline in Church Giving During and Following the Economic Crisis

Charitable giving in the Unites States was hit hard by the economic crisis. Both Christian churches and other non-profit organizations were affected. As the economy began to recover, charitable giving overall continued to suffer in 2010. In 2012, donations to non-profits rose, while churches continued to see decline. Since donations are not always impacted solely by economic conditions. This presented the question of motivation driving the individual allocation of resources to churches. This study found that, although decline in income had some correlation with decline in giving, the decline in Christian church donation receipts was driven primarily by religious demographic factors.

The full paper will be available after publication. 

On the Atrophy of Moral Reasoning and the Global Financial Crisis

Kim Hawtrey and Rutherford Johnson
Journal of Religion and Business Ethics


The Global Financial Crisis - and its human toll - can be attributed to an atypical pandemic of morally sourced market failure. This paper develops a ‘moral bubble’ understanding of the sub-prime crisis, in which ethical decision-making by economic actors is marked by expediency and crowd effects. The paper revisits Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments and shows Smith’s theory offers a helpful corrective to the ethical atrophy behind the recent credit crisis. The need to safeguard the 'soft' (moral) infrastructure of markets has significant implications for business decision-makers, for public policy, and for the role of Christian belief in society.

Hawtrey, Kim and Johnson, Rutherford (2010) "On the Atrophy of Moral Reasoning in the Global Financial Crisis," Journal of Religion and Business Ethics: Vol. 1, Article 4. Available at:

High Altitude Mountain Economics

This study was started to investigate the effects of extreme environments on consumer decision. Other studies demonstrated the impact of high altitude on both physical and mental processes. So, it was reasonable to postulate that consumer/monetary decisions might also be impacted. We designed a survey instrument designed to elicit willingness to accept compensation for not reaching the summit. This was administered at low altitude through the internet and at several high altitude mountain locations around the world. The high altitude and low altitude results were statistically compared. The results suggest that economic decision is impacted by extreme environment.

Recreational Demand for Equestrian Trail Riding

This project was carried out in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service and the Commonwealth of Kentucky in order to evaluate demand for equine trail facilities in Kentucky for the purpose of conducting policy evaluation. In Kentucky there are various trail riding facilities, which naturally differ in characteristics, such as trail length, scenic vistas, trail markers, and camping facilities. We designed a survey instrument consistent with the travel cost model to collect data both at the trails and off-site through horse clubs. Spatial analysis was also incorporated into the study through the application of GIS data. The spatial data provided information about distance the survey respondents had to travel in order to get to the trail facility. This study showed that distance was the primary determining factor in an individual's choice to visit a particular equine trails facility. However, trail characteristics have a significant impact in the number of times an individual returns to a particular facility in a given year. Thus policymakers are encouraged to consider increasing and improving trail characteristics as a means of increasing visitation to these sites. The study suggests that riders may be willing to pay for these improvements.

Read the complete paper, published in Agricultural and Resource Economics Review.

Daring to Be Christian

It is certainly difficult to live a Christian life in this day and age. Then again, it has also been a difficult journey. Daring to be Christian is a journey deep into our own spirituality and an exploration of the inner-most regions of our faith. Christianity is a faith of constant renewal and conversion, beginning with our baptism and continuing throughout our lives. Drawing on the truth of Sacred Scripture and the words and examples of the Saints themselves, Daring to be Christian is a guide through the joys and tribulations of those who have the courage to live a truly Christian life.

A Preparatory Education

Ensuring that values remain in our schools is the purpose behind this book. Proper education is of fundamental importance for children. Both the individual and society benefit from the foundation that can come only from a good education. A school’s mission, purpose, and direction are of utmost importance in producing competent graduates ready to lead a life filled with meaning and purpose. A Preparatory Education is an exploration of the Christian philosophy of education and its application to college preparatory schools. The model of a Christ-centered totality of education is applied to all aspects of school programs at the primary and secondary level, looking especially at the role of a preparatory school both in the overall system of education and in achieving growth in the Faith.

An Incidental Priest

An Incidental Priest is Cardinal Johnson's first non-liturgical book. It is about being one of many people, but still making a difference and still making your life count. The book talks about the concept of a priest, one of so many in the Church over the past two thousand years, who is always there for those who need him. This is the incidental priest, an archetype for humble Christian service towards others, guiding the faithful on their spiritual journeys. Though this incidental priest may be one of many, he still serves a vital role in the world. Drawing from the pastoral writings, sermons, and personal experiences of the author, some of the most essential and difficult issues of modern society are discussed, always cycling back to the incidental priest’s example of selfless service and love towards others. An Incidental Priest strives for the idea of what it means to live as a true Christian in modern society.

How to Say Mass in the Anglican Rite

This is the first book written by Cardinal Johnson. It represents over a decade of work and was written with the intent of providing a concise and complete resource for Anglo-Roman clergy. With its hundreds of diagrams and drawings, it has been hailed as a highly useful resource for clergy and servers alike.