Arthur Brooks an economist has just written a book, reviewed here (and I should make clear that I have only read the review) which outlines that in general in the United States leftwing people give less to charity than rightwingers. The use of this to bash the left in the United States has already started , it forms a useful counterpoint one might think to the oft repeated theme that blue states are much more orientated towards family values than red states.
Brooks's research though is in my view highly difficult to sustain. What he is really tieing together is religious faith and charity- NOT political views and charity- he finds for instance the worst givers are secular conservatives. Secondly as the review addresses there are difficulties to do with what exactly counts as charitable giving within his model- giving to a church does but it hardly seems fair to chastise an atheist for not giving money to a church. Furthermore there are problems with the way that the data was collected- what we may be seeing is that religious people are more willing to declare their giving than atheists- not that they give more.
There is one factor that I think the review misses though, and perhaps Brooks misses too, and that is the difference between small town America and big city America. It would strike me as intuitive that people in smaller less anonymous communities are more likely to be forced by social pressures to give to charity than people in huge anonymous cities.
Overall despite these doubts, there probably is a link between religion and charitable giving- rather than bashing Liberals or atheists over the head for this- its worthy thinking about charitable giving as one of the positive things that can come out of a profound religious faith. There are downsides to such a faith as well- the willingness to follow leaders of those faiths wherever they lead and the willingness to be as Dave Cole outlines not merely prejudiced but vindictive. Yet this evidence about charity shows how that kind of compulsion, that kind of moral imperative can drive actions which all would accept as good and kind. It is incumbent sometimes upon those of us who are not religious to remember studies like this that suggest religion sometimes provides a road for people to go to perform acts of great altruism and moral courage which aid others in their route through life.