A new study on the generosity of Americans suggests that states with the least religious residents are also the stingiest about giving money to charity.
The study released Monday by the Chronicle of Philanthropy found that residents in states where religious participation is higher than the rest of the nation, particularly in the South, gave the greatest percentage of their discretionary income to charity.
Study results show Oklahoma was behind 20 states in the amount of money it gave to charity.
The Chronicle of Philanthropy says Oklahomans gave $1.7 billion in contributions, or 5.6 percent.
In a breakdown of Oklahoma's two major cities, Oklahoma City area residents gave more in total contributions than Tulsa area residents: $640.1 million to $592.4 million. Tulsa had a higher percentage of income given to charity, 5.9 percent to 5.5 percent.
The giving percentage was 5.2 percent in the Southern states, a region from Texas east to Delaware and Florida, and including most of the so-called Bible Belt.
The most generous state was Utah, where residents gave 10.6 percent of their discretionary income to charity. The least generous was New Hampshire, at 2.5 percent.
The study was based on Internal Revenue Service records of people who itemized deductions in 2008, the most recent year statistics were available.
But Boston College professor Alan Wolfe said people in less religious states give in a different way by being more willing to pay higher taxes so the government can equitably distribute more to the poor.