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May 17, 2021

Take a guess: what religion boasts the highest earners?

“A rabbi, a priest and a minister walk into a bar. The bartender looks up and says, ‘What is this, a joke?’”


1330858_church_windows Often, our religion defines us. But does it also define our earning power?

The New York Times  conducted a study recently to find which faiths earned the top family incomes. What won’t surprise you is the religions that boast the highest level of education also make the most money. Where each religion falls on the rankings, though, you might not see coming.

Just as everyone takes a peak at what the guy next to him popped in the church collection plate, all religions must be at least a little curious to see where others stand. Not in a “covet thy neighbour” kind of way, more in a “Jesus, how does Bob afford an Audi on that salary?” type inquiry.

According to the Times’  David Leonhardt, Hindus and Jews are the most prolific-earning religions based on family income in the U.S. – about 48 per cent of Hindus make $100,000 or more in family income each year, while 35 per cent of Jews (both Reform Jews, at no. 2 on the list, and Conservative Jews, at no. 3 on the list, earn at the same clip) bring home more than the $100K mark.

Rounding out the rest of the top 10: Unitarians (29 per cent earn more than $100,000 in annual family income); Buddhists (26 per cent); Anglicans/Episcopalians (25 per cent); Orthodox Christians (18 per cent); Presbyterians (18 per cent); Secular (16 per cent); and Methodists (13 per cent).

Lower on the list are more prominent religions. About 10 per cent of Mormon, Catholic and Muslim families earn $100,000 or more each year, while Jehovah’s Witnesses – at three per cent of families raking in $100K – are the lowest-earning faith, according to the poll.

Draw whatever conclusions from these numbers that you will, but also note that, almost uniformly, the more education certain religious followers hold leads to higher family incomes. About 84 per cent of Hindus in the U.S. have “at least some college” education (43 per cent have post-grad degrees), while about 81 per cent of Jews have at least some post-secondary education (about 49 per cent have post-grad degrees).

Do you feel some religions preach the importance of money (careful, commenters) more so than others? Does your faith, in addition to providing spiritual guidance, prepare you for financial ambition?

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money

*Follow Jason on Twitter here.



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...