Philanthropy & Religions

Prof. François Dermange

Philanthropy has an ambiguous relationship with religions, based both on heritage and traditions of generosity and altruism, but also on a desire to set itself apart. Humanism considers itself to be more impartial and more universal than religious conceptions that are judged to be moralistic, partisan, condescending or sectarian.

Is this analysis justified? What can be said about the standards set by religions as different as Jewish monotheism and Buddhism? Do ethical and liturgical practices, or even prayer and fasting, shape specific ways of thinking and living the gift in concrete terms? And besides, what should be given? Is it the surplus, some alms, or does the gift involve the whole person in his or her relationship with the divine and with others, right up to the limits of one's own life?