Once upon a time, all of the U.S. Presidents and Founding Fathers were arguing over who among them was the most religious. President George Washington insisted, “The most religious is surely me! I’ve been in collection plates more than all of you combined!”
Most monetary giving in your typical U.S. Catholic parish is done through checks or bills placed inside of sealed envelopes; however, some people throw bills loosely into the collection. So what is the prevalence of the denominations in this latter form of giving? In one rural Catholic parish, where this “loose bill” giving has averaged $295.25 over 34 collections, the data looks like this:
Based on this data, and applying the (specious) logic of our opening joke, George Washington is…
6.09 times more religious than Abraham Lincoln ($5).
12.7 times more religious than Andrew Jackson ($20).
15.4 times more religious than Alexander Hamilton. ($10).
190 times more religious than Ulysses S. Grant ($50).
And 1,040 times more religious than either Thomas Jefferson ($2) or Benjamin Franklin ($100).
President Washington’s visage does indeed grace collection baskets more than all the others combined, but his bills are not the ones that generate the greatest value to the church:
Though George Washington is seen at church the most often, Andrew Jackson is its most generous benefactor.