A recent study that indicates non-religious people are more compassionate than religious people is being spun as though the non-religious are superior to the religious. However, it doesn't seem that's what the details of the study actually show.
What was measured was the emotional reaction to heart-wrenching circumstances and the giving patterns afterward. It didn't show that the religious gave less than the non-religious. The generosity of the religous was unchanged by the emotional stimulus shown the participants. It only showed that the non-religious people were motivated by emotion more than the religous people.
Rather than being a negative for religious people, I think this study is actually a positive. Generosity and desire to help disadvantaged people wasn't a fleeting emotinal impulse for the religious. Rather it's a habit and discipline, even a duty. Other studies have shown that religious people give more charity than secular people do. What this study adds to that information is that charity is a regular habit of the religious and more of an emotional impulse for the non-religious.
Obviously regular, long-term giving is more helpful to aid the needy than short-term, impulsive help. It's odd that the study is being portrayed as though it proves that compassion is superior in non-religious people. Interpretation of data is always key in understanding studies. I think, looking at the study data, it shows that the non-religious give when their emotions are appealed to, but religious people have other motivations that are more constant and reliable. Christians have values and beliefs that create a duty and pattern of compassionate behavior regardless of compassionate emotion. The religious don't wait for emotional to motivate them. Their motivations are more regular, reliable, and habitual.
And aside from what a study shows, we can simply observe our time and history. Many churches have programs to help homeless and hungry people. Most congregations give to programs that aid people in all kinds of difficult circumstances around the world. Most denominations have aid programs that are helping day in and day out, and are often first on the scene of a disaster. Christians and their churches have been responsible for building hospitals, hospices, orphanages, and relief agencies. In history, it's often been Christianity that has motivated positive social change to aid people.
So forget the person in the lab coat, I don't need an expert or study to tell me what I can see with my own eyes.