A new study puts a dollar value on faith in the United States – and it turns out religion is good for the economy. $1.2 trillion good.
Father-and-daughter researchers Brian Grim and Melissa Grim examined how much of an economic contribution religion makes in America, and provided conservative, mid-range and high estimates.
On the low end, looking only at the revenues of faith-based organizations, the figure adds up to $378 billion annually.
That’s a bigger amount than the global annual revenues of tech giants Apple and Microsoft – combined.
But that amount is conservative because it only looks at revenue, not fair market value of the goods and services provided by faith groups in sectors like education, healthcare, local congregational activities, charities, media and food.
And as Christianity Today pointed out when reporting the results of the study, the funds collected by churches, charities and religious institutions are increasingly being spent on social services:
“The funds pay for food assistance programs, parenting classes, and alcohol and drug abuse recovery programs. They’re spent on youth camps, assistance for the unemployed, and classes on finance management. The amount churches spend on social services was more than $9 billion in 2012, up from about $3 billion in 2006 and $2 billion in 1998.
“Churches sponsor more than 1.6 million social services programs in America each year, and provide 7.6 million volunteers. More than 9 in 10 congregations actively recruit volunteers for outside projects (93%), half allow their building to be used for non-congregational purposes (50%), and close to half have groups that think about how to meet community needs (48%).”
Despite all of the service and orthopraxy – the doing of God’s Word – that takes place in the U.S. by churches and other faith-based groups, there are many who would prefer to exclude religiously motivated people from the public square.
Most recently, we’re seeing opinion pieces asking the NCAA to kick out member schools who adhere to a biblical sexual ethic, or urging corporations to not hire young people graduating from Christian colleges and universities like Azusa Pacific University, Liberty University, and Wheaton College.
The people advocating such preposterous ideas would be well-served to review this report and consider the negative financial impact of shutting out people of faith from society.
They say “money talks,” but when it comes to this issue, is anyone listening?