Religion, the Great Economic Engine
By John Stonestreet
Here is more proof that faith is good for America.
Guess who has the world’s 15th largest economy, right between Russia and Australia? American religion. Yep.
A few months ago on BreakPoint, I mentioned a Pew study that demonstrated Americans’ increasing ignorance of the vital role played by religious institutions in this country. Between 2001 and 2016, the percentage of Americans who think that religion plays a role in solving important social problems fell from 75 percent to 58 percent.
As I said at the time, “part of the problem is that the religious contribution to the common good is so woven into the fabric of American life, most people these days just take it for granted and never stop to think about how prevalent it really is.” In fact, according to another study, half of Americans think that the government could replace religious organizations with no problems and nothing lost.
And now, a new study quantifies just how wrong half of Americans are.
Published in the Interdisciplinary Journal of Research in Religion, the study quantifies that “religion in the United States today contributes $1.2 trillion each year to our economy and society.” That’s “trillion” with a “tr,” or “more than the top ten tech companies combined—including Google, Apple, and Amazon.”
Put another way, if American religion were a country, it would rank 14th or 15th among the world’s economies, just ahead of Russia and just behind Australia. Put still another way, religion accounts for a little under seven percent of our economic output.
Now you still think that religion can just be replaced?
The study conducted by Brian and Melissa Grim of Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs reminds those willing to listen that the nation’s 344,000 religious congregations aren’t just houses of worship, “they are also the nucleus of many communities.” They are the “centers for job training, charity, child care, and social events.”
Read more: Breakpoint
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