Religion provides many benefits to America….is economic value one of them?

For many Americans, religion—particularly Christianity—is intrinsically valuable. We appreciate religiously motivated behavior primarily because it honors God and serves our fellow man. But an increasing number are skeptical that religion provides much benefit to anyone else.

This skepticism about religion’s value to society lead researchers Brian and Melissa Grim to conduct a study, recently published in the Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion, that shows how religion contributes to the U.S. economy.

They found three:

The first and most conservative estimate takes into account only the revenues of faith-based organizations from areas like education, healthcare, local congregational activities, charities, media, and food. It amounts to 378 billion dollars a year.

The second estimate looks at the fair market value of congregational social services and contribution of businesses with religious roots. They pegged that number at 1.2 trillion.

And finally the annual household incomes of America’s religiously affiliated population. Their research put that number at 4.8 trillion annually. The authors concluded, “The data are clear. Religion is a highly significant sector of the American economy.”

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