Religion in US ‘worth more than Google and Apple combined’

Faith is worth $1.2tn a year - more than combined revenues of 10 biggest tech firms in America

By Harriet Sherwood | 15 January 2016
The Guardian

The largely tax-free religion industry is one of the biggest in America, worth $1.2 trillion/year, a number that includes religious “healthcare facilities, schools, daycare and charities; media; businesses with faith backgrounds; the kosher and halal food markets; social and philanthropic programmes; and staff and overheads for congregations.” (Photo: ToBeDaniel / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 3.0)

Religion in the United States is worth $1.2tn a year, making it equivalent to the 15th largest national economy in the world, according to a study.

The faith economy has a higher value than the combined revenues of the top 10 technology companies in the US, including Apple, Amazon and Google, says the analysis from Georgetown University in Washington DC.

The Socioeconomic Contributions of Religion to American Society: An Empirical Analysis calculated the $1.2tn figure by estimating the value of religious institutions, including healthcare facilities, schools, daycare and charities; media; businesses with faith backgrounds; the kosher and halal food markets; social and philanthropic programmes; and staff and overheads for congregations.

Co-author Brian Grim said it was a conservative estimate. More than 344,000 congregations across the US collectively employ hundreds of thousands of staff and buy billions of dollars worth of goods and services.

More than 150 million Americans, almost half the population, are members of faith congregations, according to the report. Although numbers are declining, the sums spent by religious organisations on social programmes have tripled in the past 15 years, to $9bn.

Twenty of the top 50 charities in the US are faith-based, with a combined operating revenue of $45.3bn.

The report points to analysis by the Pew Research Centre which shows that two-thirds of highly religious adults had donated money, time or goods to the poor in the previous week, compared with 41% of adults who said they were not highly religious.

Grim and his co-author Melissa Grim of the Newseum Institute in Washington came up with three estimates of the worth of US religion. The lowest, at $378bn, took into account only the revenues of faith-based organisations. The middle estimate, $1.2tn, included an estimate of the market value of goods and services provided by religious organisations and the contributions of businesses with religious roots.

The top estimate was based on the household incomes of religiously affiliated Americans, and placed the value of faith to US society at $4.8tn annually.

The analysis did not take account of the value of financial or physical assets held by religious groups. Neither did it account for “the negative impacts that occur in some religious communities, including … such things as the abuse of children by some clergy, cases of fraud, and the possibility of being recruitment sites for violent extremism”.

However, it concluded, “the faith sector is undoubtedly a significant component of the overall American economy, impacting and involving the lives of the majority of the US population”.

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  1. Why do you all just share so much hate for the Christian religion? Do you even know what Christ taught? is this just "follow the leader". This article is talking about all faiths, every religion .

    • People di not have a problem with Christianity. What they do have a problem with is how religion is used to manipulate people. To degrade people,
      It is used to promote hatred against women, The lgbt community, against peole of faiths different than so called Christianity.
      Jesus taught kindness, generosity, and tolerance love and tolerance for everyone. He did not judge. The born again and evangelical communities have made a mockery of Christianity. They are hateful, judgemental, selfish, and unloving. They promote hatred and intolerance in the name of Jesus. Ic fhey were truly Christian, ther would be no kids isolated from their parents. Eveyone of every colour and every sexualnpreference would b appreciated for whk they are. Jesus lived humbly. The pastors pf Msga Churches live a life of excess and undeserved privilege in huge mansions. Christian teachings include healing the sick, clothing the naked, feeding the hungry. Anyone who locks innocemt children in a loveless, cold, comfortless cell, znd anyme who justifies it is not a Christian by definition.

  2. Religion takes away the power for it’s members to think for themselves. I will never let this happen to myself, I know right from wrong and will always choose what’s right for everyone. Homelessness, free education, food for the starving and affordable health care for all.


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