American Religion: The 15th Largest Economy in the World

American Religion

Depending on what is included in the count, religion in the United States is worth somewhere between $378 billion to $4.8 trillion annually, according to “The Socioeconomic Contributions of Religion to American Society: An Empirical Analysis”, co-authored by Brian Grim of Georgetown University and Melissa Grim of Newseum Institute—both of Washington, D.C.

The study calculated three estimates: the lowest, at $378 billion, covered only those revenues of faith-based organizations. The middle estimate, $1.2 trillion, included the estimated market value of goods and services provided by religious organizations and the contributions and donations of businesses with religious ties. The highest estimate, $4.8 trillion, was based on the household incomes of religiously affiliated Americans.

Even considering the middle estimate of $1.2 trillion, religion is a faith economy worth more than the top 10 high-tech companies in the United States combined—including Apple and Google—and is the 15th largest national economy in the world.

Almost half the population of the United States, more than 150 million Americans, are members of religious organizations. And although the numbers are declining, dollars spent by faith-based organizations on social programs have tripled in the past 15 years to $9 billion.

Brian Grim pointed out that more than 344,000 congregations in the U.S. employ hundreds of thousands of staff and buy billions of dollars of goods and services each year.

Much of the income generated by religious congregations is made up largely of tax-free donations and tithes.

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

The report concluded that “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.”

Photo Credits: Humans are Free

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