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The Almighty Buck United States Government Technology Science

Religion In US 'Worth More Than Google and Apple Combined' (theguardian.com) 539

A new study says religion in the United States is worth $1.2 trillion per year. Not only is that equivalent to the 15th largest national economy in the world, but it's more than the combined revenues of the top 10 technology companies in the U.S., including Apple, Amazon and Google. The study, "The Socioeconomic Contributions of Religion To American Society: An Empirical Analysis," was conducted by Brian J. Grim from Georgetown University and Melissa E. Grim from Newseum Institute. The Guardian reports: The Socioeconomic Contributions of Religion to American Society: An Empirical Analysis calculated the $1.2 trillion 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 programs; and staff and overheads for congregations. Co-author Brian Grim said it was a conservative estimate. More than 344,000 congregations across the U.S. 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 organizations on social programs have tripled in the past 15 years, to $9 billion. The report points to analysis by the Pew Research Center 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. The analysis didn't account for the value of financial or physical assets held by religious groups, or 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."
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Religion In US 'Worth More Than Google and Apple Combined'

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  • Tax (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    But Apple and Google pay more tax than religion in US....

    • Re:Tax (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ArmoredDragon ( 3450605 ) on Thursday September 15, 2016 @10:38PM (#52898019)

      Interesting thought; I'm genuinely curious: Who contributes more to doling out welfare: private funded charities (including religions) or the government?

      • This question is interesting, but I feel the better question is which group has more of an impact regardless of the amount spent?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        when government ensures that everyone can get power, and mail, and water and sewage (etc etc) - are they doing it with some alterior motives? strings attached? join 'our club' or else?

        the government, in the ideal sense, exists to empower people with a higher standard of living that they can achieve collectively, that they could not individually. we have roads and utilities and all that - NOT because its a 'good business profit' reason, but because its what is Right and Good and what everyone knows down

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by lgw ( 121541 )

          Compare the Catholic Church when it was a government to when it wasn't. The Inquisition was just a part of it. Clearly in that example the "government" part was a net negative, pretty obviously because of that "all governments have become evil and corrupt" part.

          religion has a motive. and it makes selective 'gifts'. to get the soup, you have to listen to the BS sermon. no listen, no soup. that's not a group of people I want running things.

          100 years ago that was very true for Christians (and it still is for Islam), but modern Christian charities do a lot of normal, no strings attached charity work. Plus, religious people are just a lot more likely to give to charities of all sorts.

          So

        • If government existed to do what is Right and Good, we never would have had slavery.
          Government exists to represent (in some sense or another) the collective will of the people. The collective will of the people is not always a good thing.

          As for roads specifically, Eisenhower supported the road system as a way to improve military transport. Other roads (such as the avenues of the saints) was built to improve commerce (which you call 'good profit reason'). Maybe some road in the world was built because i
        • by Kjella ( 173770 )

          I think you start off with a fairy tale definition of government, when you consider that historically and still in many cases today the people weren't involved in the process at all. The government was the ruler's organization whether it was a king or emperor or pharaoh or some other non-elected circle, where any interest they had in keeping the peace or any other public service was auxiliary to taxing their subjects, drafting them for armies or any other task their sovereign wanted them for.

          What you're tal

        • Re:Tax (Score:4, Insightful)

          by meta-monkey ( 321000 ) on Friday September 16, 2016 @09:29AM (#52900131) Journal

          Government has a motive, too. To be profitable to the people in control of the government.

          I would believe that atheists had my best interests at heart, trying to "free" the masses from controlling religions if more of them became extreme libertarians rather than authoritarians. The vast bulk of atheists just want to replace people's individualist religions with their collectivist religion: the state.

      • by sims 2 ( 994794 )

        I'm mildly curious I want to think private charities but the first result for "welfare us budget" snippet shows $1.03 trillion in 2011 but TFS says that the religious organizations are spending only about $9 billion that's a pretty big gap.

        • Re:Tax (Score:5, Interesting)

          by ArmoredDragon ( 3450605 ) on Thursday September 15, 2016 @11:21PM (#52898197)

          I think a lot of that, for the religious orgs, goes into building massive churches. LDS is insanely wealthy and spares practically no expense in making huge, ornate temples. When they're about to re-dedicate one, us "impure" commonfolk can go inside, and I did that one time and saw some life-size oxen made out of what appeared to be gold surrounding a big ornate pool presumably used for baptisms, and then some expensive looking theaters (practically a multiplex) used for displaying religious propaganda to the public, and practically all of the floors and walls adorned with either granite or marble in pretty much the entire temple, with each room (and there are many rooms) being about two stories in height with really big chandeliers. I guess another way of describing it would be something four times as big, expensive, and decorated as the whitehouse. And in spite of the massive size of this thing, very few people even go inside, and they have about 170 of them throughout the entire US.

          And for some reason they see fit to ask that their members pay all of the expenses for their own missionary work, even though people of that age typically don't make much at all and it takes them years to save up for that. (My dad was required to save up for it by his parents for about 5 years, and then when he turned 17 he moved away from home and spent it on college and pretty much just ignored the church for the rest of his life.)

      • You can come up with different numbers depending on how you want to calculate each, but the two are roughly equal. Very roughly.

        You said "private funded charities (including religions)". The summary says religious *organizations* $9 billion, and religious *people* are almost twice as likely to engage in charity, often at the behest of their religious leaders or texts. So we can guesstimate that "religion" is responsible for roughly $18 billion or so. A reasonable guess would be that non-religious privat

      • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
        Re Who contributes more to doling out welfare: private funded charities (including religions) or the government?
        Big government and established faiths can do a lot. Cults or new faiths with religious tax findings have to be seen to do more with much less.
        The cradle to retirement welfare state was to only be for a nations own. The math of life expectancy, number of tax payers, average numbers of fully eligible citizens who lived long a few extra years on average to collect. For how long into retirement w
    • Re:Tax (Score:5, Funny)

      by quenda ( 644621 ) on Thursday September 15, 2016 @11:15PM (#52898165)

      Following recent EC rulings, Apple is considering registering as a religion for tax purposes. They may succeed, as people have been calling them a religion for years.

      Google, on the other hand, having achieved both omniscience and omnipresence, is more a God than a religion.

      • Following recent EC rulings, Apple is considering registering as a religion for tax purposes. They may succeed, as people have been calling them a religion for years.

        You wouldn't be mocking it if you hadn't been touched by His Reality Distortion Field.

    • It offsets all the tax they don't pay in Europe, Australia, etc.

    • Re:Tax (Score:5, Interesting)

      by freak0fnature ( 1838248 ) on Friday September 16, 2016 @08:29AM (#52899751)
      The concept that 'religion' and 'religious organizations' pay no tax is a fallacy. The pastor and employees still must pay income taxes, that is not exempt. Most people that go out and purchase stuff for a church pay sales tax unless they are carrying the tax exempt form...and it's a pain in the rear to do it for online purchases. The biggest savings is property tax, and many churches would never survive if they had to pay property tax
  • I sorta missed how this is related to technology?

    Can someone point it out for me?

    • by sims 2 ( 994794 )

      I don't really see how it's news either.

      It just seems to be a statistic.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The headline says Google and Apple.

      • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

        News - 2. New information of any kind: The requirement was news to him. (https://news.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=9659441&op=Reply&threshold=1&commentsort=0&mode=nested&pid=52898017). Dude it was new information for me ;).

        So it is all about the future. The impact of religions on the economy and the resources those religions are consuming and what exactly are they providing in return. Some do considerable charity work and have a beneficial psychological impact for those who can not to

    • because (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      there are a number of non-religious people who hangout on Slashdot who do not understand a basic right called "freedom of association", and who have been propagandized into not knowing the difference between a tax exemption and a subsidy.

      On the first point:

      Churches are voluntary associations. The church is a collection of people who all pay their taxes on their income and property like anybody else, but who then gather together and chip-in some of their post-tax money for use by the group. Even the people

  • by Anonymous Coward

    At the time, medical opium was a "good" thing. It allowed the populace to deal with inequality, financial hardship due to lack of labor rights, and uncertainty due to lack of social security more easily. When the same shit crops up again, no wonder the same mechanisms get traction.

  • by Crashmarik ( 635988 ) on Thursday September 15, 2016 @10:47PM (#52898065)
    Everyone else cash only.
  • So the whole tech sector is about 5 religion. And the US GDP is 17 religion. It's as good of a totally arbitrary unit as any, I guess.
  • by jrumney ( 197329 ) on Thursday September 15, 2016 @11:12PM (#52898139)
    Given religion's tax exempt status, the real question is whether they pay more in taxes than Google and Apple combined too...
    • by aliquis ( 678370 )

      Apple isn't a religion?

      Seriously I hate the differentiation of political ideology and religion - especially since Islam totally is political and "equal value", feminism, "social justice", "diversity", the new good racism, sexism and inequality and so on are just strong beliefs and not facts or truths at all.

      • Apple isn't a religion?

        Please, you really don't have to give them ideas on how to dodge tax, they're already very good at it.

  • Muslims make up about 1% of the US population, which base don these numbers means a $12B contribution to the economy. How does Donald Trump's policy affect this?
  • Many of these things do not account for the money that would be spent anyway such as food.

    Please calculate using the premium vs average cost. Not optimal but simple and more accurate.

  • So what's "spirituality but not religion" worth?

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Thursday September 15, 2016 @11:29PM (#52898219)

    Of course religions are a great way to make money. You're basically selling a promise you never have to fulfill. Show me one other industry where you can sell something, never deliver and the whole shit is considered legal and even morally ok.

    • by meglon ( 1001833 )
      It's the ultimate long con.
    • by UnknownSoldier ( 67820 ) on Friday September 16, 2016 @12:07AM (#52898323)

      > Show me one other industry where you can sell something, never deliver and the whole shit is considered legal and even morally ok.

      Politics -- "Hope" and "Change" are routinely sold to the public who fall for it. Every. Time.

      Lawyers.

      Insurance -- most are a Ponzi scheme.

      The NSA's and/or FBI's budget.

      • Whenever I see a slogan like that, I think of Oh Brother Where Art Thou? The politician is going to sweep them out of office! Bring real change!

        It's an old political slogan.
      • by linuxguy ( 98493 )
        > Politics -- "Hope" and "Change" are routinely sold to the public who fall for it. Every. Time. Better economy, huge job gains, good stock market performance. Scaled down the wars. No new ones. Not batshit crazy. I suspect all this and more is not enough. It is tough to please griefers.
        • Better economy, huge job gains, good stock market performance. Scaled down the wars. No new ones. Not batshit crazy.

          When you first started listing stuff, I thought you were listing more stupid propaganda techniques that typically work on people with no memories and understanding. The president doesn't control the economy, mate, and they all started new wars.

      • Politics -- "Hope" and "Change" are routinely sold to the public who fall for it. Every. Time.

        Hope and Change aren't sold. They are attempted promises. If Politics wasn't a hamstrung process you would see massive changes. Every. Time. Fortunately it is a hamstrung process which makes democracy a democracy rather than a tyranny of the majority electing a narcissist. And even then you can't argue that America has had no change in the past 6 years.

        Lawyers.

        Lawyers sell representation by someone who is capable of arguing the law. They deliver on that quite well.

        Insurance -- most are a Ponzi scheme.

        I'm not sure if you don't understand Insurance or i

  • by johncandale ( 1430587 ) on Friday September 16, 2016 @12:24AM (#52898361)
    Churches also do the most Charity, real Charity too in the local areas, not only with money but with time you can't easily measure. If you want to meet a bunch of people that really care about the neighborhood, and SHOW it, go hook up with a local congregation. Just like everything there are some bad actors.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 16, 2016 @07:24AM (#52899465)

      > Churches also do the most Charity.

      Any data for this claim?

      Compared to what?
      I assume other local charities like soup kitchens have a greater local impact.
      And how would church charitable activities compare to welfare provided by the government

      A very small percentage of money given to a church actually goes to charity. Most goes to the institution of the church.
      The church itself is not a charity. It is a non-profit, like GoodWill.

      • by Teun ( 17872 )
        As a frequent visitor of the US I've learned many people join a religious congregation just for that, have something to fall back on when times get hard.

        Something that al but disappeared here in N-W Europe when we installed tax sponsored social help like unemployment benefits, good universal health care and pensions for all.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      You dont get any soup until you listen to their sermon about how you're going to be tortured for eternity.

      Thats not charity. Thats carrot & stick.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by drinkypoo ( 153816 )

      Churches also do the most Charity, real Charity too in the local areas,

      Churches do real harm in those areas by pushing their religion. I know personally people who have been thrown out of shelters for refusing to pray or otherwise subject themselves to brainwashing. If it were really about helping people it would come without strings attached. It isn't. It's about brainwashing.

    • by guruevi ( 827432 )

      In my area most charity is non-denominational. There are indeed churches that do charity, but the MAJORITY of them do not and a lot of them only do 'charity' for their own or if you join their services or whatever (Rice Christians).

      The majority of churches are there to line their own pockets and that of their leaders. France tried to crack down on churches that did not do charity but still got tax breaks, suddenly all sorts of churches were joined together and got the EU to rule it's illegal for France to t

  • Well, let's see (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dargaud ( 518470 ) <slashdot2@gd[ ]aud.net ['arg' in gap]> on Friday September 16, 2016 @12:41AM (#52898413) Homepage
    A lot of 'broken window fallacies' in this analysis. It's like calculating the impact of a scam and saying it makes the economy run. And also why do you give 'added' value to the halal and kosher food market ? If there was no religion, they would be normal butcher / supermarkets, with the same value, minus the extra tax taken by the religions, so nothing added here.
  • by H_Fisher ( 808597 ) <hvfisher@NOSpAm.hotmail.com> on Friday September 16, 2016 @01:01AM (#52898459)

    ... is this "news for nerds"? Pun intended, but still. This pisses me off more than any other story I've seen posted here since the new regime took over.

    Slashdot editors, I know you have to pay the bills. I know the temptation is there to post clickbait headlines. I know the Taboola ads are easy money for a lot of sites and if it helps keep the servers running, fine, I can ignore them. But this is enough already. This is pandering. This is such a blatant effort to prop up your ad impressions that it's laughable. What really pisses me off that a site that's supposed to be a forum for tech news — which is why I came here, and why (despite my better judgment) I've stuck around all these years — can't even make an effort to pander while staying on the technology theme of a gorram technology site. This is the worst yet.

    Posting this story to /. is guaranteed to get the flamers and trolls in a tizzy — and I'm sure I'll get modded down to the very depths of frozen Dis for calling a spade a spade, along with the "Stuff that Matters" apologists who'll jump in to point out the second half of what was always this site's slogan. And I'm generally fine with non-tech news when it's actually breaking news, like the "10 dead at Oregon community college" headline that the algorithm seems to think is "relevant" to half the stories on the site. But this is not news on tech. This is not really even news. It's a big, juicy bone for the trolls to fight over, just in time for the weekend. And it's fucking sad. If I wanted to see people get in pissing contests about religion, I'd go hang out on Reddit or, I dunno, the Catholic Answers forums. But that's not why I come to Slashdot, and if this keeps up, I'm going to have less and less reason to come back.

  • This is worthless. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Friday September 16, 2016 @01:41AM (#52898565)

    1. They count Halal and Kosher foods as religious benefits. But if the followers of those religions were not followers, they would eat just as much meat - it would just come from non-religious suppliers.
    2. They count 'business with faith backgrounds' - which is broad enough to include pretty much every business that has a religious owner. Well done, chick-fil-a and Hobby Lobby get to count as economic gains from religion.
    3. Schools and daycare facilities? So if the religion were erased, all those children would just no longer go to school? Any economic activity by these as religious organisations is exactly balanced by activity lost to non-religious organisations, because demand is inelastic.

    I've no doubt that religion in the US is worth a vast amount of money, but this does feel like someone is trying to inflate the numbers.

    Oh, and the authors? Brian Grim and Melissa Grim? Brian actually gives his email as 'Brian@religiousfreedomandbusiness.org' where Melissa is a research fellow. An organisation which describes their purpose this: "The Religious Freedom & Business Foundation educates the global business community about how religious freedom is good for business, and engages the business community in joining forces with government and non-government organizations in promoting respect for freedom of religion or belief."

    Melissa also lists her education as the "Newseum Institute." Which is a political pressure group, not an academic organisation.

    And Brian Grim is president of the "Religious Freedom and Business Foundation" -
    Yeah, sounds totally unbiased and trustworthy.

    So, what I see here are two researchers employed by organisations with the stated goal of making religion look good for business who then write a report in which they very broadly define religion in order to make it look good for business.

    This study should be taken with a giant heap of salt.

    • This.

      Basically this is the equivalent of McDonald's saying yes.. They checked.. Big Mac's really are great for us all.. Time to change your diets!!

      Except if course it uses the common American trick of hiding behind impressive sounding organisations who stand up to almost no scrutiny but usually don't have to because an uneducated public swallow their bs hook line and sinker.

      The real follow the money moment here is there has to be a reason they are trying to push this pile of bs.. And as usual it looks like,

  • by real gumby ( 11516 ) on Friday September 16, 2016 @02:03AM (#52898617)

    Tax-deductions for donations to ~10% of the GDP? That just means the rest of us have to pay more taxes. Absurd.

    • by Tony Isaac ( 1301187 ) on Friday September 16, 2016 @06:31AM (#52899287) Homepage

      Religious institutions, such as the Salvation Army and religious hospitals and shelters, fill many gaps that the government would otherwise have to fund. Religious institutions, as a rule, do so much more efficiently than the government. I believe that if you removed religious charities from the picture, the government would experience a significant net loss trying to deal with the most needy of our citizens. Religion may be tax exempt, but they more than pay their debt to society.

      Are there some frauds in religion? Of course! But there is far more good than bad going on. And let's not kid ourselves, the government has its fair share of frauds as well.

      • by guruevi ( 827432 ) <evi@@@evcircuits...com> on Friday September 16, 2016 @08:55AM (#52899895) Homepage

        Do you have any data to back up that statement? There are plenty if not more non-religious groups that do fund hospitals, shelters, donations, charities etc.

        Most of the religious groups do NOT pay back what they get from society, not even in the slightest, most of them don't even do charity. I'd be all for giving any organization that does charity a tax break (which those tax breaks already exists by the way), but if an organization is run like a business and acts like a business, it should be taxed like a business.

  • now imagine (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Swampash ( 1131503 ) on Friday September 16, 2016 @02:18AM (#52898657)

    if they paid tax

  • Not that I would personally be offended by this post -nor am I a big fan of PC talk or safe spaces - but don't you think it's a bit funny to compare the monetary value of such a cross-cutting, personal and protected area of life to that of companies? How is this different from doing a similar statistic on races and comparing the value of "blackness" to the value of companies?

  • ...that there's a sucker born every minute.

  • by DThorne ( 21879 ) on Friday September 16, 2016 @06:03AM (#52899209)

    I get that there's some value to see the scale of the economics, but isn't bundling all religion into one category and comparing it to individual tech businesses like comparing all companies remotely involved with food to GM? Religion is a pretty massive category containing a crapload of competition.
    As far as good works and all the "is it good or bad" talk, it's ultimately pointless. Like porn, religion ain't going anywhere. The world would be a far, far better place without it, but given human nature it would be replaced with someone equally idiotic, deceitful and hypocritical.
    Do I hate religious practitioners? Naw, not as a group, some are really decent people that feel the need to join a club in order to frame their life. I don't care about that unless they can't keep it out of interactions with others.

  • by FudRucker ( 866063 ) on Friday September 16, 2016 @06:17AM (#52899255)
    "A God who could make good children as easily a bad, yet preferred to make bad ones; who could have made every one of them happy, yet never made a single happy one; who made them prize their bitter life, yet stingily cut it short; who gave his angels eternal happiness unearned, yet required his other children to earn it; who gave is angels painless lives, yet cursed his other children with biting miseries and maladies of mind and body; who mouths justice, and invented hell, mouths mercy, and invented hell, mouths Golden Rules and forgiveness multiplied by seventy times seven, and invented hell; who mouths morals to other people, and has none himself; who frowns upon crimes, yet commits them all; who created man without invitation, then tries to shuffle the responsibility for man's acts upon man, instead of honorably placing it where it belongs, upon himself; and finally, with altogether divine obtuseness, invites his poor abused soul to worship him!" --Mark Twain
  • by bigsexyjoe ( 581721 ) on Friday September 16, 2016 @09:01AM (#52899949)

    I'm religious or anything, but this is not only combining all religions, but all religiously affiliated things in the US. So that means all those hospitals that start with "St." That means a number of universities that seem pretty secular, but actually are actually owned by the Catholic Church. This doesn't just mean the money people put in the basket at Church.

    So understand what this number is before you panic about it.

If I have not seen as far as others, it is because giants were standing on my shoulders. -- Hal Abelson

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