Whenever I teach religion reporting to college students, one of the first things I do is hand them a copy of an article by the late George Cornell of the Associated Press. It posed the question of what is of greater interest to Americans: Religion or sports?
Many people would choose sports but no, Americans in 1992 spent $56.7 billion on religion compared to $4 billion on sports, he wrote. I love giving people copies of Cornell’s piece.
Yes, it's old news. However, my colleague tmatt has written about its continuing impact. I have mourned the lack of a similar article with more recent data.
Until now. Recently, the Washington Post’s religion blog Articles of Faith told us there’s a new study out. The headline: “Study: Religion contributes more to the U.S. economy than Facebook, Google and Apple combined.”
I bet that got peoples’ attention.
Religion is big business. Just how big? A new study, published Wednesday by a father-daughter researcher team, says religion is bigger than Facebook, Google and Apple -- combined.
The article in the Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion said that the annual revenues of faith-based enterprises -- not just churches but hospitals, schools, charities and even gospel musicians and halal food makers -- is more than $378 billion a year. And that’s not counting the annual shopping bonanza motivated by Christmas.
Georgetown University’s Brian Grim and the Newseum’s Melissa Grim -- in a study sponsored by an organization called Faith Counts, which promotes the value of religion -- produced a 31-page breakdown of all the ways religion contributes to the U.S. economy.
Take a guess where the bulk of that money is concentrated.