I bet you know there's money in religion - but did you know that big religion accounts for $1.2 trillion in income, yearly, in the United States? That's more than the 10 biggest tech companies combined!
Religious organizations make their money, tax-free, according to a recent report, from the following: “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.”
The authors of the program note that while religion is itself appears on the decline, spending on religious social programs has more than tripled since 2001, to $9 trillion!
Co-authors Brian J. Grim (of Georgetown University) and Melissa Grim (of the Newseum Institute in Washington, D.C.) came up with three estimates of the worth of US religion. The lowest, at $378 billion, took into account only the revenues of faith-based organisations. The middle estimate, $1.2 trillion, 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 $4.8 trillion 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.”
You can, and perhaps should, read the full critique here.