How Religion Contributes to American Prosperity

While it may seem counterintuitive, if not sacrilegious, to place a dollar value on the service of God, a 2016 study tries to do just that, concluding, in Brian Grim’s words, that “religion is responsible for $1.2 trillion of socioeconomic value annually to the U.S. economy.” This number includes the economic value of congregations and other religious institutions, as well as “faith-based, faith-related, or faith-inspired businesses.” But Grim argues that this contribution is different from that of, say, a business that employs the same number of people.

Each year congregations spend $84 billion on their operations, ranging from paying hundreds of thousands of personnel to paying for goods and services as diverse as flowers, sounds systems, maintenance, and utilities. Almost all is spent right in the local community. Congregations are like magnets attracting economic activity ranging from weddings to lectures, conventions, and even tourism.

But it’s what congregations do in their communities that makes the biggest contribution. Congregations provide 130,000 alcohol-recovery programs such as the Saddleback Church’s Celebrate Recovery program that has helped more than 27,000 individuals over the past 25 years. Congregations also provide 120,000 programs to help the unemployed. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has employment-service centers across the country (and world).

If we extend our view beyond what happens at local congregations and schools, we can find tens of thousands of other religiously affiliated charities, healthcare facilities, and institutions of higher learning also doing these sorts of good works every day. . . . There are thousands of religiously based colleges, such as Jewish-affiliated Brandeis University, throughout the country.

Religion-related businesses also add another $438 billion to the U.S. economy each year. These include faith-based enterprises, ranging from halal- and kosher-food industries to religious media such as [the Catholic] EWTN and the [evangelical] Christian Broadcasting Network. The largest group within this sector is not religious companies, per se, but faith-inspired or religion-friendly companies. Tyson’s Foods, for example, employs a large force of chaplains for its multireligious workforce.

Read more at Deseret News

More about: American Religion, Charity, Economics

Universities Are in Thrall to a Constituency That Sees Israel as an Affront to Its Identity

Commenting on the hearings of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce on Tuesday about anti-Semitism on college campuses, and the dismaying testimony of three university presidents, Jonah Goldberg writes:

If some retrograde poltroon called for lynching black people or, heck, if they simply used the wrong adjective to describe black people, the all-seeing panopticon would spot it and deploy whatever resources were required to deal with the problem. If the spark of intolerance flickered even for a moment and offended the transgendered, the Muslim, the neurodivergent, or whomever, the fire-suppression systems would rain down the retardant foams of justice and enlightenment. But calls for liquidating the Jews? Those reside outside the sensory spectrum of the system.

It’s ironic that the term colorblind is “problematic” for these institutions such that the monitoring systems will spot any hint of it, in or out of the classroom (or admissions!). But actual intolerance for Jews is lathered with a kind of stealth paint that renders the same systems Jew-blind.

I can understand the predicament. The receptors on the Islamophobia sensors have been set to 11 for so long, a constituency has built up around it. This constituency—which is multi-ethnic, non-denominational, and well entrenched among students, administrators, and faculty alike—sees Israel and the non-Israeli Jews who tolerate its existence as an affront to their worldview and Muslim “identity.” . . . Blaming the Jews for all manner of evils, including the shortcomings of the people who scapegoat Jews, is protected because, at minimum, it’s a “personal truth,” and for some just the plain truth. But taking offense at such things is evidence of a mulish inability to understand the “context.”

Shocking as all that is, Goldberg goes on to argue, the anti-Semitism is merely a “symptom” of the insidious ideology that has taken over much of the universities as well as an important segment of the hard left. And Jews make the easiest targets.

Read more at Dispatch

More about: Anti-Semitism, Israel on campus, University