US faith economy better than combined revenues of top 10 US tech companies

Georgetown University in Washington DC found finds religion in the United States is worth more than $1 trillion a year, making it equivalent to the 15th largest national economy in the world.

Religion can be lucrative, but very few are making a killing.

Houston Baptist University assistant professor of government and philosophy Shannon Holzer said religion is not a multi-billion dollar business like the tech industry.

"It gives the impression that the churches are rolling in dough, when in fact, most of them are right on the edge of just making budget and if they have anything left over, they've done a very good job," said Holzer.

He said running a church is an expensive business.

"Most of their money goes to either to the maintenance of the building, or the ministries which they serve. And, then there's just the salaries in between of those," said Holzer. "Churches will either be in the black or in the red and churches are generally really good about budgeting, and so if they do it well, they will have some money in the bank reserved for a rainy day."

He said for a pastor to actually make a full-time salary, it requires 10 members consistently tithing 10 percent of their income.

Holzer said churches are normally run at 501(c)(3) charities. Christianity is not one big business that pays out dividends. Each religion and church is independently run.

The study found hundreds of thousands of people are employed by nearly 345,000 independent congregations across America and billions of dollars are spent. On top of that, almost two dozen of the top 50 charities in the US are faith-based.

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