Measuring Faith: Quantifying and Examining Religion's Contributions to American Society

Religion was once viewed as an overwhelmingly positive force in American society. News cycles today, however, often focus on high profile cases of religion's alleged involvement in destructive activities, from clerical abuse to terrorism. Yet religion is an active force in the public, professional, and personal lives of many in the United States. Safeguards for religious freedom—including the First Amendment principles of having no established religion and protecting free religious practice in public and in private, for individuals and communities—have helped to produce a dynamic religious marketplace, including the right of each person to have a religion, change religions, or have no religion at all.
This event debated new research by RFP Associate Scholar Brian Grim that provides the first documented, quantitative national estimates of the value of faith to U.S. society. The RFP hosted Brian Grim, along with Byron Johnson of Baylor University's Institute for Studies of Religion and John DiIulio of the University of Pennsylvania, to discuss and debate the merits as well as limitations of this study. They also identified new lines of inquiry on the socioeconomic impact of religion on the common good and American society today.

This event was co-sponsored by the Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion.

back to top