Groundbreaking research finds religion is not only good for the soul, it’s also good for the economy. A new study commissioned by Faith Counts reports the total economic contribution of religion in America to be nearly $1.2 trillion, equal to the world’s 15th largest economy.

Dr. Brian Grim of Georgetown University and Melissa Grim of the Newseum Institute unveiled their new study at a panel event September 14, 2016, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

“For the first time, we have been able to quantify what religious institutions, faith-based charities, and even businesses inspired by faith contribute to our country,” said Dr. Grim. “In an age where there’s a growing belief that religion is not a positive for American society, adding up the numbers is a tangible reminder of the impact of religion.”

“From our work with diverse faith communities across the U.S., we know that despite differences among individual religions, there are many more things that bring us together,” added Kerry Troup, spokeswoman for Faith Counts, a nonprofit, nondenominational organization comprised of many religious communities who represent nearly 80 million Americans.

A preview dinner was held in the nation’s capital on Tuesday night. Those in attendance included (left to right) Dr. Brian Grim, Georgetown University; Rev. Dr. Suzan Johnson Cook, U.S. ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom; Elder Von Keetch, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; Archbishop William E. Lori, Archdiocese of Baltimore; Chaplain Barry Black, U.S. Senate; and Rev. Eugene Rivers, Seymour Institute.

The research, titled “The Socio-Economic Contribution of Religion to American Society: An Empirical Analysis,” analyzed the economic impact of 344,000 religious congregations around the country, in addition to quantifying the economic impact of religious institutions and religion-related businesses.

The findings will be published this fall in the peer-reviewed Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion.

For more information, including the full study and a video summary of the research,