Stance: Studies on the Family

Brigham Young University Student Journal

Tag: Faith

Faith Counts: New study looks at religion by the numbers

In a video called “Faith by the Numbers,” Brian Grim discusses the amount of social programs that religion offers to the public, adding up to about 1.5 million. (Faith Counts YouTube)

This graphic details the expenditures of religion and religious-affiliated businesses. (Faith Counts)

A recent study quantified the economic impact of religious institutions and religion-related businesses throughout the U.S.

The study, entitled “The Socio-economic Contribution of Religion to American Society: An Empirical Analysis,” is the first of its kind and was conducted by Brian Grim of Georgetown University and Melissa Grim of the Newseum Institute. They held a panel event at the National Press Club on Sept. 14, 2016 to reveal their groundbreaking study.

“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,” Grim said at a Sept. 14 panel. “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.”

This pie chart shows the socio-economic contributions of religion to American Society. (Faith Counts)

According to the study, religion contributes nearly $1.2 trillion to the US economy. Congregations and religiously-oriented charity groups contributed 130,000 programs for alcohol and drug abuse recovery, 121,000 programs for support or skills training for unemployed adults and 94,000 programs to support veterans and their families.

“People at various times have various needs,” said church history professor Richard Holzapfel. “You have church that is relieving the pressure on state institutions.”

Holzapfel said religion offers a substantial amount of support for character development, which cannot always be calculated. However, he said this development can be seen in the LDS Church through missions, the counseling offered to individuals through bishops and church programs addressing various struggles.

This chart shows the number of programs religious organizations put on for various social issues. (Faith Counts)

“What would that cost the state if the church didn’t provide those services?” Holzapfel said. “It would be massive. We would overwhelm the welfare department, the juvenile court systems; the impact must be tremendous.”

Faith Counts, a multi-faith non-profit organization promoting the value of faith, sponsored the study. According to the “Faith by the Numbers” video on their website, religion institutions are not just houses of workshop, but the “nucleus of many communities, centers for education, job training, charity, childcare and social events.”

The video also states that religious institutions fund over 1.5 million social programs. Hunter Buxton, an economics major, was surprised by the findings.

“I had no idea,” Buxton said. “That’s not something you hear about a lot in economic circles of news.”

Buxton said this study and influence on religion should be talked about more because it could “definitely benefit the way America sees religions in general.”

More information about this study can be found on the Faith Counts website.

Emma Smith: How Much Could One Heart Take?

Emma Smith is a source of contestation and conflicting viewpoints for many within the LDS community. A popular song (at least amongst missionaries I served with) about Emma Smith has the refrain “How much could one heart take?” as it’s main theme. The popularity of the song concerns me. Not because of hatred or ill-will towards Emma, but because the theme of the song seems to be justifying actions that move us away from the Church as long as our lives are hard. A sentiment that does not seem to be scripturally supported (God will not suffer you to be tempted above that which ye are able, anyone?) and is potentially damaging.

image from here

This is not to say however that we should shift the pendulum to the other side and judge Emma or anyone else for their choices, because we do not understand what they are going through and what experiences led them to make the choices that they did. We should strive for a middle ground, where we seek to understand and empathize with others, without judging or justifying their behavior, two-sides of the same coin. Both of these place us in a position where we make a final determination about someone’s intentions or worthiness, which is well beyond our place as mere mortals, flawed and trying to find our way in this crazy world.

Section 25 of the Doctrine and Covenants is revelation specifically for Emma, however it closes with the following verse: “And verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my voice unto all. Amen” (D&C 25:16). All can draw from the counsel given to Emma and apply the principles in our own lives.

“And verily I say unto thee that thou shalt lay aside the things of this world, and seek for the things of a better” (D&C 25:10). We can “lay aside the things of this world” by ceasing to justify or judge ourselves and others and “seek for the things of a better” by seeing the potential that we all have. We must look past the flawed choices that others make to find the intentions and motivations that drove them. We must seek understanding, so that we can love one another.

—Conor Hilton, Stance: Studies on the Family

Moroccan, Islamic Women and Latter-day Saints

When I first read the title “Moroccan Women’s Integration of Family and Religion,” I was at once piqued. I am always eager to learn new insights into other cultures and religions, and Donna Lee Bowen gives an insightful account of her findings from the women’s lives she submerged herself in.

image from here

Islam is the dominant religion in Morocco, making the majority of its population Muslim. As I continued to read the article, I was presented with facts about Islam, and the people who follow it, that I had never heard before in a history class.

A controversial topic in Western Society is the inequality of Muslim women. But as Bowen points out, when laws and customs are taken out of their social context of course they seem unequal. One law gives twice the amount of a wife’s inheritance to her husband than vice versa. To members of Western society this screams of gender inequality, but the purpose of this law is to give male family members more of the inheritance so that they can take care of the women. Not unequal, but a check to make sure everyone in the family can support each other. Pondering over this example, and other examples that Bowen gives, I began to see parallels between Islam and Mormonism.

Moroccan, Islamic Woman (image from here)

How much anti-Mormon literature takes quotes and statements out of context, using them to slander our religion? How many people have been turned away from the Gospel of Christ because of a misconstrued myth about Mormon culture? It happens all the time to Latter-day Saints, and reviewing what I hear on the news and other media sources it happens to Muslims, as well.

Now I am not saying that every Muslim custom is misunderstood, but I believe that a religion that champions family and equal family roles deserves understanding. Ignorance is the main cause of misunderstanding, but knowledge can bring enlightenment. After reading this article, I believe that as a Latter-day Saint who seeks to enlighten those who misunderstand my beliefs and culture, I must first enlighten myself to my misunderstandings of others.

—BrookeAnn Henriksen, Stance: Studies on the Family

Grande Mosque Hassan II, a mosque in Casablanca, Morocco (image from here)