We know the economy’s in bad shape. We know the recession hurt a lot of industries. But even I was shocked to see just how much of a drop there has been over the past decade when it comes to religious construction (i.e. building churches).
The latest report from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis website puts the finishing touches on this incredible chart:
Okay, so around $3,500,000,000 is still being spent on constructing buildings for religious purposes — not too shabby — but that’s still a *huge* fall from the nearly $9,000,000,000 that was being spent in 2002.
Mamta Badkar at Business Insider summarizes the data:
… private religious construction spending was down 7.3% on the month and 12.7% on the year.
But construction spending on religious institutions has been on a long-term, secular decline for some time now.
You might argue that this is all the result of saturation — there are already churches everywhere, so why build new ones? — but I don’t buy that. Christians build churches for the same reason they continue to proselytize despite being in the majority: it’s all about growing the empire.
(Thanks to Tom for the link!)