For instance, Wenzhou's Sanjian Church in China's east coast province of Zhejiang was demolished on April 29, 2014, right before the completion of its construction.
In the photo, the left side shows the start of demolition on April 28, and the right side shows the debris left the following day. Authorities cited zoning violations as the reason for the demolition, while other reports suggest that it was part of a move to limit the conspicuous visibility of places of worship. For instance, more recent reports indicate that the campaign includes removal of crosses atop another Wenzhou churches.
A recent Fact-Tank analysis by Pew Researcher Peter Henne documents that "governments damaged the property of religious groups in 34 countries around the world in 2012 ... [and although] such actions were most common in the Middle East-North Africa region (in seven of 20 countries in that region), property was damaged by governments in every region of the world."
Countries with most documented cases were Russia, China and Tajikistan, where more than 100 properties were damaged or destroyed in each during 2012.
The Study: Determining the Economic Halo Effect of Historic Congregations
The study assessed over 50 different factors and found that congregations serve as critical economic catalysts. The study categorized the dozens of ways congregations benefit their communities in three broad areas:
1. direct spending ($28 million); 2. the value of day care and K-12 educational programs ($8.6 million); and 3. a range of catalyzing or leveraging economic values, such as Open Space, Magnet Effect, Individual Impact, Community Development and Invisible Safety Net ($15 million).
- important employers
- purchasers of local goods and services
- magnets for bringing in cash, volunteer time and other resources from outside the city
- educators of pro-social values
- providers of important value through the ‘invisible safety net’ of programs, counseling, and other services that help individuals and families be productive workers and citizens.
Case Study: BBC Reports on Savings Due to Church Keeping People Out of Prison
Piggot notes that it takes $35,000/year to keep a prisoner behind bars in Philadelphia, a city that spends more on its prisons than it does on its schools.
Amachi's volunteers help turn the generational cycle of crime by mentoring the children of prisoners. "I'm here on behalf of your children", he tells inmates at a prison in north Philadelphia, "because if we do nothing, 70% of them will end up in jail themselves."
* “Amachi” is a Nigerian Ibo word that means “Who knows but what God has brought us through this child.” Amachi began in Philadelphia in September 2000 with funding from Pew Charitable Trusts as a partnership between Public/Private Ventures (P/PV) and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southeastern Pennsylvania.
O'Reilly concludes quoting Robert Jaeger, executive director of the research group Partners for Sacred Places, noting that the "study shows the contribution of religious congregations to be 20 to 30 times bigger than we knew. ... It will give congregations dozens of new ways to articulate their value, broaden their constituencies, and survive and grow."
Religious freedom is one of only three factors significantly associated with global economic growth, according to a new study by researchers at Georgetown University's Religious Freedom Project and Brigham Young University. The study looked at GDP growth for 173 countries in 2011 and controlled for two-dozen different financial, social, and regulatory influences.
Religious investors, in economic terms the third largest group to invest on the world’s stock markets, can post high placement profits and remain faithful to their religious creed, as reported by the Academy of Business in Society in the study, From Stewardship to Power: Religious Organizations and their Investment Potentials.