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Religion Contributes $1.2 Trillion Each Year to US Economy

Credit: Jeff Weese via PexelsJerry Maguire yelled Show me the money. James said Show me your good works. And a new study says How about both? According to the findings from Brian and Melissa Grim, “Religion in the United States today contributes $1.2 trillion each year to our economy and society.” Published in the Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion, the Grims’ research reveals that the country has never been more dependent on the contributions religious people make to society, specifically from a socio-economic perspective. Religion may be dangerous to some but it is beneficial to all.

To put this figure into perspective, this is more than the annual revenues of the top ten tech organizations combined. This list includes Apple, Google, and Microsoft. Or to put it another way, this is what $1.2 trillion dollars looks like each year according to American spending habits:

Groceries ($478 billion), fast food ($117 billion), illegal drugs ($100 billion), beer ($96 billion), soft drinks ($65 billion), pets ($60 billion), tobacco ($40 billion), child care ($47 billion), gambling ($34.6 billion), dollar store purchases ($30 billion), professional sports ($25.4 billion), credit card late fees ($18 billion), video games ($17 billion), Easter ($16.8 billion), bottled water ($11 billion), engagement and wedding rings ($11 billion), coffee ($11 billion), romance novels ($10 billion), sinus treatments ($5.8 billion), perfume ($4.2 billion) and over-the-counter teeth whiteners ($1.4 billion).

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What is Aleppo? Where is the grace?

Credit: Sputnik via APShakespeare thought "To be or not to be?" was the question, but Gary Johnson had a different question. The Libertarian presidential candidate was visibly stumped Thursday morning on an open-ended question about the Syrian civil war. Asked on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" what he would do about Aleppo—the major Syrian city that has been a stronghold for opposition forces and under siege by Bashar Assad's government—Johnson responded: "And what is Aleppo?"

Journalist Mike Barnicle responded, "You're kidding." Johnson was not. "Aleppo is in Syria. … It's the epicenter of the refugee crisis," Barnicle responded. "Okay, got it," Johnson said, and went on to call Syria a "mess."

Following the interview, the Johnson campaign responded, saying: "This morning, I began my day by setting aside any doubt that I'm human. Yes, I understand the dynamics of the Syrian conflict — I talk about them every day." Continuing, Johnson noted: "But hit with 'What about Aleppo?' I immediately was thinking about an acronym, not the Syrian conflict. I blanked. It happens, and it will happen again during the course of this campaign."

Johnson has been rising in the polls as of late. Former Republican candidate Mitt Romney just yesterday called for Johnson and his vice presidential candidate Bill Weld to be included in the fall debates. To qualify, they need to be polling at fifteen percent. Currently they are at ten.

Seeking to reassure voters and potential supporters, Johnson concluded: "Can I name every city in Syria? No. Should I have identified Aleppo? Yes. Do I understand its significance? Yes," he said.

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Teens read the Bible like their parents. Is that good news?

Credit: George Bannister via FlickrBarna recently polled a group of more than a thousand teens, aged thirteen to seventeen, to see how they interact with the Bible. For the most part, the results were fairly encouraging. Sixty-six percent of practicing Protestant teens saying that they read the Bible on their own at least once a week, with forty-three percent saying that they spend an average of fifteen to twenty-nine minutes with God's word when they open it.

However, the most interesting findings relate to the connection between parents who read their Bibles and teens who do the same. Roughly half of practicing Protestant teens reported seeing their parents reading Scripture on a regular basis, with another forty-two percent saying that they see their parents read the Bible at least occasionally. And while kids seeing their parents studying God's word doesn't guarantee that they will as well, fifty-five percent of teens who read Scripture once a week have parents who do the same, and only ten percent rarely or never see their parents open the Bible.

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Surprising findings about why people go to church

Credit: Nikko Tan via PexelsThe decline of religion, and Christianity specifically, is a common theme among many in the church today. Statistics routinely focus on the growth of those who do not consider themselves religious and the problems plaguing God's people in America. A new study by the Pew Research Center, however, paints a slightly different picture.

Researchers found a roughly fifty-fifty split between Americans who go to church regularly—defined as at least once or twice a month—and those who do not. Of those who attend regularly, twenty-seven percent say they now go more often than they used to. Conversely, only twenty-two percent of those who do not frequent a church or other religious community used to attend more often than they currently do. For Christians, those numbers are even better, with roughly two-thirds of those claiming to follow Christ attending at least a couple times a month and thirty-five percent doing so more often than in the past.

That means more than a third of all Christians and more than a quarter of all Americans have become more active in regards to their faith in recent years. Coupled with the fact that a smaller percentage of people are moving away from their faith than those who are moving towards it, the trends paint a far more encouraging picture than we often have of the religious landscape in our culture.

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Facebook blocks ad blockers (and they probably should)

Credit: Jeff Chiu via APThere used to be an easy solution to those annoying little ads on Facebook that make it harder to focus on the diversion of keeping up with other people's lives. Ad blockers were the go-to answer for many who tired of slower load times, imbedded tracking software, and the host of other inconveniences that so often accompany those messages about products you most likely don't want. However, that's all changed now—at least on Facebook—as the social media giant announced on Tuesday that they've found a way to block the ad blockers.

By formatting their ads in a way that renders them indistinguishable from normal content, blockers can no longer rely on differences in coding to filter out the things people want from the things they don't. For a company that generated the majority of its $17.93 billion in revenue last year from paid advertisements, making sure those ads actually get to the consumer is a vital part of their business model.

But while Facebook needs that revenue, they understand that most people don't go to their site to check out the latest developments in unsolicited marketing. That's why the company gives its users the chance to help determine what kinds of ads they will see. You can now opt out of seeing certain types of ads if you find them too distracting or simply aren't interested in what they're selling. The hope is that such options will create a middle ground of sorts that benefits both the users and the advertisers.

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