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The religious economy is worth $1.2 trillion

How much is religion worth?

The answer is more than megacompanies Apple and Microsoft make in a year combined.

recent study of the U.S. faith economy found religious goods, services and institutions are worth $1.2 trillion a year.

>> Read more trending stories  

Religion might affect America's economy more than you realize. Congregations alone employ hundreds of thousands of people and purchase billions of dollars in goods.

Faith-based elementary schools receive over $15 billion in tuition annually, and that doesn't include middle schools or high schools.

Kosher and halal food sales account for almost another $15 billion. The study's authors didn't include holiday-centered food sales, either, like your usual Christmas dinner menu. That would dramatically increase the faith economy's worth.

Religious health care networks also bring in over $160 billion each year.

Plus, 20 of America's 50 largest charities are faith-based -- accounting for another $45 billion.

The researchers acknowledged their $1.2 trillion estimate is actually a conservative one. Their figure didn't account for the value of religious groups' physical or financial assets, which could make the estimate significantly bigger.

Boy thinks pastor is taking too long, baptizes himself

A Kentucky boy wasn't waiting for anyone during his baptismal ceremony Sunday.

Jordan Warrick, 6, apparently thought the pastor at the West End Baptist Church was taking too long for the big event so he took matters into his own hands.

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Jordan baptized himself in the church's baptismal pool and the event was caught on video and posted to Facebook where it has nearly 5 million views.

My son gave his life to Jesus today.                     For licsensing inquiries please contact licensing@junkinmedia.comPosted by Terence D Warrick on Sunday, September 4, 2016

He first waded into the chilly water before calling out to the congregation "I'll do it." He then dunked himself, coming up out of the water with raised arms and heading to get dried off, the Courier-Journal reported.

Jordan is active in his church. He sings in the children's choir and is a junior usher. He was also the one who decided he was ready to be baptized. His aunt told the Courier-Journal that Jordan wants to be a missionary and spread the word of Christ.

Norway's state church loses 25,000 members

Norway saw a mass exodus of religious membership when more than 25,000 people left the state church in less than three weeks.

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The exodus happened after The Church of Norway enabled a new online option Aug. 12 that allows citizen to join and leave the church electronically.

More than 10,000 people deregistered within 24 hours of the site's launch, and within four days, more than 15,000 had left, the Independent reported.

"The number of withdrawals must be seen in relation to the large number of members of the Norwegian Church," Helga Haugland Byfuglien, head of the Norwegian Bishops' Conference, said in a statement on the church's website. "We have great respect for individual choice."

 About 1,200 new members joined online in the same time period.

"No one who doesn't wish to be a member of the Church of Norway should be registered as a member," said Kristin Gunleiksrud Raaum, leader of the church's national council. "I'm very happy that almost 1,300 chose to join in August."

The electronic offering was put in place as a way for the church to get its "records in shape and offer an easy way for people to sign up," the Independent reported.

"We will continue to have a broad and open national church. But no one should be a member of a religious community against their will, and therefore I am glad that this self-solution is in place," Raaum said. "Those who mistakenly listed as a member of the Norwegian Church or who do not wish to be members can now easily change their status, and it will give us a more accurate registry."

About 73 percent of the population counted as members of the Church of Norway in 2015, according to the AP, but a significant portion of those people may have been among those who deregistered this year.

The AP reported that the country is among the most secular countries in the world, and a recent survey of 4,000 Norwegians showed this year that non-believers outnumber religious people with 39 percent saying they didn't belive in God, 37 percent saying they did and an additional 23 percent of respondents saying they did not know, The Local reported.

Norway, which previously required at least half of all government ministers to be members of the Church, did away with the Evangelical Lutheran religion as the official state religion in 2012, but the country maintains a constitution built upon "Christian and humanistic heritage," and the king is required to be Lutheran.

Church plans to use drones to drop thousands of Bibles in the Middle East

Video includes clips and images from Livets Ord, and an image from Getty Images. Music provided courtesy of APM Music.

An evangelical church in Sweden is looking to convert Muslims in the Middle East to Christianity, and it's planning to use military drones to do so.

The Livets Ord church, whose name translates to "Word of Life," announced this week it's going to use the drones to release thousands of small, electronic Bibles into closed areas in the Middle East.

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The church's mission director told local news station SVT the Bibles are the size of pill boxes and don't require any electricity to work.

They'll reportedly be dropped from a high altitude by a contractor hired by the church.

Since the announcement, Livets Ord's project has faced criticism from several media outlets for attempting an "attack" of sorts on ISIS.

But the church's senior pastor said in a blog post: "This is not a political statement, nor a spiritual counter attack on terrorism. What we want is to make the message of God's love available to people who need it more than most."

It's unclear if the church or its contractor would need security clearance to carry out the Bible drops. Livets Ord said it hopes to begin the mission in the next few weeks.

Pastor mocks misogyny, challenges any woman to arm wrestle him

A pastor in Arizona who insists that the “husband’s the head of the wife” offered a challenge to any woman who thinks otherwise.

Pastor Steven L. Anderson of Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe is challenging women to arm wrestle him.

The YouTube account associated with Anderson offers the following description: “Independent, fundamental, soul-winning, King James Bible-only, Baptist Church in Phoenix Tempe, AZ pastored by Steven L Anderson.”

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In a sermon posted Aug. 3 on YouTube, Anderson lamented that in modern society, husbands have no authority over their wives, even though the Bible teaches that the husband is the head of the wife. He mocked the concept of misogyny, saying it is a “stupid word” and “like a new word.” In fact, the term’s origins date back to the mid-17th century.

Warning: Gay slur used, viewer discretion advised

Anderson said he rejects such “trendy concepts” and that “people have been doing it my way for the last 6,000 years — in all cultures, pretty much, in all nations of the world, and it’s worked out great for a lot of people.”

Anderson used a gay slur to refer to modern society’s take on marriage, where men and women are supposed to be the same, urging Christians to follow a “Biblical lifestyle” when it comes to their marriages.

The pastor said that women are happier when men take the leadership role because women are “not wired to want to be in charge or rule over a man.”

Anderson gave his take on what women are looking for in a man, saying “women don’t want to be married to a weakling.” Anderson said that even feminists deep down want men to rule over them and be their leader.

Near the end of the sermon clip, Anderson said he’s called a misogynist because he thinks women are weaker than men and challenged women to prove him wrong by arm wrestling. He claimed that if any woman in the audience arm wrestled him and beat him, he would admit that women were as strong as men.

No women in the audience took the challenge.

Anderson said he has made the offer before and about five women have taken him up on it, with Anderson claiming all five women “went down, and they went down hard.”

The pastor said he even made his wife take the arm wrestling challenge, though she didn’t want to do it.

Cross taken from man making cross-country pilgrimage

A man who is making a cross-country pilgrimage to strengthen his faith has come upon a difficult situation.

The cross that Mitchell Manning has been dragging on his trek between Florida and California has been taken, KCBD reported.

Manning, who is from Tennessee started his quest in Jacksonville, Florida, in October and so far he has made it to Texas, but his trip has been delayed in Seminole, Texas.

The 12-foot symbol of his faith was taken over the weekend and he said he will not continue his walk until he finds it or rebuilds one.

Posted by Cross Walk America on Monday, November 9, 2015

He left it in a ditch Sunday when he was offered a place to stay. 

"The cross is so big, it's hard to carry even if you have a truck, so I've always just left it on the side of the road in the grass," Manning told KCBD.

Manning camps some nights during the trip, other nights he either stays in a stranger's home or someone pays for a hotel room. 

He has reached out on Facebook about the missing cross, asking for any information as to its location.

I left my cross at the park in Seminole TX Sunday, it is missing now. I checked with TxDOT and they said they didn't move it. I may have to build another one. If  anyone has seen it, please message me.Posted by Cross Walk America on Tuesday, July 12, 2016

If you would like to keep track of Manning's quest, see below, or click here. You can also follow him on his Facebook page.

Mom captures touching moment when her 6-year-old son prays with police officers

Kelly Garza may have had one of the proudest mommy moments ever after seeing her 6-year-old son, Joshua, leading a prayer with three police officers.

>> Click here to see the Facebook post

<script>(function(d, s, id) {<br />  var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];<br />  if (d.getElementById(id)) return;<br />  js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id;<br />  js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&amp;version=v2.6";<br />  fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);<br />}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));</script>My sweet boy prayed over these officers, for safety and thanked them for their service. #BobEvans #ThankYou #BloodandBluePosted by Kelly R. Garza on Monday, June 20, 2016

Garza and Joshua had just finished eating breakfast at a Bob Evans in St. Petersburg, Florida. On their way out, her little boy confidently approached the police officers and held their hands as he sat at the end of the table.

“My sweet boy prayed over these officers for safety and thanked them for their service,” she wrote on her Facebook account.

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She took a picture as her son sat at the end of the table, holding the police officers’ hands and praying as he was taught.

“Joshua is being brought up in a very loving church, where he has learned that it’s OK to share his faith and that it’s an act of love to pray for others,” she wrote.

The St. Petersburg Police Department also shared the photo on Facebook.

>> Click here to see the post

Officer Williams, Officer Blackshear and Officer Mitchell were honored to pray with this young man this morning.Posted by St. Petersburg Police Department on Tuesday, June 21, 2016

“Officer Williams, Officer Blackshear and Officer Mitchell were honored to pray with this young man this morning,” it read.

Ohio students told not to sing the Lord's Prayer at graduation had this bold response

Seniors at an Ohio high school are making headlines with their defiant response after being told not to sing the Lord's Prayer during their graduation ceremony.

According to WTOV, the prayer has been included in East Liverpool High School's commencement for seven decades. But that tradition looked like it was going to come to an end this year after the Freedom From Religion Foundation told the school to remove the prayer from the program because it violates the separation of church and state.

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"We said, 'OK, we just won't do it anymore,'" school board President Larry Walton told WTOV. "It was a decision made because we don't have a lot of money, and we'd rather hire teachers than pay lawyers."

But the graduating class had other ideas. When valedictorian Jonathan Montgomery came onstage to speak Sunday, he led his fellow students in reciting the prayer. Afterward, the audience gave the grads a standing ovation.

>> Click here to watch

Parents capture touching photo of brother and sister praying before school

A touching photo shows two siblings taking some time to reflect before parting ways for the day.

The picture shared on Facebook by WJTV in Jackson, Mississippi, shows the kids standing in a driveway in front of their home. The boy, Jordan Wyatt, is dressed for school, wearing a white shirt tucked into his khakis.

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His little sister, Marlie Rain, wearing pajamas and her mother’s shoes, is holding both of his hands. Their eyes are closed in prayer.

The image, posted Thursday, has gone viral, with more than 4,000 shares and 8,900 likes.

“Since there is so much negativity being shown, especially with the youth, we can perhaps show some positive influence to other parents as well as the youth… Prayer changes things,” parent Juan Wyatt wrote.

Read more here.

>> Click here to see the Facebook post

Man admits to pulling off a woman's hijab on an airplane

North Carolina man pleaded guilty to "forcibly" pulling off a woman's hijab during a Southwest Airlines flight.

Gill Parker Payne admitted that he walked up to the stranger wearing the religious headscarf and told her to take it off during a flight from Chicago to Albuquerque at the end of last year.

>> Click here to watch the video from Newsy

In the plea agreement, Payne also admitted to saying something like "Take it off! This is America!" and pulling the woman's hijab completely off.

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The U.S. Attorney for the District of New Mexico said: "This prosecution sends a clear message to anyone who contemplates the use of threats or intimidation to interfere with the right of individuals, including members of our Muslim community, to express their faith without fear."

Payne faces up to a year of imprisonment and a $100,000 fine. A date for his sentencing hearing has not been set. 

This video includes an image from sittiealiah M A / CC BY 2.0.

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