New York-area residents are more spiritually active since 9/11,
a new survey shows, but the uptick in faith may be a matter of coincidence
rather than a religious response to the terrorist attacks.
The Barna Group found that 46 percent of people living in or
near New York City reported attending worship services in the previous week in
2010, up from 31 percent in 2000. However, the upward trend didn’t kick in
until after 2004, said David Kinnaman, Barna’s president.
“The research suggests that faith and religion took on new
urgency for many New Yorkers after 9/11, but the impact was neither immediate nor
long-lived,” said Kinnaman. “While … religion’s importance did grow in the
years after 9/11, church attendance and active faith
measures did not really start increasing until after 2004.”
Researchers found that more New Yorkers are spending time
reading the Bible on their own, up from 29 percent in 1997-98 to 35 percent in 2009-10.
Nationwide, personal Bible reading has remained essentially unchanged in the
The latest figures also show that 61 percent of New
York-area residents agree strongly that religious faith is very important in
their lives, compared to 72 percent of U.S. adults.
Kinnaman said there could be numerous reasons for the
changes in religious activity, including the 9/11 attacks, the weakening
economy and an influx of immigrants who are more religiously observant.
“Whatever the combination of causes, the residents of the
New York City region are more spiritually active, more likely to be ‘churched,’
and more committed to Christ than they were a decade ago,” he said.
The findings are based on 3,406 interviews conducted in the
New York City media market between 1997 and 2010.