WMU News

Americans have renewed interest in religion

Dec. 4, 2001

KALAMAZOO -- It seems that more Americans may be thinking about the "reason for the season" during the holidays this year as religious interest has surged in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

According to Dr. Brian Wilson, chairperson of the WMU Department of Comparative Religion and an expert on American religions, polls have shown that attendance in American churches has increased since the national tragedy.

"The polls show that the terrorist attacks are one of the reasons that people are going back to church, but what the polls don't show is why," says Wilson. "Why is church so comforting to people during times of insecurity? I imagine if you look at American history, in times of past insecurity there were increases in church attendance as well."

But don't expect creches to replace Santa and the Christmas tree at your local mall just yet. Wilson says that while Americans are experiencing a renewal in religious leanings, the holidays are still very much about consumerism.

"Thanksgiving and Christmas are so commercialized, it would take something really major to blast Americans out of their consumerist tendencies," he says. "Even our political leaders are telling us to get out and buy for the holidays. Not because of religion, but because its good for the economy."

Media contact: Marie Lee, 269 387-8400, marie.lee@wmich.edu

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