Summary: Just one year ago church attendance and talk about God skyrocketed as we dealt with the uncertainty of life after the attack on the Twin Towers and Pentagon. People prayed, read God’s Word, and called upon God from churches, schools, and even government b
“Have We Forgotten?”
One year ago churches all over America were calling special times of prayer. Talk about God and His promises of peace and protection were echoing throughout the land. People who normally would not have given God a thought, were suddenly struck with an urgent desire to pray, read God’s Word, and attend church. What brought about this surge in interest in the things of God? We had just watched the Twin Towers fall by a terrorist attack and many were wondering if more attacks were on the way. There was mass uncertainty and confusion racing throughout the land. We had thought that we were secure. We had thought that America’s borders were impenetrable. We had thought that America was the land of the free and the home of the brave. Then we heard about Anthrax coming to us through the mail, terrorist cells in our own country, and more.
Those events that took place on our own soil shook us like we had never been shaken before. With fear holding many in its clutches we heard a multitude of voices crying out to God for protection and peace. Many preachers believed that we were standing on the verge of a great revival as church attendance skyrocketed and many were coming to know Christ.
As we look back on the past year and the anniversary of 9/11 has just taken place, we have to ask, “Have we forgotten?” Have we forgotten the urgency that we possessed just one year ago? Have we forgotten the conversations we had about God, what the Bible had to say about the events that took place, and our hunger to know the peace that only comes from walking with the Lord each and every day? Have we forgotten?
George Barna, the founder of the Barna Research Group has recently conducted some polls that answer these questions for us. Barna writes,
Many religious leaders suggested that the terrorist attacks of 9-11 were a spiritual wake up call for America. While a new survey on the spiritual implications and response to the attacks suggests that people’s religious beliefs and practices have not changed in the past year, nearly half of the population claims that their faith was a critical resource in helping them to personally respond to the attacks.
It is interesting to me that Barna discovered that although people’s beliefs and practices have not changed during the past year, faith did help them through the tragedy. That would lead me to believe that faith, for many Americans, is more like a prescription than a part of their everyday life. Some of George Barna’s specific findings gathered through his survey are as follows:
· During the past twelve months, there has been no lasting change in people’s religious practices. Immediately after the attacks, church attendance spiked for several weeks, rising to about half of the adult public attending religious services during a typical week. That attendance boon proved to be short-lived, though, as levels were back to normal by November.
· In its national tracking of religious behavior during the past year, Barna Research data shows virtually no change in levels of Bible reading (currently 41% in a typical week compared to 39% in a survey completed three weeks prior to the attack), church attendance (43% now, 42% before the attack), prayer (83% now versus 84% in August 2001), adult Sunday school attendance (presently 22%, similar to the 19% last year), and small group involvement (19% now, 16% then).
· Barna has tracked a dozen religious and moral beliefs during the past 12 months. There has not been a single, statistically significant change in any of the twelve items during that time. Among the core beliefs followed have been:
· "God is the all-powerful, all-knowing perfect creator of the universe who rules our world today." (69% concur)
· "The Bible is totally accurate in all of its teachings." (61% agree)
· "Satan is not a living being but is just a symbol of evil." (59% agree)
· Eternal spiritual salvation can be earned by doing enough good deeds. (51% agree)
· "When He lived on earth, Jesus Christ committed sins." (40% agree)
· One of the perspectives researched relates to views on moral truth. The percentage of adults who base their moral and ethical choices on principles drawn from the Bible has remained fixed at one out of seven (14%).
I do not believe that it takes a preacher to study these findings and come to the conclusion that we who one year ago cried out to God in our schools, churches, and even in the halls of government have now forgotten the God who has preserved our country during these last 365 days. George Barna writes about how stunned he was when he viewed the final results of his poll.