A short-term increase in church attendance followed the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, as Americans converged to become part of a religious revival.
“Right after 9/11, in America churches were flooded, people (wanted) to become part of a Christian or other represented group,” said Dr. Rick Talbott, religious studies department chair. “Within a matter of months that went away, with a decrease in membership and conversions.”
Except during the months immediately after the attacks, two-thirds of American adults think religion is losing its influence in U.S. society, according to the Barna Research Group.
Post-9/11 faith has not only influenced individual Americans, but altered the country’s international influence and focus.
“The Pentagon was not looking at radical Islamic groups seriously and our whole culture wasn’t taking it seriously,” Talbott said. “After 9/11 our government started looking closely at religious groups.”
This increased awareness has inspired universities across the country, including CSUN, to add Islamic-related courses to their curriculum.
Religious resurgences have been on the rise worldwide, according to Harvey Cox, Hollis research professor of divinity at Harvard. For example, religion in Central American plays a major role in the region’s governance.
Islamic and Christian beliefs have been growing in Africa, as well, Talbott said.
For young people in the U.S., religion is strongly influenced by economy and politics, Talbott said. Former President George W. Bush often spoke openly about his Christian faith.
“As a scholar, it’s a phenomena in the world,” Talbott said. “Religion is part of the political and economical, as well as sociological landscape.”
CSUN students are part of that generation with intertwined political, religious and economical realms, and some do not place weight on a politician’s faith.
“I don’t think it’s that important if our political figures are part of a religious group because not everyone has the same ideology,” said accounting major Pauline Banzon. “In some occasions, if they apply their beliefs toward a situation, it could lead to disagreements and chaos.”
Other students think a person’s spiritual facet could reveal deeper values.
“To me it is important for political figures to have a religious belief,” said Kaya Rodriguez, deaf studies major. “If they have a different belief than mine, I may not necessarily support it but I think its a good thing to have strong values that stand for something.”