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Interfaith Worship Doubled
Since 9/11, But Remains Low
BY PIET LEVY ©2011 Religion News Service
nterfaith worship services have doubled in the decade since the 9/11 attacks, according to a new study released September 7, even as more than seven in 10 U.S. congregations do not associate with other faiths.
The survey by an interfaith group of researchers found that about 14 percent of U.S. congregations surveyed in 2010 engaged in a joint religious celebration with another faith tradition, up from 6.8 percent in 2000.
Interfaith community service grew nearly threefold, with 20.4 percent of congregations reporting participation in 2010, up from 7.7 percent in 2000, according to the Cooperative Congregations Studies Partnership.
After the 9/11 attacks, "Islam and Islamics' presence in the U.S. (became) visible in a way that you couldn't ignore," said David A. Roozen, one of the report's authors and the director of the Hartford Institute for Religion Research at Hartford Seminary in Connecticut.
National Muslim groups tried to build bridges to other faiths, who in turn "reached out in new ways to be neighborly," he said. Reform Jewish congregations led the way, with two-thirds participating in interfaith worship and three-quarters involved in interfaith community service.
The largest percentage of interfaith-worshipping congregations (20.6 percent) was in the Northeast, which is home to a disproportionate percentage of more liberal mainline Protestant churches. About 17 percent of interfaith-worshipping congregations are in a big city or older suburb, where greater diversity makes interfaith activity more likely.