The U.S.-led invasion of Iraq has generated fewer religious and patriotic expressions than did the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
“The war with Iraq has affected Americans’ personal behavior to a much smaller extent than did the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11,” according to Gallup News Service. “Americans were much more likely after the 9/11 attacks to display a flag, pray more than usual, and cry.”
Last week, when asked if they prayed more than usual, 52 percent of American said they did, compared to 74 percent who said that they prayed more than usual following the terrorist attacks in 2001.
The same Gallup poll also found that fewer Americans were displaying their American flags now than after 9/11. Only 56 percent of respondents said that they displayed their flags, compared to 82 percent two years ago.
Churches are not necessarily seeing the surge in attendance they saw for several weeks following the Sept. 11 attacks.
Ed Hogan, pastor of Jersey Village Baptist Church in Houston, Texas, told EthicsDaily.com that he did not see the “bump” in attendance on Sunday that he was expecting.
About 100 people attended the Jersey Village prospective members luncheon on Sunday. Hogan said he asked them if the war “had any impact on their new found interest in church.”
Not one person said the war had anything to do with the desire to join the church.
Hogan said he thought there were several reasons for this.
“Sept. 11 was close to home,” Hogan said, “this war is not.” He also said people are confident America will win this war.
Hogan said people are generally more concerned about the economy and potential job layoffs than the war.
“We do not preach or teach a gloom and doom dispensation gospel here,” Hogan said. “I think our members are not as likely to get upset with end times anxiety as some.”
Joel Snider at First Baptist Church in Rome, Ga., said his church’s Sunday attendance was about average.
First Baptist did, however, have a Monday night service, “A Service for Peace in a Time of War.”
“About 120 plus showed up on Monday night,” Snider told EthicsDaily.com. “Most were members, but 20 or more were from the community.”
Snider said a main feature of the service was an open time of prayer in which about 10 to 12 people prayed aloud spontaneously.
All in all, surveys show that Americans are generally less focused on this war than the previous Gulf War.
The current Gallup poll showed that 63 percent of Americans said they were following the war with Iraq “very closely.” In 1991, 70 percent said they were following the Gulf War. But the highest percentage of “close followers” over the past 12 years was the 77 percent who said they were following the events surrounding the Sept. 11 attacks.
Jodi Mathews is BCE’s communications coordinator.