The study, conducted by Jeremy E. Uecker (University of Texas at Austin) and which is to be published in the September issue of the journal Sociological Spectrum, used longitudinal research of 20,745 American adolescents from 1994 to 1995 and then again from July, 2001 to May, 2002.
Although Uecker did find that the 9/11 attacks did evoke a turn to religion and spirituality among many Americans, including young adults, such a shift did not “drastically alter the religious and spiritual makeup of the young adult population. Only modest differences were noted in young adults’ levels of religiosity and spirituality after the attacks, and the differences were generally short-lived,” Uecker said.
But there were differences in the effect of 9/11 among different groups of young adults. Those from religious traditions with the most individualistic adherents—Catholicism, mainline Protestantism and the unaffiliated—were the most likely to increase their religiosity and spirituality after the attacks. In contrast, evangelical and black Protestants actually showed declines in their religiosity and spirituality after these events, leading Uecker to ask whether the faith of these individuals was “shaken on 9/11.”
Richard Cimino is the founder and editor of Religion Watch, a newsletter monitoring trends in contemporary religion. Since January 2008, Religion Watch is published by Religioscope Institute. Website: www.religionwatch.com.