9/11 attacks led Americans to church like never before

FRESNO, Calif.

Across the nation and here in the Valley... Americans flocked to local houses of worship immediately after 9/11... but the spike doesn't seem to have lasted.

Just hours after news hit the airwaves the United States had come under attack... Fresno's People's Church threw open it's doors. Anxious moms, dads, politicians and law enforcers packed the sanctuary.

Shirley Barber, People's Church Women's Pastor said, "It united us. People came from different denominations. Maybe people who didn't even have faith, but in moments like that, people cry out to god for help."

People's Church saw church attendance spike after 9/11... but slowly... those newcomers stopped coming... and attendance returned to pre 9/11 numbers.

According to a study by the Southern California research company the Barna Group... People's Church's experience is typical of faith patterns across the country since 9/11.

Barber says the ebb and flow of faith in America is no different than it was many years ago

She explains, "Just like in the Old Testament... we read about it... how people would cry out to god when they were in trouble... and he would rescue them and he would help them... he would comfort them... and be there and give them strength... and then they would get comfortable... they would forget."

Pastor Shane Scott of Fresno's St. Rest Baptist Church said, "I think unfortunately 9/11 rattled us... but it did not shake us to our core."

Scott says god is still trying to get America's attention. "We're beginning to see another resurgence of faith through these hard economic times... but unfortunately because economics are what they are... even the life of the church is still a bit stagnant."

Both the Barna study and the pastors agree... catastrophic events will get our attention... but long term changes take place in the heart.

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