Religion on the Rise

SEPTEMBER 13, 2006 -- POSTED AT 9:30 P.M. CDT

JONESBORO, AR -- Despite what some may think, a new study by Baylor University found that only a small percentage of Americans have no ties to religion. But the majority that is religious doesn't seem to believe traditionally. It's more modernized to fit today's generation.

"I think there's a real interest in spirituality these days versus real Christianity strangely enough," says Steven Farmer, the pastor for Trinity Church in Jonesboro.

Some advocates of the study say that America has always been a religious country, but when times of crisis strike, the number of believers seems to increase. But that rise in faith is a new-aged view of religion, one with a more spiritual desire.

"The fact is that we're not promised tomorrow and September 11 brought that to us very vividly. Now after that people have been on this quest to find their meaning or purpose in life," says Farmer.

Another surprising aspect of the study is that the desire for a spiritual belonging is no longer dependent upon one certain denomination.

"They're seeking some place to fit, they're seeking a relationship with God, but they don't feel that they can fit in the traditional church as such, so they're looking for alternative methods," says Farmer.

Jimmy Adcox, the minister from the Southwest Church of Christ says within his own congregation, he sees some of those same desires for a changed view of spirituality.

"People look for a place to go where they can have a relationship with God and can be drawn in the presence of God, but it's not as important to them what that denominational affiliation is," says Adcox.

The study found that Americans see God in one of 4 ways: Critical, considerate, distant, or authoritarian.

"I suspect that those 4 major categories and view of God that they found people had that really shaped their lives, their politics, their behavior, and their moral views. I suspect those would be pretty consistent with what would be true in our area as well," says Adcox.