Interfaith worship services have doubled in the decade since the 9/11 attacks, even as more than seven in 10 U.S. congregations do not associate with other faiths.
A 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. Still, more than 70% of American congregations do not associate with religions.
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.
The study implies that the more liberal a congregation, the greater likelihood for interfaith activity. Approximately half of Unitarian Universalist congregations held interfaith worship services, and three in four participated in interfaith community service.
By contrast, among more conservative Southern Baptist churches, only 10 percent participated in interfaith community service, and 5 percent in interfaith worship….
…the fact that interfaith services and community projects have grown so much is something to celebrate, said Rabbi Marc Schneier, founder and president of the New York-based Foundation for Ethnic Understanding.
“I’m not saying we are where we’d like to be, but the good news is the process has begun,” Schneier said. “Outreach to the Muslim community from a Jewish perspective is now becoming en vogue. … Ten years ago, if I would have proposed anything like that, people would have thought I was from Mars.”