Post 9/11 Church Membership Has Dropped

September 11th forced many Americans to re-prioritize what is important to them. In the months following the attack, being kind to others, spending more time with family, and building a relationship with God were all higher on most peoples' lists. But five years after the terror attacks, some East Texas church leaders believe things are back the way they were pre-911.

Deacon Winfred Mackey of New Zion Baptist Church said, "We felt unsafe because nothing like that had really ever happened in America before at that magnitude. I think people were really afraid and when we become afraid, many times, we turn to God. After things seem to be safe again, we go back to doing things we were doing before."

First Assembly of God Youth Pastor Michael Dant disagrees. He said 9/11 has not been forgotten and church is still the place most East Texans turn to after any catastrophic event.

"I think more and more people really are interested in a spiritual matter," Dant said. "I think it's something that's kind of hit the radar on a lot of people's lives, so they're really investigating - whether it's Christianity or Islam - different religions and faiths out there. They're definitely questioning it."

Many churches had an increase in membership just after 9/11, but some pastors said their congregations are back to the size they were pre-terrorist attack. A lot of them believe East Texans feel safer and think the threat against them is over, but local ministers said their doors are always open no matter how many people are in their pews.

Several East Texas churches also saw an increase in congregants after hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Many storm victims relocated to East Texas after the storms and are now attending church in the area.