chapter  5
20 Pages

Faithful Audiences: The Intersection of Art and Religion

Religion plays a huge role in American life. Even those whoclaim no interest in it can hardly deny its importance. There are approximately 340,000 congregations in the United States-more than twenty times the number of performing arts organizations. Annually, Americans make an estimated total of three billion visits to their places of worship-at least three times the number made to art museums, plays, musical performances, historical sites, and arts and craft fairs combined.1 Giving to religious organizations-amounting to $88 billion in 2004-constitutes the largest category of individual philanthropy.2 Religious orientations inuence partisan politics and attitudes toward numerous social and moral issues. For many people faith is the source of meaning and purpose, the basis of morality, and the answer to life’s enduring questions.