Welcome to a world where all your dreams can come true and where it is fashionable to believe. Or just … believe. The United States is the first Christian country in the world with 7 out of 10 Americans who believe in God, according to a Gallup poll in 2014.
Despite this, the number of nuns – atheists and agnostics has increased significantly in the last 10 years (34% of young adults between 19 and 29 years of age say they have no religion).
To say that atheist remains very difficult in a society where to believe in God is a pledge of morality. Faced with the progressive desertion of the churches, the various obediences tried in every way to rally the flock.
In the midst of the storm, the « paraconfessional » and evangelical creationists of Answers in Genesis emerge the great game by launching into a Pharaonic project, the construction of « The Ark Encounter », a Noah’s Ark with « biblical proportions ».
They intend to capitalize on the pool of potential consumers who believe that God created human beings in a single blow, in their present form, more or less 6,000 years ago. This would affect more than 46% of Americans. Ark encounter expects more than 2 million visitors in 2017.
At the same time, the non-denominational churches explode, making their eyes gentle at the atheists in the wrong of belonging. These churches recognize the evangelical movement, even if they are autonomous and have no other formal etiquette.
Among the most influential, Sea Coast Church in Charleston, South Carolina, a strong megachurch of more than 25,000 faithfuls is packed all weekend by advocating the « come as you are ».
Religious tourism, on the other hand, has never fared so well. It represents a gold mine, a billion dollars, and the « Christian holidays » are constantly increasing.
The Holy Land Experience, the first biblical amusement park, opened in 2001 in Orlando, Florida, continues to benefit from this windfall.
At a cost of $ 16 million (mostly donations), it welcomes an average of 250,000 people a year.
Holy Land, a park that marries without religion and business, anachronistic and absurd, in which Jesus poses in self-help alongsidevisitors while Mary holds a restaurant stand.
In Daytona Beach, Florida, we are ready to do anything to attract the faithful, like imagining a church in Drive Inn. The Christian Drive Inn Church of Daytona Beach offers 63 religious services every Sunday morning, which you can comfortably seat … in your air-conditioned car.
© Cyril Abad / Hans Lucas