A fifth of Europeans questioned in an international survey say the September 11 attacks in the United States brought them "closer to religion," while almost half now claim to have "changed priorities."

Three-quarters of Europeans surveyed said their family was now "most important" to them, with 47 percent saying that they expected to be more "family-focused" in future.

The survey, conducted by Euro RSCG Worldwide, an international advertising agency network based in New York, also found that 35 percent of Italians and 16 percent of Dutch people planned to "focus more on religion" over Christmas.

The survey was conducted as part of Euro RSCG's efforts to track consumer shifts and trends in the wake of the September 11 attacks. It was conducted in early November on a representative sample of over 1,300 people in Britain, France, Italy, Germany, and the Netherlands.

In an earlier U.S. survey, 63 percent of Americans surveyed said they would also be "more family focused," while 18 percent planned to spend more time at home.

Keith Jenkins, the Brussels-based director of the Church and Society Commission of the Conference of European Churches (CEC), told ENI that the European survey seemed to confirm a "heightened awareness of religion" since the atrocities that took place in the United States, as well as a "growing recognition of the need for interfaith dialogue."

"In the immediate aftermath of September 11, there was certainly a widespread desire to meet and pray, as well as an expectation that the churches would provide a forum for this," Jenkins told ENI.

"Whether evidence from a one-off survey reflects a long-term trend can only be seen in the light of experience. But there are moments when something is expected from the churches and it's important that churches respond."

In the survey, 78 percent of Europeans said they felt "safe" or "pretty safe" in their countries. However, 13 percent said they would now stay home more. Almost as many intended to cancel holiday plans.

One in three said they would also spend less money in future, while one in five pledged to donate more to charity.

David Goodbourn, general secretary of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI), told ENI that British church leaders would examine the results of the survey.

"Although this may be a time when participation in organized religion isn't particularly high, there is a quest for spirituality, and it wouldn't be surprising if September 11 had reinforced this," Goodbourn told ENI.

"It's part of our reality that people very often don't feel this quest is being met by the churches. This is something we must try to address."

He said he was not aware of any growth in church attendance since the September attacks.

"We would be extremely skeptical if suddenly informed there were great crowds out there wishing to sign up for church life," Goodbourn, a Baptist, told ENI.

"But it's quite natural that events like this make people ask more ultimate questions about the meaning, purpose and nature of life."

Euro RSCG's chairman, Bob Schmetterer, said the findings suggested a shift in priorities internationally.

"The September 11 events have had far-reaching effects well beyond the borders of the United States—everyone is involved, and everything we do affected," Schmetterer said.

"Communication has played an integral role in the way people have reacted over the past few weeks. As they share their emotions with friends and family, we see people reacting similarly, regardless of geography."

However, the survey suggested religious belief for Europeans still ranked well down on their scale of values, with only 5 percent of Britons and 2 percent of French citizens listing it as "most important" to them, compared to 79 percent and 74 percent respectively who cited the family, and 9 percent and 5 percent who gave priority to their country.

While almost three in five of all Europeans surveyed supported their country's involvement in the "war against terrorism," 30 percent of French and 12 percent of Britons said that the U.S. had—"definitely" or "maybe"—"deserved the attacks."

Euro RSCG Worldwide describes itself as the world's fifth biggest advertising network, with agencies in 75 countries.

Related Elsewhere

See the Euro RSCG Worldwide press release on its survey.

Barna Research Group surveyed America's religious response to the terrorism attacks.

An earlier ENI article examined how Russia's response to the attacks may signify a shift towards a more sympathetic attitude to Americans.