LAS VEGAS - October 20, 2009 - What do Catholics, Muslims and New Paradigm Christians do for fun? UNLV Hotel College Professor Jennifer Livengood breaks down the reasons why some adherents to religious denominations look to faith before choosing their next hobby and why some draw a line between church and entertainment.
Having a better understanding of the relationship between religion and pastimes could be useful for recreational supervisors and tourism organizers who develop programs and events that tailor to diverse religious groups, says Livengood.
Often religious calendars are not consulted when planning events. By being aware of religious doctrine, Livengood says programmers can have successful and - in some cases - profitable events.
"The activities then become inclusive and participants feel a sense of belonging. Participants have the opportunity to engage in activities that are comfortable and appropriate according to their spiritual needs," said Livengood, a professor of recreation and sport management. "A majority of Americans say they believe in God or a higher power and indicate that faith has a significant influence on their lives. It is important to understand how spirituality influences all facets of their lives, which includes leisure activities."
Livengood's research includes an investigation on how the events of Sept. 11 affected American Muslims' leisure participation and whether religious constraints affect the leisure options for Catholics and Muslims.
In her latest study, Livengood interviewed members of New Paradigm Churches - a branch of faith within Christianity - to understand what role spirituality plays in their leisure habits. The sample included seven women and 10 men between the ages of 22 to 60 who belong to two New Paradigm Churches in an Illinois town.
The results, published in the August Journal of Leisure/Loisir, found that New Paradigm Christians consider knitting, playing or listening to music, being alone or being in the environment as spiritual activities. A majority of the respondents view being with people of the similar faith as a spiritual activity - even if the activity is unrelated to a church event. Livengood is currently researching how the hospitality industry can better meet the needs of Muslims.