By Helen Jiang and Scott Terwilliger
Beth Ann Balalaos balanced on a ladder, shoving a striped yellow inflatable between the beams in the ceiling. The Access and Inclusion Manager at Long Island Children’s Museum in Garden City prepared for the arrival of nearly 750 visitors at 6 p.m.
Kids at the Long Island Children’s Museum were busy with their crafts. Highlighters moved across egg-shaped construction paper and glitter sprinkled onto the table as kids with facepaint eyed their projects intently.
“We mix up the activities,” Aimee Terzulli, the director of education and visitor experience at the Long Island Children’s Museum, said. “There’s things you can wear, you can make necklaces, you can make centerpieces.”
Easter, which will be held on April 21 this year, originates as a Christian holiday, and celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
“Easter is really the most significant holiday on the Christian calendar,” Reverend Joseph Garofalo of the Island Christian Church said. “We wouldn’t have a Christian faith if it had not been Jesus who acted as a sacrifice so that our sins could be paid for.”
This Easter celebration comes as a recent analysis by political scientist Ryan Burge shows that nearly one in four Americans claim no religion. There are approximately 677,000 Catholic people in Nassau County according to most recent 2010 data from the Association of Religious Data Archives, an organization founded in 1997 currently operating at Pennsylvania State University. The data updates every ten years. The number of members of the Christian Church dropped by nearly 40 percent between 1990 and 2010.
“That’s the biggest trend I see going forward,” Ryan Burge, a political scientist at Eastern Illinois University and a Pastor at First Baptist Church, IL, said. His analysis found that 23.1% of Americans now claim no religion, and Burge said that number is likely to continue growing as people move to the disaffiliated category when it comes to religion.
“We actually want communities learning from each other,” Aimee Terzulli, the director of education and visitor experience at the Long Island Children’s Museum, said. “Even if it’s a holiday they may not celebrate, they might come and see some things that other families might do on Long Island.”
Some Christian parents brought their children to the event. Melinda Edwards, a devout Episcopalian who was there was with her son, said that Easter as a holiday is “what Christianity is based off of.”
“He [her son] has his little kids’ bible, and he knows a lot about his religion,” Edwards, of Queens, said.
“What we want to be able to create is an opportunity for families to have the chance to get together, maybe with friends or cousins, and have a holiday celebration.” Maureen Mangan, director of communications, said.
The impact of religion in people daily lives has changed, Burge said. “We sort of lost the middle, which is the people who are marginally attached,” Burge added. “Those people have fallen away; they don’t go to Church at all anymore.”
Some scholars argue that the statistics don’t necessarily represent the general picture.
“More people check no religion on their census,” Dr. Peter Bedford, the program director of religious studies at Union College in upstate New York, said. “But no religion doesn’t necessarily mean not religious. They’re trying to discover things on their own or sometimes a new kind of religious movement.”
“That kind of autonomy or independence is a feature of our current scene or the modern world.”