The business and politics of spiritual journeys
Religion & Liberty Online

The business and politics of spiritual journeys

Over the weekend the Grand Rapids Press published an article by Mary Radigan that examines one booming trend in the travel industry, “Spiritual journeys take off in travel industry.”

“The market for religious travel has grown into an $18 billion industry worldwide,” writes Radigan. “In the past decade, it has expanded into cruise lines, bus trips, escorted tours, and conventions and meetings.”

This growing interest in religiously-based travel underscores the tensions behind the recent controversy over an archaeological dig near the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. As GetReligion notes, the area is both the holiest site in Judaism and the third holiest site for Muslims.

Here’s a picture from my own trip to Israel in 1999 during a summer semester working at Bethsaida archaeological excavations under the direction of Dr. John Greene. You can see the Wailing Wall in the foreground with the Dome of the Rock behind it. To the lower right hand side, you can see the guarded walkway to the Temple Mount. To the right of this walkway is the area where the archaeological dig is taking place. The perspective of the picture is facing roughly southeast, and the al-Aqsa Mosque is on the west side of the mount.


Jordan J. Ballor

Jordan J. Ballor (Dr. theol., University of Zurich; Ph.D., Calvin Theological Seminary) is director of research at the Center for Religion, Culture & Democracy, an initiative of the First Liberty Institute. He has previously held research positions at the Acton Institute and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, and has authored multiple books, including a forthcoming introduction to the public theology of Abraham Kuyper. Working with Lexham Press, he served as a general editor for the 12 volume Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology series, and his research can be found in publications including Journal of Markets & Morality, Journal of Religion, Scottish Journal of Theology, Reformation & Renaissance Review, Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Faith & Economics, and Calvin Theological Journal. He is also associate director of the Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research at Calvin Theological Seminary and the Henry Institute for the Study of Christianity & Politics at Calvin University.