Such an interesting article in Slate about marketing religion. The article begins with the idea that Hanukkah is a minor holiday in Judaism yet it has turned into a 'Jewish Christmas' in America as "American Jews concerned with assimilation are the most likely to go all out for Hanukkah to entice their kids to keep the faith."
The idea of applying economic analysis to spiritual life isn't new. Adam Smith, the great-granddaddy of modern economics, described churches as though they were profit-maximizing firms, and congregants as their customers. Just as competition between Samsung and Sony pushes each company to make better flat-screen monitors at ever-lower prices, Smith felt that clergy in a competitive religious marketplace would provide services with greater "zeal and industry" than religious leaders in places where one faith had a monopoly.
After a lapse of some centuries, economists have rediscovered their religion, and Smith's hypotheses on the benefits of religious competition have been borne out by modern statistical analysis. One recent study compares countries where a single religion has a lock on the market—like France or Italy—with more pluralistic societies like the United States.
Almost all Italians identify themselves as Catholic, yet in one survey only half reported attending church at least once a month and the same fraction reported believing in God. The bishops and vicars, the thinking goes, have grown complacent, offering the same tired sermons and Sunday school lessons year after year because they have no competition from rival faiths.
By contrast, America is full of megachurches built by marketing-savvy pastors and featuring customer-friendly amenities like day care, cafes, and large-screen TVs, which simulcast electrifying orations to overflow crowds. Apparently, they're more effective at attracting audiences of believers than their Italian counterparts. Nearly 60 percent of Americans attend church monthly, and almost 90 percent report believing in God.