Desecularization

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Atheism is in decline worldwide, with the number of atheists falling from 4.5% of the world’s population in 1970 to 2.0% in 2010 and projected to drop to 1.8% by 2020.[1] See: Global atheism statistics

Desecularization is the process by which religion reasserts its societal influence though religious values, institutions, sectors of society and symbols in reaction to previous and/or co-occurring secularization processes.[2] Desecularization can also occur through providential acts of God and in reaction to God granting Christian's prayers.[3]

From a global perspective, religion is seeing a resurgence and scholars of religious demographics frequently use the term "global resurgence of religion" to describe the process of desecularization which began in the late portion of the 20th century.[4]

As a percentage of the world's population, atheism peaked in 1970.[5] Global atheism is expected to decline in the 21st century and beyond in terms of its global market share.[6] Presently, there are a number of excellent sources which indicate that atheism is shrinking in global market share (see: Global atheism statistics).

The theologian and Harvard University academic Harvey Cox asserted that grassroots movements such as fundamentalism and the Charismatic movement/pentecostalism are significant religious forces that are resistant to secularization forces.[7][8] In her book The Battle for God, Karen Armstrong wrote: "One of the most startling developments of the late 20th century has been the emergence within every major religious tradition of a militant piety known as 'fundamentalism'… this religious resurgence has taken many observers by surprise."[9]

The American sociologist and author Peter L. Berger introduced the concept of desecularization in 1999.[10][11]

Many of the areas of the former areas of the Soviet Union, including Russia, experienced a rapid desecularization since the fall of the Soviet Union.[12] Communist China is currently experiencing rapid desecularization due to the growth of Christianity in China.[13] See also: Growth of Christianity in China

Contents

Global desecularization

See also: Global atheism and Global atheism statistics and Growth of religion

In 2011, atheist Jacques Berlinerblau declared: "The Golden Age of Secularism has passed."[14]

On July 24, 2013, CNS News reported:

Atheism is in decline worldwide, with the number of atheists falling from 4.5% of the world’s population in 1970 to 2.0% in 2010 and projected to drop to 1.8% by 2020, according to a new report by the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Mass."[15]

On December 23, 2012, Professor Eric Kaufmann who teaches at Birbeck College, University of London wrote:

I argue that 97% of the world's population growth is taking place in the developing world, where 95% of people are religious.

On the other hand, the secular West and East Asia has very low fertility and a rapidly aging population... In the coming decades, the developed world's demand for workers to pay its pensions and work in its service sector will soar alongside the booming supply of young people in the third world. Ergo, we can expect significant immigration to the secular West which will import religious revival on the back of ethnic change. In addition, those with religious beliefs tend to have higher birth rates than the secular population, with fundamentalists having far larger families. The epicentre of these trends will be in immigration gateway cities like New York (a third white), Amsterdam (half Dutch), Los Angeles (28% white), and London, 45% white British. [16]

At a conference Kaufmann said of religious demographic projections concerning the 21st century:

Part of the reason I think demography is very important, at least if we are going to speak about the future, is that it is the most predictable of the social sciences.

...if you look at a population and its age structure now. You can tell a lot about the future. ...So by looking at the relative age structure of different populations you can already say a lot about the future...

...Religious fundamentalism is going to be on the increase in the future and not just out there in the developing world..., but in the developed world as well.[17]

Future of desecularization via the continued global resurgence of religion

See also: Growth of global desecularization and Acceleration of 21st century desecularization and Atheism vs. Christianity

Eric Kaufmann, a professor at Birkbeck College, University of London, using a wealth of demographic studies, argues that there will be a significant decline of global atheism in the 21st century which will impact the Western World.[18]

Eric Kaufmann, a professor at Birkbeck College, University of London, using a wealth of demographic studies, argues that there will be a significant decline of global atheism in the 21st century which will impact the Western World.[19][20] In addition, Kaufmann argues that religious conservatism has a long term trend of rising and that their influence in the world will significantly increase.[21] Kaufmann is author of the book Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth?.[22][23] In the Western World due to immigration and the higher birth rates of religious people, Kaufman writes: "Committed religious populations are growing in the West, and will reverse the march of secularism before 2050."[24]

Kaufmann told a secular audience in Australia: "The trends that are happening worldwide inevitably in an age of globalization are going to affect us."[25] Furthermore, Kaufmann also argues that secularization may reverse itself significantly earlier than 2050 in the West due to religious immigration and a religious population which is increasingly resistant to secularization in Europe.[26]

In addition, in the latter portion of the 20th century and continuing into the 21st century, the atheist movement has had lower confidence/morale due to various historical events/trends (see: Atheists and the endurance of religion).

Research on the number of atheists in the world

Data compiled by the Center for the Study of Global Christianity (CSGC) at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (GCTS) as far as the number of atheists in the world:

Given the information in the resources directly above, the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, expects the global atheist population to shrink in its total number of individuals in 2017.

If CSGC is correct, then not only is the global market share for atheism going downward, but now the actual number of atheists in the world is going down as well. Specifically, CSGC is projecting that from the midpoint of 2016 to the midpoint of 2017, the total number of atheists in the world is going to go from 138,101,000 individuals to 137,041,000 individuals. That would be a net loss of 60,000 atheists in the world during this period.[27]

Desecularization and Europe

See also: European desecularization in the 21st century and Decline of secular Europe

Eric Kaufmann is a professor of politics at Birkbeck, University of London and author. His academic research specialty is how demographic changes affect religion/irreligion and politics.

In April 2010, Kaufmann, who is an agnostic, declared "the rate of secularisation has flattened to zero in most of Protestant Europe and France."[28] Kaufmann also declared that secularism "appears exhausted and lacking in confidence".[29]

In 2011, Kaufmann declared concerning the population of Secular Europe:

If we go to Europe, if we take the population of Europe including Russia, it's expected to decline by 25,000,000 in the next 20 years. And then between 2030 to 2050 by another 55,000,000. So you see there is an acceleration of population decline because total fertility rates, that is the number of children of woman will bear in her lifetime have been below replacement for 30 or 40 years...

As populations shrink, there are fewer mothers begetting fewer children and so forth so you get a compounding effect.[30]

See also: Acceleration of 21st century desecularization

Desecularization and France

In April 2012, French scholars reported that evangelical Christianity was likely the fastest growing religion in France.[31]

In addition, France has Europe's second largest Muslim population.[32]

Desecularization and Germany

On March 17, 2014, the news website Deutsche Well reported that evangelical Christianity has doubled in Germany in the last 10 years.[33]

Germany also has Europe's largest Muslim population.[34]

Desecularization and Britain

European desecularization and Islam

See also: Atheism vs. Islam

According to Pew Research:

In recent decades, the Muslim share of the population throughout Europe grew about 1 percentage point a decade, from 4% in 1990 to 6% in 2010. This pattern is expected to continue through 2030, when Muslims are projected to make up 8% of Europe’s population.[35]

Phillip Jenkins predicts that by 2100 the Muslim population of Europe will be 25% of the European population.[36]

Far-right European political parties seek to expel Muslims from Europe.[37] In June 2014, Forbes reported that it is undeniable that politically right wing parties are ascendant in Europe.[38]

European desecularization and illegal immigration

The American Interest website declares:

Securing Europe’s vast land and sea borders—a task greater than that faced by the United States along its border with Mexico—is proving exceptionally challenging for the European Union (EU)....

Traffickers use small boats to reduce the chances of being picked up by patrol boats’ radars; migrants are often dropped off on stretches of inaccessible coastline, or left to drift ashore. In the case of illegal land crossings, small trucks are used to penetrate the most porous parts of eastern or southern Europe’s borders. Penalties for this are low or non-existent all around Europe, and traffickers are rarely caught anyway. Smuggling people across Europe has become easier and more profitable than any other criminal activity, including drug smuggling.[39]

Future of immigration to Europe uncertain

The future of immigration to Europe is difficult to determine. Should Europe's economic condition worsen in the future it will be less attractive to immigrants and anti-immigration politics could heighten due to increased competition for scarcer job opportunities. In addition, anti-Muslim sentiments in Europe appear to be rising so the proportion of immigration from Muslim countries could be affected due to politicians catering to anti-Muslim public sentiments.

Desecularization and Asia

See also: Asian atheism and Growth of Christianity in China and Growth of evangelical Christianity in irreligious regions

One of the steepest declines of atheism that is expected to occur is in China which currently has the largest atheist population in the world. China is experiencing a rapid growth of theologically conservative Christianity which will have a significant effect on the global atheist population.[40]

United States, irreligion vs. religion, demographics and desecularization

See also: United States, irreligion vs. religion and demographics

Demography is the study of human populations, and is a major specialty in the disciplines of sociology, economics, history, geography, statistics and epidemiology.

Professor Eric Kaufmann, Birkbeck College, University of London, specializes on how demographics affects religion/irreligion/politics.

Steve Turley wrote:

According to a recent a demographic study by University of London Professor Eric Kaufmann, there is a significant demographic deficit between secularists and conservative religionists. For example, in the U.S., while self-identified secular women averaged only 1.5 children per couple in 2002, conservative evangelical women averaged 2 to 3 children per couple, which amounts to a 28 percent fertility advantage. Now Kaufmann notices that this demographic deficit has dramatic effects over time. In a population evenly divided, these numbers indicate that conservative evangelicals would increase from 50 to 62.5 percent of the population in a single generation. In two generations, their number would increase to 73.5 percent, and over the course of 200 years, they would represent 99.4 percent.

Kaufmann noticed further that the more religiously conservative, the more children. For example, the Amish double in population every twenty years, and are projected to number over a million in the U.S. and Canada in just a few decades. We're seeing a similar trend among Mormons, who have averaged a 40 percent growth per decade, which means that by the end of the century, there will be as many as 300 million Mormons in the world, or six percent of the world's population. And note: Mormons vote overwhelmingly Republican.

Now in stark contrast to all of this, Kaufmann's data projects that secularists consistently exemplify a low fertility rate of around 1.5 percent per couple, which is significantly below the replacement level of 2.1 percent. And so he sees a steady decline of secular populations after 2030 or 2050 to potentially no more than a mere 14 to 15 percent of the American population. He notices that similar projections apply to Europe as well.[41]

In 2012, Kaufmann wrote:

In the United States, they manage 1.5, considerably lower than the national 2.1. This disadvantage is not enough to prevent religious decline in much of Europe and America today, but secularism must run to stand still. Since the history of religious decline in Europe suggests that secularization rates tend to drop over time, this portends the end of secularization. Projections I recently published with Skirbekk and Goujon in the journal Sociology of Religion show secularism losing momentum and beginning to decline in both Europe and America by 2050, largely because of low fertility and religious immigration.[42]

Canada and 21st century deseculation

See: Canada and irreligion

The term postsecular is gaining in usage

Postsecularism refers to a number of theories concerning the persistence or resurgence of religious beliefs or practices in the present.

The Science Recorder declared in 2015:

Science and religion are often presented as opposing world views, but a recent study in the American Sociological Review published Jan. 29, suggests that for some Americans, this binary construction (i.e. science vs. religion) is a false dichotomy.

Authors Timothy O’Brien, an assistant professor at the University of Evansville and co-author Shiri Noy, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Wyoming, call these Americans the “Post-Seculars,” and were surprised to find that one in five Americans belongs to this group, a sizable number given that most of these individuals have gone “unnoticed before in endless rounds of debates pitting” science against religion.

According to O’Brien, “[The Post-Seculars] are pretty knowledgeable and appreciative about science and technology but…are also very religions and reject certain scientific theories.”[43]

See also: Atheism and science and List of atheist and agnostic pseudosciences

According to the British sociologist of religion James A. Beckford in the Department of Sociology at the University of Warwick, the term "postsecular" is currently proliferating amongst scholars in the humanities and social science fields.[44] In terms of the English speaking world, Google trend data as of August 2013 indicates that the world's interest in the topics of atheism and evolution has declined since 2004 while interest in God has increased.[45]

In 2016, the European website Modern Diplomacy declared that the prominent European philosopher Jürgen Habermas seems to detect a “post-secular” age on the European horizon.[46]

Specifically, Modern Diplomacy indicated:

But there are signs that the anti-religion virulence is in abeyance in Europe and one who detects those signs is none other than the present day European philosopher Jurgen Habermas. He seems to detect what he calls a “post-secular” age on the European horizon. This has all the self-proclaimed secular humanists, who generally disdain religion and advocate its liquidation, a bit worried lately. Their strident vitriolic statements against religion have been on the increase lately. For they have always fantasized of being at the very cutting edge of what it means to be modern and “enlightened” and now feel such a position challenged not only by theologians and religious leaders but by a philosopher to boot...

Habermas is very much involved in the debate on the EU identity and has even signed manifestos on the same with Umberto Eco, the late Derrida and other influential philosophers. In 2005 Habermas delivered a lecture on the occasion of the Holberg prize which then became an article in 2006. See “Religion in the public sphere” by J. Habermas, in European Journal of Philosophy 14: 1-25. The core of that essay is that “secular citizens in Europe must learn to live, the sooner the better, in a post-secular society and in so doing they will be following the example of religious citizens, who have already come to terms with the ethical expectations of democratic citizenship. So far secular citizens have not been expected to make a similar effort.”[47]

Causes of the global resurgence of religion and the failure of secularism

See also: Causes of desecularization and Growth of global desecularization

There are a number of causes of global desecularization (see: Causes of desecularization).

Citing the work of the French researcher Gilles Kepel who wrote the book The Revenge of God and the work of Harvard University political scientist Samuel Huntington, who authored the work The Clash of Civilizations, the Christian ministry Tomorrow's World declared:

Growing numbers of people around the globe are becoming disenchanted with the effect of secularism on our modern world—the fragmentation of society, the weakening of social cohesion, the absence of noble ideals worth pursuing, the lack of solid values, the social acceptance of what was formerly considered perversion, the spread of crime and the lack of effective punishment, the emptiness of consumerism and materialism, the breakdown of the "welfare state," the failure of communism, the chaos in schools and the breakdown of families (Kepel, p. 5).

Once-formidable ideologies have been found unsatisfactory and have even collapsed. Millions are abandoning the depressing philosophical wasteland of theories that consider human beings mere animals with no future beyond death, and no purpose in life other than to survive. In place of communism and consumerism, many are searching for "new sources of identity, new forms of stable community, and new sets of moral precepts to provide them with a sense of meaning and purpose… there is a quest for some higher explanations about man's purpose, about why we are here" (The Clash of Civilizations, p. 97).[48]

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks declared: "...the 17th century was the beginning of an age of secularization which has lasted four centuries until now; the 21st century is exactly the opposite, it's the beginning of an age of desecularization. Religion is seizing power; they're not yielding power." [49]

Sub-replacement levels of fertility of atheists. High fertility of the religious and immigration

See also: Atheism and fertility rates and Atheism and marriage and Atheism and sexuality and Atheism and romance

Michael Blume, a researcher at the University of Jena in Germany, wrote about the sub-replacement level of fertility among atheistic populations: "Most societies or communities that have espoused atheistic beliefs have not survived more than a century."[50] Blume also indicated concerning concerning his research on this matter: "What I found was the complete lack of a single case of a secular population, community or movement that would just manage to retain replacement level."[51] See also: Atheism and sexuality

The Washington Post wrote about the United States and fertility rates for various religious groups:

According to Pew's data, the average Mormon can expect to make 3.4 babies in his or her lifetime. Jews, Catholics, and most flavors of Protestantism have fertility rates ranging from 2 to 2.5. At the low end of the baby-making spectrum you've got atheists, with 1.6 kids, and agnostics, who average only 1.3.[52]

Global atheism and aging populations

See also: Global atheism and aging populations

Global atheism is facing significant challenges in terms of aging populations in East Asia and Europe and this will be a significant cause of desecularization in the 21st century (see: Global atheism and aging populations).

Global decularization and evangelical Christianity

See also: Growth of evangelical Christianity

Evangelical Christians are often zealous when it comes to evangelism and evangelical Christianity has seen rapid growth in the world (see: Growth of evangelical Christianity).

According to Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary's Center for the Study of Global Christianity, which has made projections up to the year of 2050, the percentage of the global population that are evangelical Christians/pentecostals is expected to increase .[53] See also: Growth of Evangelical Christianity and the developed world

Decline of global agnosticism

Projected 21st century decline of agnosticism

See also; Global agnosticism

The Center for the Study of Global Christianity (CSGC) at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary estimated that agnostics made up 9.5% of the global population in 2015. CSGC projects that agnosticism will be 8.71% of the global population in 2025 and 7.19% of the global population in 2050.[54]

Europe and 21st century desecularization

Austria's census data permits demographers to perform analysis which indicates the secular population plateauing by 2050, or as early as 2021.[55]

See also: European desecularization in the 21st century

Concerning the future of religion/secularism in Europe, Eric Kaufmann also wrote:

We have performed these unprecedented analyses on several cases. Austria offers us a window into what the future holds. Its census question on religious affiliation permits us to perform cohort component projections, which show the secular population plateauing by 2050, or as early as 2021 if secularism fails to attract lapsed Christians and new Muslim immigrants at the same rate as it has in the past. (Goujon, Skirbekk et al. 2006).

This task will arguably become far more difficult as the supply of nominal Christians dries up while more secularisation-resistant Muslims and committed rump Christians comprise an increasing share of the population.[56]

See also: Investor's Business Daily on the flood of Muslim immigrants to Europe

Religious immigrants to Europe resistant to secularization

Conservative Protestants have relatively high fertility rates.[57] (Picture: Protestant church pulpit in Europe)

In 2011, a paper was published entitled The End of Secularization in Europe?: A Socio-Demographic Perspective. The authors of the paper were: Eric Kaufmann - Birkbeck College, University of London; Anne Goujon - World Population Program, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA); Vegard Skirbekk World Population Program, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA).[58]

An excerpt from the paper by Kaufmann, Goujon and Skirbekk:

Conservative Protestants, a much larger group than the Mormons, also benefit from relatively high fertility. Hout et al. (2001) find that three-quarters of the growth of conservative Protestant denominations against their liberal counterparts is due to fertility advantage rather than conversion.

In Europe, there has been less attention paid to fertility differences between denominations. However, several studies have discovered that immigrants to Europe tend to be more religious than the host population and — especially if Muslim—tend to retain their religiosity (Van Tubergen 2006). Though some indicators point to modest religious decline toward the host society mean, other trends suggest that immigrants become more, rather than less, religious the longer they reside in the host society (Van Tubergen 2007). All of which indicates that religious decline may fail at the aggregate level even if it is occurring at the individual level (Kaufmann 2006, 2010). This article thereby investigates the hypothesis that a combination of higher religious fertility, immigration, and slowing rates of religious apostasy will eventually produce a reversal in the decline of the religious population of Western Europe.[59]

Research indicates that among ethnic minority immigrants religion is a source of group ethnic identification which makes them more resistant to secularization.[60] In most countries, with the exception of France, Muslim immigrants have nearly 100% retention rates for the second generation.[61]

French scholars say, evangelicalism is likely the fastest-growing religion in France – defying all stereotypes about one of Europe’s most secular nations. In 2011, The number of evangelical churches increased from 769 to 2,068 in 2011.[62]

In 2010, Kaufmann reported that the rate of secularisation flattened to zero in most of Protestant Europe and France.[63]

On July 12, 2012, the Christian Science Monitor reported:

French scholars say, evangelicalism is likely the fastest-growing religion in France – defying all stereotypes about Europe’s most secular nation...

Daniel Liechti, vice-president of the French National Evangelical Council, found that since 1970, a new evangelical church has opened in France every 10 days. The number of churches increased from 769 to 2,068 last year.[64]

Due to religious immigrants, many of whom are evangelical Christians, church attendance in Greater London grew by 16% between 2005 and 2012.[65] In 2013, it was reported that 52% of people who attended church in London attended evangelical churches.[66]

On December 14, 2009, the British newspaper The Telegraph reported:

According to the Mail Evangelical Christianity is on the rise.

Some 4.5million of the UK's foreign-born population claim to have a religious affiliation. Of these, around a quarter are Muslim while more than half are Christian – with Polish Catholics and African Pentecostals among the fastest-growing groups.

While traditional churchgoing is on the decline in the UK over the past decade, the latest immigrants mean Christianity is becoming more charismatic and fundamentalist.

'Perhaps the most significant change has been the growth of Pentecostal and charismatic Christianity within migrant populations, particularly those from Africa and Latin America,' the report found.

'In Lewisham, there are 65 Pentecostal churches serving the Nigerian community, and others serving the Congolese, Ghanaian and Ivorian communities.'

Professor Mike Kenny of IPPR said: 'The research shows that recent waves of inward migration have given a boost to some of the UK's established faith communities at a time when Britain's society and culture are generally more secular, and smaller numbers of the indigenous population are regularly attending churches.

'Recent migration trends are altering the faith map of the UK. Their biggest impact is being felt in some of our largest cities: London above all, where a rich mosaic of different faith communities has come into being.'

Evangelical Christianity might be heavily African-influenced but it’s also spreading among the natives as well.[67]

See also: Desecularization of secular Europe in the 21st century (Focuses on the growth of Evangelical Christianity and Islam in Europe)

Decline of Asian atheism

See also: Asian atheism and East Asia and global desecularization

According to the global news website Quartz:

Atheists, agnostics, and other religious non-affiliates are a dying breed in Asia. According to a Pew Research Center study released last week, Asia’s shrinking pool of men and women who don’t identify with any religion are driving a drop in the proportion of “religious nones” in the world.

The percentage of the unaffiliated in Asia Pacific—home to about 76% of the world’s unaffiliated—will fall to 17% in 2050 from 21%, Pew estimates. ...this drop in Asia and the growth of religious communities elsewhere will mean the unaffiliated will make up only 13% of the world’s population in 2050, down from 16% in 2010.[68]

Growth of Christianity in atheistic China

See also: Growth of Christianity in China and Decline of the secular left

On November 1, 2014, an article in The Economist entitled Cracks in the atheist edifice declared:

Officials are untroubled by the clash between the city’s famously freewheeling capitalism and the Communist Party’s ideology, yet still see religion and its symbols as affronts to the party’s atheism...

Yang Fenggang of Purdue University, in Indiana, says the Christian church in China has grown by an average of 10% a year since 1980. He reckons that on current trends there will be 250m Christians by around 2030, making China’s Christian population the largest in the world. Mr. Yang says this speed of growth is similar to that seen in fourth-century Rome just before the conversion of Constantine, which paved the way for Christianity to become the religion of his empire.[69]

Ethnic Chinese migration has caused a rise of Christianity in Southeast Asia - especially charismatic Christianity.[70][71]

A January 2011 news article entitled Third Church' China's New Face of Christianity indicated:

Christianity in China began decades ago in the countryside, but today, a dramatic shift is happening.

Young professionals in big cities like Beijing and Shanghai are changing the face of Chinese Christianity, as faith moves from rural to more urban areas.

On a recent Wednesday evening, a group of men and women in their late 20s met in an apartment not too far from the city center to discuss how to thrive in their rapidly changing nation.

Those who attended are members of China's new privileged class -- highly educated, cosmopolitan, middle or even upper class of urban professionals. And they're all Christians.

"We've never had it so good in China today," Jia Li Tian, a member of the group, told CBN News. "But there's more to life that just money and materialism."...

Although Christianity continues to grow in China's countryside, experts say it's in big cities like Beijing where the church is growing fastest.

"Whereas the rural church was not able to have an impact on society as a whole, the 'Third Church' in the cities is able to do that because they are comprised of leaders who can have an impact," Peter explained. "[They are] businessmen, government officials, professors, leaders in engineering, every aspect of life...

The Chinese government has always maintained a tight grip on religion. Torture, arrests, imprisonment, and beatings of Christians are still practiced in the country.

But in recent years, authorities have made positive overtures towards house church leaders -- especially those in urban areas.[72]

Justin Wood wrote:

Ten thousand Chinese become Christians each day, according to a stunning report by ...veteran correspondent John Allen, and 200 million Chinese may comprise the world's largest concentration of Christians by mid-century, and the largest missionary force in history...

I suspect that even the most enthusiastic accounts err on the downside, and that Christianity will have become a Sino-centric religion two generations from now. China may be for the 21st century what Europe was during the 8th-11th centuries, and America has been during the past 200 years: the natural ground for mass evangelization. If this occurs, the world will change beyond our capacity to recognize it.[73]

Ethnic Chinese and the rise of Charismatic Christianity in Southeast Asia

See: Ethnic Chinese and the rise of Christianity in Southeast Asia

Desecularization and politics/influence

See also: Desecularization and politics and Culture war

The Brookings Institution, one of America's oldest think tanks, indicates:

There was a belief for centuries that modernization meant westernization and secularization. As Rabbi Sacks described, the 17th through 20th centuries were witness to the secularization of knowledge, power, culture, and morality. However, this secularization is not sustainable. According to Rabbi Sacks, the 21st century will be more religious than the 20th, even if not one religious believer persuades any skeptic, because “the more intensely you believe religiously, the more children you have.”[74]

A Christian Post in an article entitled Rabbi Jonathan Sacks: Secularism Can't Solve Today's Religious Violence; Answers Rooted in 'Sibling Rivalry' of Jews, Christians, Muslims:

But those 17th century ideas will not work in the 21st century, Sacks continued, because, "the 17th century was the beginning of an age of secularization which has lasted four centuries until now; the 21st century is exactly the opposite, it's the beginning of an age of desecularization. Religion is seizing power; they're not yielding power. ... We are going to have to do the theological work that was not done four centuries ago."[75]

American culture war, demographics and expected tipping point after 2020

See also: American atheism

Eric Kaufman wrote in his 2010 book Shall the Righteous Inherit the Earth? concerning America:

High evangelical fertility rates more than compensated for losses to liberal Protestant sects during the twentieth century. In recent decades, white secularism has surged, but Latino and Asian religious immigration has taken up the slack, keeping secularism at bay. Across denominations, the fertility advantage of religious fundamentalists of all colours is significant and growing. After 2020, their demographic weight will begin to tip the balance in the culture wars towards the conservative side, ramping up pressure on hot-button issues such as abortion. By the end of the century, three quarters of America may be pro-life. Their activism will leap over the borders of the 'Redeemer Nation' to evangelize the world. Already, the rise of the World Congress of Families has launched a global religious right, its arms stretching across the bloody lines of the War on Terror to embrace the entire Abrahamic family.[76]

Collapse of atheism in the former Soviet Union

See also: Collapse of atheism in the former Soviet Union and Decline of the secular left

A Soviet propaganda poster disseminated in the Bezbozhnik (Atheist) magazine depicting Jesus being dumped from a wheelbarrow by an industrial worker as well as a smashed church bell; the text advocates Industrialisation Day as an alternative replacement to the Christian Transfiguration Day. see: Militant atheism

In 2003, the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard published a paper by Assaf Moghadam entitled A Global Resurgence of Religion? which declared:

As the indications leave little doubt, Russia is showing clear signs of a religious resurgence. In fact, all seven criteria by which change in religious behavior and values are measured here confirmed that Russia is experiencing what could be called a religious revival. Since 1970, the nonreligious/atheist population has been on steady decline, from 52% in 1970 to 33% in 2000. Further, the percentage of this population is projected to decrease even further, possibly reaching the 20% mark in 2025. Between 1990 and 1997, belief in God has risen from 35% to a whopping 60%, while belief in the importance of God has climbed to 43% in 1997, up from 25% in 1990. More people have been raised religious in Russia in 1997 (20%) than at the beginning of the decade (18%), and 8.39% more Russians believed religion to be important toward the end of the 1990s, when compared to 1990. “Comfort in Religion” has also sharply increased within this time period, from less than 27% to over 46%. Finally, more and more Russians attend church services more regularly in 1997 than they did in 1990.

In the three Eastern European countries that were included in the WVS survey on belief in God, a drastic rise could be witnessed of respondents who answered this question in the affirmative. In Hungary, the percentage of believers in God jumped from 44% to 58% from 1981 to 1990, even prior to the collapse of the former Soviet Union. In Belarus, the number of people who believe in God nearly doubled over the course of the 1990s, from 36% to 68%, while in Latvia this figure almost quadrupled, from 18% to 67% in the same time period. Similar trends held true when it came to the importance of God, where there was a sharp rise in all three countries.[77]

Christianity Today indicated in 2017:

“The comeback of religion in a region once dominated by atheist regimes is striking,” states Pew in its latest report. Today, only 14 percent of the region’s population identify as atheists, agnostics, or “nones.” By comparison, 57 percent identify as Orthodox, and another 18 percent as Catholics.

In a massive study based on face-to-face interviews with 25,000 adults in 18 countries, Pew examined how national and religious identities have converged over the decades in Central and Eastern Europe. The result is one of the most thorough accountings of what Orthodox Christians (and their neighbors) believe and do.[78]

WIN/Gallup International studies on global atheism/religion

The 2012 WIN/Gallup International Global Index of Religion & Atheism study was rightfully criticized for its methodology and accuracy.[79][80] The study claimed that global atheism was growing in terms of its percentage of adherents.

However, even WIN/Gallup International now agrees that atheism is shrinking in terms of its global percentage of adherents (see: WIN/Gallup International studies on global atheism and religion).

The website Science 2.0 reports:

THE WORLD IS TURNING ATHEIST, the media tells us. Europe is already dominated by non-believers and plummeting church attendance figures elsewhere indicate that religion itself could disappear within a generation. Christianity is shrinking fast, extremism has soured Islam, and the fastest growing belief-system is to have no beliefs, which could lead to the world becoming a peaceful, atheist utopia. So says conventional wisdom in some quarters.1

Are there figures to back this up? Actually, no. Indeed, a close examination of empirical data about world-views tells a story that is different in almost every way—and especially in regard to humanity’s next chapter.

Atheism as a belief system has peaked and its share of humanity is shrinking, demographic studies indicate. Win/Gallup’s 2012 global poll on religion and atheism put atheists at 13%, while its 2015 poll saw that category fall to 11%. Other figures suggest the changes have deep, broad roots.[81]

Atheism vs. Christian revival

See also: Atheism vs. Christian revival and Christian apologetics

Reverend Dwight Longenecker wrote: "In the late eighteenth century atheism, rationalism and Freemasonry seemed to have taken over Europe. By the mid to late nineteenth century religious revival had swept through Europe and Christianity was surging forward."[82]

In the United States, there were a series of Christian revivals/awakenings between 1730 and the 1970s (see: First Great Awakening and Second Great Awakening and Third Great Awakening and Fourth Great Awakening and Jesus Movement).

Biblical creationism and desecularization

Global creationism is expanding rapidly.[83]

In 2011, a supporter of the Question evolution! campaign wrote:

Atheism is a religion. And atheists, time and time again, take away the religious liberty of Christians in order to promote their false religion. Evolution is the air supply of atheism. Directly confronting atheism can be useful. But, the best way for Christianity to prevail against secularism is through preventative medicine. Reaching young people with the gospel and discipling them is a first step. Yet to truly prevail against atheism, cutting off the air supply of atheism is crucial....

The direct approach of confronting atheism is important, but the indirect approach of preventing atheism through the cutting off of its air supply is also far more efficient. If Christendom is going to conquer atheist ideology, it makes perfect sense to do so in the quickest and most efficient manner possible. Let's cut atheism off at the knees and vigorously spread the Question evolution! campaign on the internet and in our local communities.[84]

The atheist Michael Ruse, evolutionist science philosopher admitted, “Evolution is a religion. This was true of evolution in the beginning, and it is true of evolution still today.”[85] See also: Evolution as a secular origins myth

Financial instability and desecularization

Evangelical Christianity has grown quickly in many countries that were experiencing economic and political instability (for example, in several areas of Latin America).[86] Given the Eurozone Crisis and the high indebtedness of many Western countries, conservative Mary Eberstadt believes that a coming imploding welfare state could cause some Western societies to shift more to a focus of faith and family and spark a religious revival.[87]

Failure of the secularization thesis

See also: Secularization thesis

Alister McGrath points out that many atheists/agnostics were angry that the secularization thesis failed because religion was "supposed to" disappear.[88]

A paper published by the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University entitled The Secularization Debate indicates:

The seminal social thinkers of the nineteenth century -- Auguste Comte, Herbert Spencer, Emile Durkheim, Max Weber, Karl Marx, and Sigmund Freud -- all believed that religion would gradually fade in importance and cease to be significant with the advent of industrial society. They were far from alone; ever since the Age of the Enlightenment, leading figures in philosophy, anthropology, and psychology have postulated that theological superstitions, symbolic liturgical rituals, and sacred practices are the product of the past that will be outgrown in the modern era. The death of religion was the conventional wisdom in the social sciences during most of the twentieth century; indeed it has been regarded as the master model of sociological inquiry, where secularization was ranked with bureaucratization, rationalization, and urbanization as the key historical revolutions transforming medieval agrarian societies into modern industrial nations. As C. Wright Mills summarized this process: “Once the world was filled with the sacred – in thought, practice, and institutional form. After the Reformation and the Renaissance, the forces of modernization swept across the globe and secularization, a corollary historical process, loosened the dominance of the sacred. In due course, the sacred shall disappear altogether except, possibly, in the private realm.”

During the last decade, however, this thesis of the slow and steady death of religion has come under growing criticism; indeed secularization theory is currently experiencing the most sustained challenge in its long history. Critics point to multiple indicators of religious health and vitality today, ranging from the continued popularity of churchgoing in the United States to the emergence of New Age spirituality in Western Europe, the growth in fundamentalist movements and religious parties in the Muslim world, the evangelical revival sweeping through Latin America, and the upsurge of ethno-religious conflict in international affairs3. After reviewing these developments, Peter L. Berger, one of the foremost advocates of secularization during the 1960s, recanted his earlier claims: “The world today, with some exceptions…is as furiously religious as it ever was, and in some places more so than ever. This means that a whole body of literature by historians and social scientists loosely labeled ‘secularization theory’ is essentially mistaken.” In a fierce and sustained critique, Rodney Stark and Roger Finke suggest it is time to bury the secularization thesis: “After nearly three centuries of utterly failed prophesies and misrepresentations of both present and past, it seems time to carry the secularization doctrine to the graveyard of failed theories, and there to whisper ‘requiescat in pace.’”[89]

Harvard University's Samuel Huntington observed: "The late 20th century has seen the global resurgence of religions around the world" (The Clash of Civilizations, p. 64).[90]

Alister McGrath points out that many atheists/agnostics were angry that the secularization thesis failed because religion was "supposed to" disappear.[91] Peter Berger said that the religiosity of the United States was a big exception to the secularization theory that should have caused social scientists to question the theory.[92]

Failed assumptions and the shock of secular social scientists to a failed theory

Peter L. Berger said that the religiosity of the United States was a big exception to the secularization theory that should have caused social scientists to question the theory.[93] See also: American atheism

Douglas S. Winnail wrote:

Secular leaders and scholars have been surprised by the resurgence of religion, because they put their faith in the assumption that modernization would lead to secularization and to the decline of religion. This idea—the so-called "secularization theory"—is widely accepted in academic and political circles. It assumes that as societies modernize and become more secular, religion will wither away as an archaic and useless branch of knowledge. Their assumption was that if religion became irrelevant, and human beings became more reasonable, they would dwell together in peace and happiness in a modernized world.

However, human history did not follow this "reasonable" path to a secular utopia. The closing decades of the 20th century "provide a massive falsification of the idea" that modernization and secularization will lead to a decline in religion. Instead, we are witnessing a massive upsurge in religion around the world (The Desecularization of the World: Resurgent Religion and World Politics, Berger, p. 6). This resurgence of religion has also played a part in an increasing number of violent conflicts around the world. Secular intellectuals and elites have been shocked by this development, because it is proving that their fundamental assumptions about human beings and human society are absolutely wrong! The modern secular notion that religion is archaic and irrelevant has caused many to overlook the importance of religion in human affairs. As a result, they have been taken by surprise by the return of religion. As Peter Berger, one of the world's leading sociologists of religion, wrote: "Those who neglect religion in their analysis of contemporary affairs do so at great peril" (Berger, p. 18). But what has spawned the modern revival of religion, and the spreading rejection of secular society?[94]

Secularism is exhausted and unconfident

See also: Decline of the atheist movement

In 2011, atheist Jacques Berlinerblau declared: "The Golden Age of Secularism has passed."[95]

Eric Kaufmann, an agnostic professor whose academic research specialty is how demographic changes affect religion/irreligion and politics, wrote in 2010:

Worldwide, the march of religion can probably only be reversed by a renewed, self-aware secularism. Today, it appears exhausted and lacking in confidence... Secularism's greatest triumphs owe less to science than to popular social movements like nationalism, socialism and 1960s anarchist-liberalism. Ironically, secularism's demographic deficit means that it will probably only succeed in the twenty-first century if it can create a secular form of 'religious' enthusiasm.[96]

In recent years, a number of notable atheists have expressed pessimism about the future of the atheist movement (see: Decline of the atheist movement).

Baylor University researchers: American Christianity is not on the decline

See also: Baylor University researchers on American Christianity and American atheism

Pat Neff Hall at Baylor University.

In November 2015, the Christian Post reported

Distinguished scholars from Baylor University on Tuesday decried the myth that religion is on the decline in America and argued that it's actually growing and is stronger than ever.

Professors from Baylor University's Institute for Religion Studies in Waco, Texas, participated in a panel discussion at the National Press Club focusing on the "secularization myth," where they lambasted the media's spin on various surveys which has led many to believe that irreligion is on the rise in the United States...

J. Gordon Melton, professor of American religious history, explained that although Mainline denominations have lost membership in recent years, the number of denominations in America has increased steadily since the 1960s. Now, there are over 1,000 denominations in the U.S.

Melton cited the Encyclopedia of American Religion and the 2010 American Religious Census to show that, as the American population has risen, church membership in America has risen at a much quicker rate.[97]

The Baylor University website similarly declares:

Recent coverage of American religious life, by focusing on the decline of some of the larger denominations and the new organized life of non-theistic communities, have missed the larger story that since World War II, religion in the United States has grown spectacularly and ahead of the population curve. America is now the most religious it has ever been with Church membership at an all-time high and relatively new worshipping communities representing the spectrum of the world's religions now spread across the urban landscape. As a nation in which the great majority of its people have affiliated with a religious community, without government coercion, America is possibly the most religious country that the world has ever seen.”[98]

See also

Recommended books

  • Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth?: Demography and Politics in the 21st Century (Profile Books, 2010)
  • Religion and the State in Russia and China: Suppression, Survival, and Revival by Christopher Marsh, 2011, ISBN 13: 9781441112477
  • The Desecularization of the World: Resurgent Religion and World Politics by Peter L. Berger, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (143p), 1999, ISBN 978-0-8028-4691-4 [99]

External links

Videos:

Essay:

Notes

  1. Global Study: Atheists in Decline, Only 1.8% of World Population by 2020
  2. Religion and the State in Russia and China: Suppression, Survival and Revival by Christopher Marsh, 2011, page 11 (Christopher Marsh cites the definitions of desecularization given by Peter L. Berger and Vyacheslav Karpov)
  3. The return of religion
  4. Atheism Peaks, While Spiritual Groups Move Toward Convergence by Nury Vittachi, July 14, 2015, website Sciene 2.0
  5. Publisher's Weekly Review of The Desecularization of the World: Resurgent Religion and World Politics by Peter L. Berger
  6. Kirkus Reviews- FIRE FROM HEAVEN: Pentecostalism, Spirituality, and the Reshaping of Religion in the Twenty-First Century by Harvey Cox
  7. Karen Armstrong, The Battle for God, p. 9
  8. Journal of Church and State, Desecularization: A Conceptual Framework by Vyacheslav Karpov, 2010
  9. Peter L. Berger, “The Desecularization of the World: A Global Overview,” in The Desecularization of the World: Resurgent Religion and World Politics, ed. Peter L. Berger (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1999)
  10. What does the historical record say about how fast secularism can collapse in countries?
  11. World's biggest atheist population about to see a big decline
  12. Berlinerblau, Jacques (February 4, 2011). "Obama at the National Prayer Breakfast". The Chronicle of Higher Education/Brainstorm blog. Retrieved on May 29, 2015.
  13. Global Study: Atheists in Decline, Only 1.8% of World Population by 2020
  14. 97% of the world's population growth is taking place in the developing world, where 95% of people are religious, Tuesday, April 30, 2013
  15. Eric Kaufmann - Religion, Demography and Politics in the 21st Century
  16. Eric Kaufmann: Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth?, Australian Broadcasting Corporation
  17. Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth?: Demography and Politics in the Twenty-First Century by Eric Kaufmann, Belfer Center, Harvard University/Birkbeck College, University of London
  18. Shall the religious inherit the earth by David Kaufmann
  19. Early paper - Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth?: Demography and Politics in the Twenty-First Century by Eric Kaufmann, Belfer Center, Harvard University/Birkbeck College, University of London
  20. Early paper - Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth?: Demography and Politics in the Twenty-First Century by Eric Kaufmann, Belfer Center, Harvard University/Birkbeck College, University of London
  21. Shall the religious inherit the earth
  22. *European immigration will pour Christian creationists into Europe
  23. British academic Eric Kaufmann says "the rate of secularisation has flattened to zero in most of Protestant Europe and France". Also, Kaufmann writes that secularism "appears exhausted and lacking in confidence"
  24. Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth?: Demography and Politics in the Twenty-First Century by Eric Kaufmann, Belfer Center, Harvard University/Birkbeck College, University of London
  25. Big Ideas Eric Kaufmann
  26. France and evangelicalism - Christian Post
  27. 5 facts about the Muslim population in Europe
  28. Ghanaian pastor seeks to 're-Christianize' Germany
  29. 5 facts about the Muslim population in Europe
  30. 5 facts about the Muslim population in Europe
  31. Philip Jenkins, Demographics, Religion, and the Future of Europe, Orbis: A Journal of World Affairs, vol. 50, no. 3, pp. 533, summer 2006
  32. Far-right parties in Europe seek to expel Muslims: Scholar, Press TV
  33. Europe's Deep Right-Wing Logic By Robert D. Kaplan
  34. Europe’s Immigration Crisis
  35. 10 reasons why biblical Christianity will flood the UK in the 21st century
  36. Feminist Futility: Why the Women's March Promises a Conservative Future by Steve Turley, Christian Post
  37. The Future Will Be More Religious and Conservative Than You Think by Eric Kaufmann, American Enterprise Institute
  38. Study discusses emerging trend in science-versus-religion debate: Post-Secularism by Chiamaka Nwakeze | Science Recorder | January 30, 2015
  39. Postsecular - James A. Beckford in the Department of Sociology at the University of Warwick
  40. Google trends: Interest in atheism and evolution down. Google searches for God are up. Atheism beaches will be softened up before major attacks on atheism
  41. Jurgen Habermas on the Vision of a Post-Secular Europe, Modern Diplomacy
  42. Jurgen Habermas on the Vision of a Post-Secular Europe, Modern Diplomacy
  43. The Return of Religion - Tomorrow's World
  44. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks: Secularism Can't Solve Today's Religious Violence; Answers Rooted in 'Sibling Rivalry' of Jews, Christians, Muslims, Christian Post, By Napp Nazworth , Christian Post, June 23, 2015
  45. Atheist: A dying breed as nature favours faithful
  46. Atheist: A dying breed as nature favours faithful
  47. Charted: The religions that make the most babies, Washington Post
  48. Global adherents of the major religions/worldviews, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary's Center for the Study of Global Christianity
  49. Status of Global Christianity, 2015, in the Context of 1900–2050
  50. Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth?: Demography and Politics in the Twenty-First Century by Eric Kaufmann
  51. Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth?: Demography and Politics in the Twenty-First Century by Eric Kaufmann
  52. Religious immigrants will alter the religious landscape of Europe
  53. Religious immigrants will alter the religious landscape of Europe
  54. Religious immigrants will alter the religious landscape of Europe
  55. Eric Kaufmann - Religion, Demography and Politics in the 21st Century
  56. Eric Kaufmann - Religion, Demography and Politics in the 21st Century
  57. In a France suspicious of religion, evangelicalism's message strikes a chord
  58. Shall the religious inherit the earth
  59. In a France suspicious of religion, evangelicalism's message strikes a chord
  60. London Churchgoing and Other News
  61. London Churchgoing and Other News
  62. I'm not surprised Evangelical Christianity is on the rise by Ed West, The Telegraph, December 14th, 2009
  63. Across the Asia Pacific, the population of atheists and agnostics is shrinking
  64. [Cracks in the atheist edifice], The Economist, November 1, 2014
  65. The State Of Pentecostalism In Southeast Asia: Ethnicity, Class And Leadership – Analysis, Eurasia Review
  66. UNDERSTANDING THE RAPID RISE OF CHARISMATIC CHRISTIANITY IN SOUTHEAST ASIA, Singapore Management University, 2010
  67. Third Church' China's New Face of Christianity, January 2011 CBN News article
  68. Christianity Finds a Fulcrum in Asia by Justin Wood
  69. Rabbi Sacks: Three things western civilization got wrong about religion by Liz Sablich, November 16, 2015, Brookings Institute website
  70. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks: Secularism Can't Solve Today's Religious Violence; Answers Rooted in 'Sibling Rivalry' of Jews, Christians, Muslims
  71. Why are 2012 and 2020 key years for Christian creationists and pro-lifers?
  72. A Global Resurgence of Religion? by Assaf Moghadam, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University
  73. Pew: Here’s How Badly Soviet Atheism Failed in Europe. Christianity Today, 2017
  74. GLOBAL ATHEISM ON THE RISE--REALLY? by Nigel Tomes
  75. Another major flaw found in a survey which claimed global atheism is rising
  76. Atheism Peaks, While Spiritual Groups Move Toward Convergence by By Nury Vittachi | July 13th 2015 09:31 PM, Science 2.0 website
  77. The Facts: Atheism is Dying Out, by Rev. Dwight Longenecker, April 8, 2015
  78. Global creationism
  79. Cutting off the air supply of atheism
  80. 15 questions for evolutionists
  81. Economics adn Darwinism
  82. An Interview With Mary Eberstadt On Her New Book “How the West Really Lost God: A New Theory of Secularization”, interview by John Hawkins.
  83. 'Why God Won't Go Away' by Alister McGrath
  84. The Secularization Debate
  85. The Return of Religion
  86. 'Why God Won't Go Away' by Alister McGrath
  87. Professor Peter Berger on Resurgence of Religion and Decline of Secularization Theory
  88. Professor Peter Berger on Resurgence of Religion and Decline of Secularization Theory
  89. The Return of Religion
  90. Berlinerblau, Jacques (February 4, 2011). "Obama at the National Prayer Breakfast". The Chronicle of Higher Education/Brainstorm blog. Retrieved on May 29, 2015.
  91. Shall the religious inherit the earth? - Eric Kaufmann
  92. Christianity Is Not Declining in America, Baylor University Professors Say, Christian Post, November 11, 2015
  93. Scholars Will Challenge “Secularization Myth” Nov. 10 at National Press Club
  94. Publisher's Weekly Review of The Desecularization of the World: Resurgent Religion and World Politics by Peter L. Berger