What Is The Future Of Religion? – A Worldwide Religious Awakening

Here’s how he begins, with a discussion of specific trends (both encouraging and disappointing) afterwards:

It is a very religious world, far more religious than it was 50 years ago. Gallup World Poll Surveys [link?] of more than a million people living in 163 nations show that:

— 81 percent claim to belong to an organized religious faith, and most of the rest report engaging in religious activities such as prayer or making offerings to the gods in various “folk religion” temples.

— 74 percent say religion is an important part of their daily lives.

— 50 percent report they have attended a place of worship or religious service in the past seven days.

In very few nations do as many as five percent claim to be atheists, and only in China, Vietnam, and South Korea do they exceed 20 percent.

Furthermore, in every nook and cranny left by organized faiths, all manner of unconventional spiritual and mystical practices are booming. There are more occult healers than medical doctors in Russia, 38 percent of the French believe in astrology, 35 percent of the Swiss agree that “some fortune tellers really can foresee the future,” and nearly everyone in Japan is careful to have their new car blessed by a Shinto priest.

Hat tip: Alan Jacobs



  1. It’s hard to tell what this means with the snapshots Stark provides, though I guess I could just trust his conclusions which seem reasonable. Still, I’m curious to see the actual graphs and statistics over time to get a sense of the correlations.

    The rise of Islam is particularly curious given modern terrorism and I wonder if Islamist terrorism actually serves to promote the religion.

    Even atheists seem to be becoming more religious, fleshing out their “gods” and finding value in mimicking church community.

    Tangentially, this also brings to mind the irony of how religious freedom is classified as a secular value in opposition to Christianity rather than in accordance with it.

  2. I think the fact that modern secularism emerged in opposition to Christendom in the 1600s and 1700s and in the wake of the wars that came out of the combination of church-splitting and state-building of the 1500s and 1600s engrained the view of Christianity as oppressive in the secular mindset, and thus religious freedom as secular (though they have a point, since religious freedom did seem to take off at least partly under Enlightenment influence). Paralleling your observation about religious atheists, secularists have their own lists of prophets and martyrs that reinforce this. I hear students say with some frequency that the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment were the first time that people began to think for themselves.

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