The Great Awakening?


Sociologist and Historian Rodney Stark thinks so:

Many intellectuals insist that a worldwide triumph of secularization is inevitable, and they applaud whatever is interpreted as a sign of religious decline. Religious believers, meanwhile, lament these same signs. The crucial point is that both sides accept the premise that the world is becoming more secular.

Well, they are both wrong.

The world is not merely as religious as it used to be. In important ways, it is much more intensely religious than ever before. Around the globe, four out of every five people claim to belong to an organized faith, and many of the rest say they attend worship services. In Latin America, Pentecostal Protestant churches have converted tens of millions, and Catholics are going to Mass in unprecedented numbers. There are more churchgoing Christians in Sub-Saharan Africa than anywhere else on earth, and China may soon become home of the most Christians. Meanwhile, Islam enjoys far higher levels of member commitment than it has for many centuries, and the same is true for Hinduism.

Despite all this, the media regularly report new “proofs” of the rapid decline of religion in America and abroad. In May, the Pew Research Center released its latest Religious Landscape Survey. Pew’s director of religion, Alan Cooperman, summed it up by saying, “The country is becoming less religious as a whole, and it’s happening across the board.” Pew followed up with another survey in November, trumpeting its findings with the headline “U.S. Public Becoming Less Religious.”

But, despite these confident proclamations about the decline of religion, Pew’s findings were certainly misleading and probably wrong, for reasons you’ll soon see. The decline of religion elsewhere is merely wishful thinking and entirely at odds with reliable data.

Every important claim that I make in my book The Triumph of Faith is based on carefully reported solid evidence. The empirical backbone of my book is provided by the truly remarkable Gallup World Polls, which began in 2005 and consist of annual, national surveys conducted in 163 nations that by now add up to more than a million interviews. Never before has a scholar had access to such a body of data.

And what do the data tell us? Quite simply, that a massive religious awakening is taking place around the world.


Go here to read the rest.


Say not the struggle nought availeth,
     The labour and the wounds are vain,
The enemy faints not, nor faileth,
     And as things have been they remain.

If hopes were dupes, fears may be liars;
     It may be, in yon smoke concealed,
Your comrades chase e’en now the fliers,
     And, but for you, possess the field.

For while the tired waves, vainly breaking
     Seem here no painful inch to gain,
Far back through creeks and inlets making,
     Comes silent, flooding in, the main.

And not by eastern windows only,
     When daylight comes, comes in the light,
In front the sun climbs slow, how slowly,
     But westward, look, the land is bright.
Arthur Hugh Clough


More to explorer


  1. All of this is news to me. I would tend to agree with Rodney in terms the quantity of “believers” perhaps, but question what it is they believe in. In other words, what is the quality their belief. In the Catholic Church, we say that the second largest “religious” group are ex-Catholics, who for the purposes of Rodney’s data, may be considered religious. Bottom line for me: I remain skeptical–but open.

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