Maybe Religion Has a Future After All

Travel back in time to, say, the early seventies and—obviously, first things first—get thee to the closest sociology department. What you’ll probably find when you start asking about religion is lots of talk about how, and how soon, the whole mess will disappear into an invisible, private emptiness, having been vanquished by the onslaught of secular, scientific technocracy. But then, spend a few years doing your favorite stereotypical 70s and 80s activities and check back. The story, you’ll find, has changed. Suddenly, with a religious right and militant Islam on the rise, religion has a future after all.

Today, the question is much more interesting: not whether religion has a future, but what future? And for what communities in what religions? Religion’s futurity is such a certainty that our friends over at are banking on it; they’ve staked a business model on the idea that information about religion matters enough to be valuable. And, in the process, they’re hosting fascinating discussions like this one on, you guessed it: The Future of Religion.

For centuries, Western thinkers assumed that religion would decline throughout the world as scientific ideas spread and replace “superstition” with modern, rational, secular ways of life.

In recent decades, however, that assumption has faded. Across the globe, religion remains an influential force, one that impacts how we view ourselves, each other, and the world around us.

As new forms of worship and belief continue to evolve in the twenty-first century, we have asked thought leaders from a variety of religious traditions to talk about the future of religion. What trends will influence how people across the spectrum of faiths worship and practice? What are the challenges and opportunities that will confront faith leaders? What are the controversial issues? Will cooperation or conflict between religions be dominant in the years ahead? What reform movements will shape the future of belief?

Essays will tackle such subjects as race, interfaith relations, blogging, theological controversies, gender issues, proselytizing, music, emerging movements, politics, and film.

They’ve got some real hot shots in play here. Gavin Flood on Hinduism. James Martin on Catholicism. Philip Clayton on Protestantism. And many more. Take a look.