Is the world becoming more religious?

IS the world becoming more religious? According to the latest wave of World Values Surveys, 24 out of 42 countries have seen an increasing proportion of people who say religion is important in life. Four have seen the percentage unchanged, and 14 countries have seen it decline.

People also report they’re going to church, mosque, or synagogue more often. Of the 42 countries that took part in the latest World Values Survey round and at least one previous round, the proportion of people who claim to attend religious services once a week or more has climbed in 22, stayed the same in two, and declined in 18.


10 thoughts on “Is the world becoming more religious?

  1. Given the current climate of religion inspired terrorism, I recently visited a think tank on religious freedom. The extract below might shed some light on the issue of world becoming more religious:

    Religious Freedom in America
    What does the future hold for the country? For the church?
    The recent presidential election showed how complicated the religious liberty landscape in America has become.
    It unfolded a bit like a disorienting game of musical chairs: Catholic bishops defended religious liberty like old-fashioned Protestants; Evangelical Protestants supported a Republican presidential ticket that stumped for prayer in schools and government support for religion, sounding like pre-Vatican II Catholics; and President Barack Obama, a self-professed Christian with a Muslim-influenced upbringing, proffered secularist positions on abortion and gay marriage that were contrary to those religious traditions.
    President Obama’s victory means that secularist values will likely become even more of a concern for religious liberty and institutions during the next four years. This challenge to religious freedom from the Left will ensure that agitation from the Evangelical Right and the Roman Catholic Church will also intensify, as they seek to protect religious freedom and to promote a special role for Christianity in our society. The net result will continue to be challenges to genuine religious liberty from both the political Left and the Right.
    Going to Extremes
    Given the political climate, challenges from the Left will be most immediately pressing. Adding to the pressure on religious freedom, three more states, Washington, Maryland, and New Hampshire, joined several states that have now legalized same-sex marriage. Initiatives passed in Colorado and Washington legalizing marijuana use and, in Maryland, vastly expanding casino gambling.
    Faith-based schools and colleges, both Catholic and Protestant, have sued the government over the requirement to provide contraceptive coverage in their private health insurance plans, including paying for drugs that induce abortions.
    Where same-sex marriage is legal, religious institutions have come under pressure to adopt sexual lifestyle policies for employees and students that are contrary to their understandings of Scripture. Commercial institutions have fewer protections than not-for-profits. Already companies such as Hobby Lobby and Chick-Fil-A have come under media and legal pressure to conform their practices to the mores of the secularist Left.
    In another disturbing development—and a portent of things to come—California in October enacted a law to make illegal any attempt by a licensed counselor, therapist, physician, or health worker to provide counseling to modify or alter same-sex attractions to any person under the age of 18, even if that person desires such counseling. This legal development should dash any thought that same-sex marriage regimes will operate in a “live-and-let-live” manner.

    Churches in California can still teach and preach biblical views of sexuality, but Christian counselors—including pastors with counseling licenses—are forbidden from helping the church’s young people to actually live and practice those beliefs.

    The law is under legal challenge, so far with mixed results. But whatever the eventual outcome, this is an indicator of the Left’s desire to legally suppress those elements of the church’s morality and practice that conflict with secularist values.

    A very real danger, of course, is that the Left’s pressure on religious institutions will provoke a backlash from the Right, one that itself could endanger religious freedoms. Indeed, suppression by majority religions of minority religious rights is envisioned in the creed of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, an outspoken advocate for religious freedom.

    A countryman who happens to share my real name explained to me that:
    – The Political/Religious Left (who advocates gay marriage, abortion on demand, etc within a religious context) could make people so disgusted with the lack of morals of the Political/Religious left that they will turn to the Religious/Political Right for refuge.
    – The Political/Religious Left’s refusal to “live and let live” in regards to religion (recent ACL abuse from the gay community is a prime example) will set precedents that the Religious/Political Right can use against them.
    – Should the Religious/Political Right ever attain political power and influence, they will not stop at correcting the evils caused by the Political/Religious Left. They will also persecute religious minorities that do not agree with them.
    – Thus people like atheists, could have religion forced upon them.
    – And the world could be seen as becoming more religious.


      • So that is where the information came from!

        The think tank that I am referring to is part of an Australian Government Organisation that I am associated with. Part of this think tank involves members of various religious organisations, especially those with a vested interest in how religious liberty is affected talking about issues which may put civil freedoms we have taken for granted at risk.

        Nevertheless the points made in the article stand. Do you know the statistics of those coming from either atheism or left wing political leanings to religion because of disgust with the left?


      • Really? Which Australian Government organisation think tank? I am unaware of any such body so please enlighten me.

        I don’t think God is either Right-wing or Left-wing. To assign political strictures on God or to think that his followers must be left or right to be “real” Christians is to misunderstand what His Kingdom is about.


      • Bryan

        “I don’t think God is either Right-wing or Left-wing. To assign political strictures on God or to think that his followers must be left or right to be “real” Christians is to misunderstand what His Kingdom is about.”

        The terminology was used to describe mainstream Christianity today, after ignoring God’s word to pursue political supremacy. Both ignore what the Bible says, both try to impose their version of Christianity upon those who would not agree with them. And both manipulate statistics to show that the majority is on their side.

        Which means you need to be very clear about your statement that the world is becoming more religious. Is it so because of personal conviction, or is it due to political pressure from the right or the left? Is it truly religious or is it lip service to religion?

        If it did nothing else, the Adventist extract that was presented, outlined a scenario of how people could become more religious – by being counted against their will in one or the other camp. Or by political pressure from one or the other camps.

        But let’s bring the situation closer to home. Did the Hyatt support the Christian Right as the LGBT suggested in their obscene remarks on social media? Or was the Hyatt being unfairly tarnished because they tried to remain impartial in the conflict between the LGBT and the Christian right?


      • Davinci,
        Yes I appreciate your general points.

        Did the Hyatt support the Christian Right as the LGBT suggested

        No I don’t believe so.

        Or was the Hyatt being unfairly tarnished because they tried to remain impartial in the conflict between the LGBT and the Christian right?

        Definitely. The hotel did the right and impartial thing. The gay activists involved were trying to stifle debate. That’s never right, no matter who tries to do so.

        BTW It wasn’t MY statement that the world is becoming more religious. It was a news story that I posted for debate. My personal opinion is more in line with what you’ve posted.


      • Da Vinci are you involved in the institute on Religion and Public Policy which looks after religious freedoms ?


  2. How many of the world’s religious leaders will endorse the Pope’s latest announcement?

    Such honesty could influence more people to take another look at religion.

    Pope Francis has continued his habit of making provocative, seemingly progressive statements, while delivering an address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. The pontiff appeared to endorse the theory of the Big Bang and told the gathering at the Vatican that there was no contradiction between believing in God as well as the prevailing scientific theories regarding the expansion of our universe.

    “When we read about creation in Genesis, we run the risk of imagining God was a magician, with a magic wand able to do everything. But that is not so,” Francis said. “He created human beings and let them develop according to the internal laws that he gave to each one so they would reach their fulfillment.”

    The Pope avoids gesturing at the thorny issue (at least for some Christians) of whether humans descended from apes. Atheists argue, moreover, that understanding the Big Bang and what emerged from that cosmic moment obviates a need to believe in a deity. On that count, Francis obviously disagrees. He repeated the idea of God not being a “magician,” an entity that conjured all into being.

    “God is not a divine being or a magician, but the Creator who brought everything to life,” Francis said. “Evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation, because evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve.”

    In other words, to borrow from an earlier Enlightenment idea, God is more a clockmaker than a wizard.

    Such thinking is not new for the Catholic Church, which for six decades – since the reforms of Pope Pius XII – has espoused belief in theistic evolution. That hinges, of course, on the fundamental acceptance of a higher power.

    A 2006 article in the Vatican’s main newspaper also distanced the Catholic Church from the idea of “intelligent design”, which it said should not be taught in schools as science. The Catholic News Service, which summarises the article here, explains what distinguishes the Vatican’s thinking from more secular understandings of evolution.

    What the church does insist upon is that the emergence of the human supposes a wilful act of God, and that man cannot be seen as only the product of evolutionary processes, it said. The spiritual element of man is not something that could have developed from natural selection but required an “ontological leap”.

    Francis’ more conservative predecessor Pope Benedict XVI espoused this view and found the American debate between creationists and those who backed evolution “absurd”. He asked in 2007 why “those who believe in the Creator would not be able to conceive of evolution, and those who instead support evolution would have to exclude God”.

    Pope Francis also delivered an off-the-cuff, mini-encyclical on the rights of the poor, the injustices of unemployment, and the need for environmental protection on Tuesday, saying he’s not preaching communism but the Gospel.

    He said the poor need land, a roof over their head and work, and said he knew well that “if I talk about this, some will think that the pope is communist”.

    “They don’t understand that love for the poor is at the centre of the Gospel,” he said. “Demanding this isn’t unusual, it’s the social doctrine of the church.”

    Francis’ remarks to the World Meeting of Popular Movements, delivered in his native Spanish, ran for more than six pages, single-spaced.

    Francis has already been branded a Marxist by conservative US commentators for his unbridled criticism of capitalist excesses, for his demand that governments redistribute social benefits to the needy, and his call for the church to be a “poor church, for the poor”.

    His speech on Tuesday broadened his concerns to include the environment, the rights for farmers to have land, and for young people to have work. He promised that the concerns of the poor would be highlighted in his upcoming encyclical on ecology and the environment.

    Washington Post, AP

    Read more:


    • The Pope did not say this.
      “In other words, to borrow from an earlier Enlightenment idea, God is more a clockmaker than a wizard.”

      I think the author presumes too much, that God is neither a clockmaker leaving us to our own devices, nor a magician waving a wand.

      My own belief is that He created a system where angels are set to look over us, where mankind can grow spiritually, accepting Him and being of service to His will.


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