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In
sociology Sociology is a social science Social science is the branch The branches and leaves of a tree. A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the scie ...
, secularization (or secularisation) is the transformation of a
society A society is a group A group is a number A number is a mathematical object used to counting, count, measurement, measure, and nominal number, label. The original examples are the natural numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, and so forth. Numbers can be ...

society
from close identification with
religious values Religious values reflect the beliefs and practices which a religious adherent partakes in. Most values originate from sacred texts of each respective religion. They can also originate from members of the religion. Members of particular religions are ...
and
institution Institutions, according to Samuel P. Huntington Samuel Phillips Huntington (April 18, 1927 – December 24, 2008) was an American political scientist, adviser and academic. He spent more than half a century at Harvard University Ha ...
s toward non-religious values and
secular Secularity, also the secular or secularness (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through t ...

secular
institutions. The ''secularization thesis'' expresses the idea that as societies progress, particularly through
modernization Modernization theory is used to explain the process of modernization within societies. Modernization theory originated from the ideas of German sociologist Max Weber Maximilian Karl Emil Weber (; ; 21 April 186414 June 1920) was a German socio ...
,
rationalization Rationalization may refer to: * Rationalization (economics), an attempt to change an ''ad hoc'' workflow into one based on published rules; also, jargon for a reduction in staff * Rationalisation (mathematics), the process of removing a square root ...
, and advances in science and technology, religious authority diminishes in all aspects of social life and governance."The Secularization Debate"
chapter 1 (pp
332
of
In recent years, the secularization thesis has been challenged due to some global studies indicating that the irreligious population of the world may be in decline as a percentage of the world population due to irreligious countries having subreplacement fertility rates and religious countries having higher birth rates in general. Christian sociologist Peter L. Berger coined the term desecularization to describe this phenomenon. In addition, secularization rates are stalling or reversing in some countries/regions such as the countries in the former
Soviet Union The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a that spanned during its existence from 1922 to 1991. It was nominally a of multiple national ; in practice and were highly until its final years. The ...
or large cities in the
Western World The Western world, also known as the West, refers to various regions, nations and state (polity), states, depending on the context, most often consisting of the majority of Europe, Northern America, and Australasia.
with significant amounts of religious immigrants. As a second meaning, the term "secularization" may also occur in the context of the lifting of monastic restrictions from a member of the clergy.


Overview

Secularization, in the main, sociological meaning of the term, involves the historical process in which
religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and whether the exchange is voluntary/involuntary. Etymology ...

religion
loses social and cultural significance. As a result of secularization the role of religion in modern societies becomes restricted. In secularized societies
faith Faith, derived from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of ...

faith
lacks cultural authority, and religious organizations have little social power. Secularization has many levels of meaning, both as a
theory A theory is a rational Rationality is the quality or state of being rational – that is, being based on or agreeable to reason Reason is the capacity of consciously making sense of things, applying logic Logic (from Ancient Greek, G ...

theory
and as a historical process. Social theorists such as
Karl Marx Karl Heinrich Marx (; 5 May 1818 – 14 March 1883) was a German philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, M ...

Karl Marx
(1818–1883),
Sigmund Freud Sigmund Freud ( , ; born Sigismund Schlomo Freud; 6 May 1856 – 23 September 1939) was an Austrian neurologist Neurology (from el, νεῦρον (neûron), "string, nerve" and the suffix -logia, "study of") is a branch of medicine M ...

Sigmund Freud
(1856–1939),
Max Weber Maximilian Karl Emil Weber (; ; 21 April 186414 June 1920) was a German Sociology, sociologist, historian, jurist, and political economy, political economist regarded as among the most important theorists of the development of Modernity, modern ...

Max Weber
(1864–1920), and
Émile Durkheim David Émile Durkheim ( or ; 15 April 1858 – 15 November 1917) was a French sociologist. He formally established the academic discipline of sociology and, with Max Weber Maximilian Karl Emil Weber (; ; 21 April 186414 June 1920) was a Ge ...

Émile Durkheim
(1858–1917) postulated that the modernization of society would include a decline in levels of
religiosity The concept of religiosity has proven difficult to define. The Oxford English Dictionary The ''Oxford English Dictionary'' (''OED'') is the principal historical dictionary of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, ...
. Study of this process seeks to determine the manner in which, or extent to which religious
creed A creed, also known as a confession of faith, symbol, or statement of faith, is a statement of the shared belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psychology) In psychology ...
s, practices, and institutions are losing social significance. Some theorists argue that the secularization of modern civilization partly results from our inability to adapt the broad ethical and spiritual needs of mankind to the increasingly fast advance of the physical sciences. In contrast to the "modernization" thesis, Christian Smith and others argue that intellectual and cultural élites promote secularization to enhance their own status and influence. Smith believes that
intellectual An intellectual is a person who engages in critical thinking Critical thinking is the analysis of facts to form a judgment. The subject is complex; several different Critical thinking#Definitions, definitions exist, which generally includ ...
s have an inherent tendency to be hostile to their native cultures, causing them to embrace secularism. The term "secularization" also has additional meanings, primarily historical and religious. Applied to church property, historically it refers to the seizure of church lands and buildings, such as
Henry VIII Henry VIII (28 June 149128 January 1547) was King of England This list of kings and queens of the Kingdom of England The Kingdom of England was a sovereign state on the island of Great Britain from 12 July 927, when it emerged fro ...

Henry VIII
's 16th-century
dissolution of the monasteries#REDIRECT Dissolution of the monasteries {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from other capitalisation ...
in England and the later acts during the 18th-century
French Revolution The French Revolution ( ) was a period of radical political and societal change in France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a spanning and in the and the , and s. Its ...

French Revolution
, as well as by various
anti-clerical Anti-clericalism is opposition to religious authority, typically in social or political matters. Historical anti-clericalism has mainly been opposed to the influence of Roman Catholicism The Catholic Church, often referred to as the Roman ...

anti-clerical
enlightened absolutist European governments during the 18th and 19th centuries, which resulted in the expulsion and suppression of the religious communities which occupied them. The 19th-century ''
Kulturkampf ''Kulturkampf'' (, 'culture struggle') was the conflict that took place from 1872 to 1878 between the government of the Kingdom of Prussia The Kingdom of Prussia (german: Königreich Preußen) was a German Monarchy, kingdom that constituted th ...
'' in Germany and Switzerland and similar events in many other countries also were expressions of secularization. Still another form of secularization refers to the act of
Prince-Bishop A prince-bishop is a bishop who is also the civil ruler of some Secularity, secular principality and sovereignty. Thus the principality or Hochstift, prince-bishopric ruled politically by a prince-bishop could wholly or largely overlap with his ...
s or holders of a position in a Monastic or Military Order - holding a combined religious and secular authority under the Catholic Church - who broke away and made themselves into completely secular (typically,
Protestant Protestantism is a form of that originated with the 16th-century , a movement against what its followers perceived to be in the . Protestants originating in the Reformation reject the Roman Catholic doctrine of , but disagree among themselves ...
) hereditary rulers. For example,
Gotthard Kettler Gotthard Kettler, Duke of Courland (also ''Ketteler'', german: Gotthard Kettler, Herzog von Kurland; 2 February 1517 – 17 May 1587) was the last Master of the Livonian Order and the first Duke of Courland and Semigallia. Biography Kettler was b ...

Gotthard Kettler
(1517–1587), the last Master of the
Livonian Order The Livonian Order was an autonomous branch of the Teutonic Order, formed in 1237. From 1435 to 1561 it was a member of the Livonian Confederation. History The order was formed from the remnants of the Livonian Brothers of the Sword after their ...
, converted to
Lutheranism Lutheranism is one of the largest branches of Protestantism Protestantism is a form of Christianity Christianity is an , based on the and of . It is the , with about 2.5 billion followers. Its adherents, known as , make up a major ...
, secularised (and took to himself) the lands of
Semigallia Semigallia, also spelt Semigalia, ( lv, Zemgale; german: Semgallen; lt, Žiemgala; pl, Semigalia; liv, Zemgāl) is a historical region located in the south of the Daugava river , be, Заходняя Дзвіна (), liv, Vēna, et, Väina ...
and
Courland Courland (; lv, Kurzeme; liv, Kurāmō; German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nat ...
which he had held on behalf of the order - which enabled him to marry and leave to his descendants the
Duchy of Courland and Semigallia The Duchy of Courland and Semigallia ( la, Ducatus Curlandiæ et Semigalliæ; german: Herzogtum Kurland und Semgallen; lv, Kurzemes un Zemgales hercogiste; lt, Kuršo ir Žiemgalos kunigaikštystė; pl, Księstwo Kurlandii i Semigalii) was ...
. The 1960s saw a trend toward increasing secularization in Western Europe, North America, Australia, and New Zealand. This transformation accompanied major social factors: economic prosperity, youth rebelling against the rules and conventions of society,
sexual revolution The sexual revolution, also known as a time of sexual liberation, was a social movement that challenged traditional codes of behavior related to sexuality and interpersonal relationships throughout the United States from the 1960s to the 1980s ...
,
women's liberation The women's liberation movement (WLM) was a political alignment of women and feminist intellectualism that emerged in the late 1960s and continued into the 1980s primarily in the industrialized nations of the Western world, which effected great c ...
, radical theology, and radical politics.


Background

Secularization is sometimes credited both to the cultural shifts in society following the emergence of
rationality Rationality is the quality or state of being rational – that is, being based on or agreeable to reason Reason is the capacity of consciously applying logic Logic is an interdisciplinary field which studies truth and reasoning Reaso ...

rationality
and the development of
science Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is something that is truth, true. The usual test for a statement of ...

science
as a substitute for
superstition A superstition is any belief or practice considered by non-practitioners to be irrational or supernatural, attributed to fate or magic (supernatural), magic, perceived supernatural influence, or fear of that which is unknown. It is commonly ap ...
Max Weber Maximilian Karl Emil Weber (; ; 21 April 186414 June 1920) was a German Sociology, sociologist, historian, jurist, and political economy, political economist regarded as among the most important theorists of the development of Modernity, modern ...

Max Weber
called this process the "disenchantment of the world"—and to the changes made by religious institutions to compensate. At the most basic stages, this begins with a slow transition from
oral tradition Oral tradition, or oral lore, is a form of human communication Human communication, or anthroposemiotics, is the field dedicated to understanding how human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of prima ...
s to a writing culture that diffuses knowledge. This first reduces the authority of clerics as the custodians of revealed knowledge. The shift of responsibility for
education Education is the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, value (ethics), values, morals, beliefs, habits, and personal development. Educational methods include teaching, training, storytelling, discussion ...

education
from the family and community to the
state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, Un ...
has had two consequences: * ''Collective conscience'' as defined by Durkheim is diminished; * Religion becomes a matter of individual choice rather than an observed social obligation. A major issue in the study of secularization is the extent to which certain trends such as decreased attendance at places of worship indicate a decrease in religiosity or simply a privatization of religious belief, where religious beliefs no longer play a dominant role in public life or in other aspects of decision making.


Definitions

C. John Sommerville (1998) outlined six uses of the term secularization in the scientific literature. The first five are more along the lines of 'definitions' while the sixth is more of a 'clarification of use': # When discussing macro social structures, secularization can refer to ''differentiation'': a process in which the various aspects of society, economic, political, legal, and moral, become increasingly specialized and distinct from one another. # When discussing individual institutions, secularization can denote the transformation of a religion into a secular institution. Examples would be the evolution of institutions such as
Harvard University Harvard University is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an absence of nearly t ...

Harvard University
from a predominantly religious institution into a secular institution (with a divinity school now housing the religious element illustrating differentiation). # When discussing activities, secularization refers to the transfer of activities from religious to secular institutions, such as a shift in the provision of social services from churches to the government. # When discussing mentalities, secularization refers to the transition from ''ultimate'' concerns to ''proximate'' concerns. E.g., individuals in the West are now more likely to moderate their behavior in response to more immediately applicable consequences rather than out of concern for ''post-mortem'' consequences. This is a personal religious decline or movement toward a secular lifestyle. # When discussing populations, secularization refers to broad patterns of societal decline in levels of religiosity as opposed to the individual-level secularization of (4) above. This understanding of secularization is also distinct from (1) above in that it refers specifically to religious decline rather than societal differentiation. # When discussing religion, secularization can only be used unambiguously to refer to religion in a generic sense. For example, a reference to Christianity is not clear unless one specifies exactly which denominations of Christianity are being discussed.
Abdel Wahab Elmessiri Abdel-Wahab El-Messiri ( ar, عبد الوهاب المسيري, 1938-July 2, 2008) was an Egyptian scholarly method, scholar, author and general coordinator of the opposition organization Kefaya. Life El-Messiri was born in Damanhur, Egypt, gra ...
(2002) outlined two meanings of the term secularization: # Partial Secularization: which is the common meaning of the word, and expresses "The separation between religion and state". # Complete Secularization: this definition is not limited to the partial definition, but exceeds it to "The separation between all (religion, moral, and human) values, and (not just the state) but also to (the human nature in its public and private sides), so that the holiness is removed from the world, and this world is transformed into a usable matter that can be employed for the sake of the strong".


Sociological use and differentiation

As studied by sociologists, one of the major themes of secularization is that of "differentiation"—i.e., the tendency for areas of life to become more distinct and specialized as a society becomes modernized. European sociology, influenced by
anthropology Anthropology is the scientific study of human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, ...
, was interested in the process of change from the so-called primitive societies to increasingly advanced societies. In the United States, the emphasis was initially on change as an aspect of progress, but
Talcott Parsons Talcott Parsons (13 December 1902 – 8 May 1979) was an American sociologist of the classical tradition The Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town in the US *Western Creek, ...

Talcott Parsons
refocused on society as a system immersed in a constant process of increased differentiation, which he saw as a process in which new institutions take over the tasks necessary in a society to guarantee its survival as the original monolithic institutions break up. This is a devolution from single, less differentiated institutions to an increasingly differentiated subset of institutions. Following Parsons, this concept of differentiation has been widely applied. As phrased by José Casanova, this "core and the central thesis of the theory of secularization is the conceptualization of the process of societal modernization as a process of functional differentiation and emancipation of the secular spheres—primarily the state, the economy, and science—from the religious sphere and the concomitant differentiation and specialization of religion within its own newly found religious sphere". Casanova also describes this as the theory of "privatization" of religion, which he partially criticizes. While criticizing certain aspects of the traditional sociological theory of secularization, however, David Martin argues that the concept of social differentiation has been its "most useful element".


Current issues in secularization

At present, secularization as understood in the West is being debated in the
sociology of religion Sociology of religion is the study of the beliefs, practices and organizational forms of religion using the tools and methods of the discipline of sociology. This objective investigation may include the use both of Quantitative research, quanti ...
. In his works ''Legitimacy of the Modern Age'' (1966) and ''The Genesis of the Copernican World'' (1975),
Hans BlumenbergHans Blumenberg (born 13 July 1920, Lübeck Lübeck ( , ; Low German also ; da, Lybæk ), officially the Hanseatic City of Lübeck (german: Hansestadt Lübeck), is a city in Northern Germany. With around 217,000 inhabitants, Lübeck is the secon ...
has rejected the idea of a historical continuity – fundamental to the so-called 'theorem of secularization'; the
Modern age Human history, or world history, is the narrative of humanity Humanity most commonly refers to: * Human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipedality, opposable thumbs, ...
in his view represents an independent epoch opposed to Antiquity and the
Middle Ages In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe since the beginning of ...
by a rehabilitation of human curiosity in reaction to theological absolutism. "Blumenberg targets Löwith's argument that progress is the secularization of
Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as one of the spoken languages of the Israelites and their longest-survivi ...

Hebrew
and
Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus Christ. The words ''Christ (title), Christ'' and ''Christian'' derive from the Koi ...

Christian
beliefs and argues to the contrary that the modern age, including its belief in progress, grew out of a new secular self-affirmation of culture against the
Christian tradition Christian tradition is a collection of tradition A tradition is a belief A belief is an Attitude (psychology), attitude that something is the case, or that some proposition about the world is truth, true. In epistemology, philosophers use th ...
."
Wolfhart Pannenberg Wolfhart Pannenberg (2 October 1928 – 4 September 2014) was a German Lutheran Lutheranism is one of the largest branches of Protestantism that identifies with the teachings of Martin Luther, a 16th-century German Protestant Reformers, ...

Wolfhart Pannenberg
, a student of Löwith, has continued the debate against Blumenberg.
Charles Taylor
Charles Taylor
in "A Secular Age" challenges what he calls 'the subtraction thesis' – that science leads to religion being subtracted from more and more areas of life. Proponents of "secularization theory" demonstrate widespread declines in the prevalence of religious belief throughout the West, particularly in Europe. Some scholars (e.g., 
Rodney Stark Rodney William Stark (born 1934) is an American sociologist of religion who was a longtime professor of sociology and of comparative religion Comparative religion is the branch of the study of religions concerned with the systematic compariso ...
, Peter Berger) have argued that levels of religiosity are not declining, while other scholars (e.g., Mark Chaves, N. J. Demerath) have countered by introducing the idea of neo-secularization, which broadens the definition of secularization to include the decline of religious authority and its ability to influence society. In other words, rather than using the proportion of irreligious apostates as the sole measure of secularity, neo-secularization argues that individuals increasingly look outside of religion for authoritative positions. Neo-secularizationists would argue that religion has diminishing authority on issues such as
birth control Birth control, also known as contraception, anticonception, and fertility control, is a method or device used to prevent pregnancy Pregnancy, also known as gestation, is the time during which one or more offspring develops inside a woma ...
, and argue that religion's authority is declining and secularization is taking place even if religious affiliation may not be declining in the United States (a debate still taking place). Finally, some claim that demographic forces offset the process of secularization, and may do so to such an extent that individuals can consistently drift away from religion even as society becomes more religious. This is especially the case in societies like
Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵל, translit=Yīsrāʾēl; ar, إِسْرَائِيل, translit=ʾIsrāʾīl), officially the State of Israel ( he, מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, label=none, translit=Medīnat Yīsrāʾēl; ), is a ...

Israel
(with the
ultra-Orthodox Haredi Judaism ( he, חֲרֵדִי ', ; also spelled ''Charedi'', plural ''Haredim'' or ''Charedim'') consists of groups within Orthodox Judaism Orthodox Judaism is the collective term for the traditionalist branches of contemporary Judaism. ...
and religious
Zionist was the founder of the Modern Zionist movement. In his 1896 pamphlet ''Der Judenstaat ''Der Judenstaat'' ( German, literally ''The Jews' State'', commonly rendered as ''The Jewish State'') is a pamphlet written by Theodor Herzl and publishe ...
s) where committed religious groups have several times the birth rate of seculars. The religious fertility effect operates to a greater or lesser extent in all countries, and is amplified in the West by religious immigration. For instance, even as native whites became more secular,
London London is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller lowerc ...

London
, England, has become more religious in the past 25 years as religious immigrants and their descendants have increased their share of the population. Across the board, the question of secularization has generated considerable (and occasionally heated) debates in the social sciences.


Regional developments


United States

1870–1930. Christian Smith examined the secularization of American public life between 1870 and 1930. He noted that in 1870 a Protestant establishment thoroughly dominated American culture and its public institutions. By the turn of the 20th century, however,
positivism Positivism is a philosophical theory A philosophical theory or philosophical position''Dictionary of Theories'', Jennifer Bothamley is a view that attempts to explain or account for a particular problem in philosophy Philosophy (from ...
had displaced the
Baconian method The Baconian method is the investigative method developed by Sir Francis Bacon, one of the founders of modern science, and thus a first formulation of a modern scientific method The scientific method is an Empirical evidence, empirical method o ...
(which had hitherto bolstered
natural theology Natural theology, once also termed physico-theology, is a type of theology Theology is the systematic study of the nature of the divine Divinity or the divine are things that are either related to, devoted to, or proceeding from a deity.
) and higher education had been thoroughly secularized. In the 1910s "legal realism" gained prominence, de-emphasizing the religious basis for
law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is described by its bounda ...
. That same decade publishing houses emerged that were independent of the Protestant establishment. During the 1920s secularization extended into popular culture and mass public education ceased to be under Protestant cultural influence. Although the general public was still highly religious during this time period, by 1930 the old Protestant establishment was in "shambles". Key to understanding the secularization, Smith argues, was the rise of an elite intellectual class skeptical of religious orthodoxies and influenced by the European
Enlightenment Enlightenment, enlighten or enlightened may refer to: Age of Enlightenment * Age of Enlightenment, period in Western intellectual history from the late 17th to late 18th century, centered in France but also encompassing: ** Midlands Enlightenment ...
tradition. They consciously sought to displace a Protestant establishment they saw as standing in their way. 2000–2021. Annual Gallup polls from 2008 through 2015 showed that the fraction of American who did not identify with any particular religion steadily rose from 14.6% in 2008 to 19.6% in 2015. At the same time, the fraction of Americans identifying as
Christians Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic, Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of Jesus, teachings of ...
sank from 80.1% to 69% in 2021. In December 2021 ~21% of Americans declared no religious identity or preference. Given that non-Christian religions stayed roughly the same (at about 5-7% from 2008 to 2021) secularization thus seems to have affected primarily Christians.


Britain


History

In Britain, secularization came much later than in most of Western Europe. It began in the 1960s as part of a much larger social and cultural revolution. Until then the postwar years had seen a revival of religiosity in Britain. Sociologists and historians have engaged in vigorous debates over when it started, how fast it happened, and what caused it. Sponsorship by royalty, aristocracy, and influential local gentry provided an important support system for organized religion. The sponsorship faded away in the 20th century, as the local élites were no longer so powerful or so financially able to subsidize their favorite activities. In coal-mining districts, local collieries typically funded local chapels, but that ended as the industry grew distressed and the unionized miners rejected élite interference in their local affairs. This allowed secularizing forces to gain strength.


Recent developments

Data from the annual
British Social Attitudes survey The British Social Attitudes Survey (BSA) is an annual statistical survey Survey methodology is "the study of survey methods". As a field of applied statistics concentrating on Survey (human research), human-research surveys, survey methodology s ...
and the biennial
European Social Survey The European Social Survey (ESS) is a social scientific endeavour to map the attitudes, beliefs and behaviour patterns of the various populations in Europe. ESS is listed in the Registry of Research Data Repositories The Registry of Research Data ...
suggest that the proportion of Britons who identify as Christian fell from 55% (in 1983) to 43% (in 2015). While members of non-Christian religions – principally Muslims and Hindus – quadrupled, the non-religious ("nones") now make up 53% of the British population. More than six in 10 “nones” were brought up as Christians, mainly Anglican or Catholic. Only 2% of “nones” were raised in religions other than Christian. People who were brought up to practice a religion, but who now identify as having no religion, so-called "non-verts", had different "non-version" rates, namely 14% for Jews, 10% for Muslims and Sikhs, and 6% for Hindus. The proportions of the non-religious who convert to a faith are small: 3% now identify as Anglicans, less than 0.5% convert to Catholicism, 2% join other Christian denominations, and 2% convert to non-Christian faiths.


Spain

Spain used to be one of the most religious countries in Europe, but secularization has progressed fast during the past few decades. This was partly due to the
anti-clericalism Anti-clericalism is opposition to religious authority Theocracy is a form of government in which a deity A deity or god is a supernatural being considered divinity, divine or sacred. The ''Oxford Dictionary of English'' defines deity as "a G ...
that was one of the roots of the
Spanish civil war The Spanish Civil War ( es, Guerra Civil Española)) or The Revolution ( es, La Revolución) among Nationalists, the Fourth Carlist War ( es, Cuarta Guerra Carlista) among Carlism, Carlists, and The Rebellion ( es, La Rebelión) or Uprising ( ...

Spanish civil war
. Notably, the dictatorship of
Francisco Franco Francisco Franco Bahamonde (; 4 December 1892 – 20 November 1975) was a Spanish general who led the Nationalist forces in overthrowing the Second Spanish Republic The Spanish Republic ( es, link=no, República Española), commonly ...

Francisco Franco
embraced “national Catholicism”. However, agreements linked to the constitution of 1978 separated church and state. In 2001, 82% of Spaniards identified as Catholic but only half did in 2021. Only around 20% of Spaniards go to mass regularly and only 20% of weddings are taking place in a church (2019). Similarly,
divorce Divorce (also known as dissolution of marriage) is the optional process of terminating a marriage in Stockholm Marriage, also called matrimony or wedlock is a culturally and often legally recognized union between people calle ...

divorce
was legalized in 1981, as was
abortion Abortion is the ending of a pregnancy Pregnancy, also known as gestation, is the time during which one or more offspring In biology, offspring are the young born of living organism, organisms, produced either by a single organism ...

abortion
and
gay marriage Same-sex marriage, also known as gay marriage, is the marriage in Stockholm Marriage, also called matrimony or wedlock, is a culturally recognised union between people, called spouses, that establishes rights and obligations betw ...
soon after.


Asia


India

India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi Hindi (Devanagari: , हिंदी, ISO 15919, ISO: ), or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi (Devanagari: , ISO 15919, ISO: ), is an Indo-Aryan language spoken chiefly in Hindi Belt, ...

India
, post-independence, has seen the emergence of an assertive secular state.
Hinduism Hinduism () is an Indian religion Indian religions, sometimes also termed Dharmic religions or Indic religions, are the religions that originated in the Indian subcontinent. These religions, which include Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, ...

Hinduism
, which is the dominant way of life in
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi Hindi (Devanagari: , हिंदी, ISO 15919, ISO: ), or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi (Devanagari: , ISO 15919, ISO: ), is an Indo-Aryan language spoken chiefly in Hindi Belt, ...

India
, has been described as a 'culture and civilisation of ancient origin' that is 'intrinsically secular'.


China

One traditional view of Chinese culture sees the teachings of
Confucianism Confucianism, also known as Ruism, is a system of thought and behavior originating in ancient China The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty (c. 1600–1046 BC ...
- influential over many centuries - as basically secular. Chang Pao-min summarises perceived historical consequences of very early secularization in China:
The early secularization of Chinese society, which must be recognized as a sign of modernity ..has ironically left China for centuries without a powerful and stable source of morality and law. All this simply means that the pursuit of wealth or power or simply the competition for survival can be and often has been ruthless without any sense of restraint. ..Along with the early secularization of Chinese society which was equally early, the concomitant demise of feudalism and hereditary aristocracy, another remarkable development, transformed China earlier than any other country into a unitary system politically, with one single power centre. It also rendered Chinese society much more egalitarian than Western Europe and Japan.
In this arguably secular setting, the
Chinese Communist Party The Chinese Communist Party (CCP), officially the Communist Party of China (CPC), is the founding and One-party state, sole ruling party of the China, People's Republic of China (PRC). The CCP leads List of political parties in China, eight other ...
régime of the
People's Republic of China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere ...

People's Republic of China
(in power on the Chinese mainland from 1949) promoted deliberate secularization. See for example:


Arab world

Many countries in the Arab world show signs of increasing secularization. For instance, in
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identi ...

Egypt
, support for imposing
sharia Sharia (; ar, شريعة, sharīʿa ) is a religious law Religious law includes ethical Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy that "involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong action ...
(Islamic law) fell from 84% in 2011 to 34% in 2016. Egyptians also pray less: among older Egyptians (55+) 90% prayed daily in 2011. Among the younger generation (age 18–24) that fraction was only 70%. By contrast, in 2016 these numbers had fallen to <80% (55+) and <40% (18–24). The other age groups were in between these values. In
Lebanon Lebanon ( , ar, لُبْنَان, translit=lubnān, ), officially the Republic of Lebanon or the Lebanese Republic, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part ...

Lebanon
and
Morocco ) , image_map = Morocco (orthographic projection, WS claimed).svg , map_caption = Location of Morocco in northwest Africa.Dark green: Undisputed territory of Morocco.Lighter green: Western Sahara, a United Nations lis ...

Morocco
, the number of people listening to daily recitals of the Quran fell by half from 2011 to 2016. Some of these developments seem to be driven by need, e.g. by stagnating incomes which force women to contribute to household income and therefore to work. High living costs delay marriage and, as a consequence, seem to encourage pre-marital sex. However, in other countries, such as
Jordan Jordan ( ar, الأردن; tr. ' ), officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan,; tr. ') is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger region In ge ...

Jordan
and
Palestine Palestine ( or ) most often refers to: * State of Palestine, a ''de jure'' sovereign state in the Middle East * Palestine (region), a geographical and historical region in the Middle East Palestine may also refer to: * Palestinian National Aut ...
, support for sharia and Islamist ideas seems to grow. Even in countries in which secularization is growing, there are backlashes. For instance, the president of Egypt, , has banned hundreds of newspapers and websites who may provoke opposition.


See also

* Death of God theology * Desecularization * The Enlightenment * Mexican secularization act of 1833 * Theories of religion#Rational choice theory, Rational choice theory of religion * Secularity * Secular state * Secularism * Separation of church and state * Sociology of religion * State religion * Theory of religious economy * Postsecularism


References


Further reading

* Berger, Peter. ''The Sacred Canopy''. (1967) * Berger, Peter. ''The Desecularization of the World''. (1999) * Brown, Callum G. ''The Death of Christian Britain: Understanding Secularisation, 1800-2000'' (2009). * Bruce, Steve, and Tony Glendinning, "When was secularization? Dating the decline of the British churches and locating its cause" ''British journal of sociology'' 61#1 (2010): 107-126. * Bruce, Steve. ''Religion in the Modern World: From Cathedrals to Cults'' * Bruce, Steve. ''God is Dead: Secularization in the West''. (2002) * Casanova, Jose. ''Public Religions in the Modern World.'' (1994) * Chaves, M. ''Secularization As Declining Religious Authority''. Social Forces 72(3):749–74. (1994) * Ellul, Jacques. ''The New Demons.'' (1973/tr. 1975) * Gauchet, Marcel. ''The Disenchantment of the World.'' (1985/tr. 1997) * Gilbert, Alan D. ''The making of post-Christian Britain: a history of the secularization of modern society'' (Longman, 1980). * Ronald F. Inglehart, Inglehart, Ronald F., "Giving Up on God: The Global Decline of Religion", ''Foreign Affairs'', vol. 99, no. 5 (September / October 2020), pp. 110–118. * Martin, David. ''A General Theory of Secularization''. (New York: Harper & Row, 1979). * Pollack, Detlef
Varieties of Secularization Theories and Their Indispensable Core
''The Germanic Review: Literature, Culture, Theory'', 90:1 (2015), 60-79. * Pollack, Detlef & Gergely Rosta. ''Religion and Modernity: An International Comparison''. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017. * Sommerville, C. J. "Secular Society Religious Population: Our Tacit Rules for Using the Term Secularization''. ''Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion'' 37#2 :249–53. (1998) * Said, E. ''Orientalism: Western Conceptions of the Orient''. London: Penguin. (1978). * Skolnik, Jonathan and Peter Eli Gordon, eds., ''New German Critique'' 94 (2005) Special Issue on Secularization and Disenchantment * Stark, Rodney, Laurence R. Iannaccone, Monica Turci, and Marco Zecchi. "How Much Has Europe Been Secularized?" ''Inchiesta'' 32 #136 pp:99–112. (2002) * Stark, Rodney. ''Triumph of Faith: Why the World Is More Religious than Ever''. Wilmington: ISI Books. (2015) * Taylor, Charles. ''A Secular Age''. (Harvard University Press, 2007) * Warrier, Maya. "Processes of Secularisation in Contemporary India: Guru Faith in the Mata Amritanandamayi Mission," ''Modern Asian Studies ''(2003)


External links


Definition of Secularization at Garethjmsaunders.co.uk

Secularization Theory: The Course of a Concept
{{authority control Cultural studies Disengagement from religion Political philosophy Religion and politics Secularism Sociology of religion