Predicting Religion: Christian, Secular and Alternative Futures

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Religion in the contemporary west is undergoing rapid change. In Predicting Religion twenty experts in the study of religion present their predictions about the future of religion in the 21st century - predictions based on careful analysis of the contemporary religious scene from traditional forms of Christianity to new spiritualities. The range of predictions is broad. A number predict further secularization - with religion in the west seen as being in a state of terminal decline. Others question this approach and suggest that we are witnessing not decline but transformation understood in different ways: a shift from theism to pantheism, from outer to inner authority, from God to self-as-god, and above all from religion to spirituality.

This accessible book on the contemporary religious scene offers students and scholars of the sociology of religion and theology, as well as interested general readers, fresh insights into the future of religion and spirituality in the west.

Published in association with the British Sociological Association Study of Religion group, in the Ashgate Religion and Theology in Interdisciplinary Perspective series.

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Table of Contents

List of Contributors
Introduction 1
1 Beyond European and American Exceptionalisms: towards a Global Perspective 17
2 On Secularization and its Prediction: a Self-examination 30
3 The Evolutionary Principle in the Study of Religion and Society 40
4 The Demise of Christianity in Britain 53
5 Prediction and Prophecy in the Future of Religion 64
6 Social Networks and Religious Identity: An Historical Example from Wales 74
7 Social Networks and Personal Beliefs: An Example from Modern Britain 86
8 A Place at High Table? Assessing the Future of Charismatic Christianity 95
9 The Decline of the Church in England as a Local Membership Organization: Predicting the Nature of Civil Society in 2050 109
10 After Secularism: British Government and the Inner Cities 120
11 The Self as the Basis of Religious Faith: Spirituality of Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Christians 135
12 The Quakers: towards an Alternate Ordering 147
13 Understanding the Spirituality of People who Do Not Go to Church 159
14 'Witchcraft will not soon Vanish from this Earth': Wicca in the 21st Century 170
15 Alexis de Tocqueville, Pantheism and the Religion of Democracy 183
16 Religion on - Religion in Cyberspace 191
17 The Paranormal in Swedish Religiosity 203
18 Are the Stars Coming out? Secularization and the Future of Astrology in the West 214
19 An Ageing New Age? 229
Index 248
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