Secularization, R.I.P. - California State University, Long Beach

Secularization, R.I.P.
Author(s): Rodney Stark
Source: Sociology of Religion, Vol. 60, No. 3 (Autumn, 1999), pp. 249-273
Published by: Oxford University Press
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1999,60:3249-273
Sociology
ofReligion
R.l.P.
Secularization,
Stark*
Rodney
University
ofWashington
From
thebeginning,
thesis
thefactthat
socialscientists
havecelebrated
thesecularization
despite
itnever
wasconsistent
with
outthat
empirical
reality.
Morethan150years
agoTocqueville
pointed
lackofaccord
'thefacts
with
andthis
hasgrown
accord
bynomeans
theory,"
[thesecularization]
far
worsesincethen.Indeed,
thatsecularization
hasbeen
theonlyshred
ofcredibility
forthenotion
oncontrasts
nowanda bygone
taking
placehasdepended
between
AgeofFaith.In thisessayI
assemble
theworkofmanyrecent
thattheAgeofFaithis pure
historians
whoareunanimous
- that
nostalgia
inmedieval
lackofreligious
participation
was,ifanything,
evenmore
widespread
times
than
now.Next,I demonstrate
that
there
havebeennorecent
inChristendomn
religious
changes
thatareconsistent
withthesecularization
- notevenamongscientists.
I alsoexpand
thesis
assessment
ofthesecularization
doctrine
tonon-Christian
that
noteventhehighly
societies
showing
in Asia haveshowntheslightest
magical"folk
in response
religions"
declines
to quiterapid
modernization.
Finalwords
areoffered
as secularization
islaidtorest.
Fornearly
threecenturies,
socialscientists
andassorted
western
intellectuals
havebeenpromising
theendofreligion.
Eachgeneration
hasbeenconfident
thatwithin
fewdecades,
another
orpossibly
a bitlonger,
humans
will"outgrow"
beliefin the supernatural.
This proposition
sooncameto be knownas the
secularization
and itsearliest
thesis,
proponents
seemto havebeenBritish,
as
theRestoration
in 1660led to an eraduring
whichmilitant
attackson faith
werequitepopularamongfashionable
Londoners
(DurantandDurant1965).
Thus,as faras I amabletodiscover,
itwasThomasWoolston
whofirst
seta date
bywhichtimemodernity
wouldhavetriumphed
overfaith.Writing
in about
1710,he expressed
his confidence
thatChristianity
wouldbe goneby 1900
(Woolston1733). Halfa century
laterFrederick
theGreatthought
thiswas
muchtoo pessimistic,
writing
to his friendVoltairethat"theEnglishman
Woolston.. . couldnotcalculatewhathas happened
quiterecently.
. . . It
[religion]
is crumbling
of itself,
and itsfallwillbe butthemorerapid'(in
Redman1949:26). In response,
Voltaire
ventured
hisguessthattheendwould
comewithin
thenext50 years.
Subsequently,
notevenwidespread
pressreports
concerning
thesecond"GreatAwakening"
coulddeterThomasJefferson
from
* I uouldliketothank
Andrew
Greeley,
wigt
whom
I havelongbeenexchanging
citations
onthenonexistence
ofan
AgeofFaithinEuropean
history.
Direct
toRodney
Stark,
ofSociology
correspndence
(Box353340),
Deparunent
University
ofWashington,
Seattle,
WA98196.
249
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250
SOCIOLOGYOF RELIGION
predicting
in 1822that"thereis nota youngmannowlivingin theUnited
a generation
(Healy1984:373). Ofcourse,
Stateswhowillnotdiea Unitarian"
conandBaptists
later,Unitarians
wereas scarceas ever,whiletheMethodists
ratesofgrowth
(FinkeandStark1992).
tinued
theirspectacular
butthey
ofsecularization
havebeenno lesscertain,
Subsequent
prophets
havebeensomewhat
morecircumspect
as to dates.Thus,justas Jefferson's
of
that,as a result
Auguste
Comteannounced
prophesy
failed,backin France,
the"theological
stage"ofsocial
wasoutgrowing
modernization,
humansociety
would
in whichthescienceofsociology
evolution
anda newagewasdawning
But,Comtedidnotsayexactly
replacereligion
as thebasisformoraljudgments.
fashion,
as oftenas Frederich
whenall thiswouldbe accomplished.
In similar
wouldcause religionto
Engelsgloatedabouthow the socialistrevolution
he wouldonlysaythatitwouldhappen"soon."In 1878MaxMuller
evaporate,
that:
(p. 218)complained
themostwidely
readjournals
seemjust
month,
every
quarter,
Every
day,every
week,every
is past,thatfaithis a
nowto vie witheachotherin tellingus thatthetimeforreligion
outandexploded.
disease,
thatthegodshaveatlastbeenfound
hallucination
oraninfantile
(1905:8) reported
that"the
century,
A. E. Crawley
Atthestart
ofthetwentieth
froma
gaininggroundthatreligionis a meresurvival
opinionis everywhere
. .. age,anditsextinction
oftime."Severalyearslater,
onlya matter
primitive
wouldcausethe"disenchantwhymodernization
whenMaxWeberexplained
thatthis
hisdisciples
andwhenSigmund
Freudreassured
ment"oftheworld,
couch,theytoo
illusions
woulddie uponthetherapist's
greatest
ofall neurotic
than"soon."
wouldbeno morespecific
For
or "ongoing."
A generation
"soon"became"underway"
later,however,
F. C. Wallace(1966:264thedistinguished
Anthony
anthropologist
example,
that'the
of Americanundergraduates
265) explainedto tensof thousands
thatit
ofreligion
is extinction,"
and whilehe admitted
future
evolutionary
it
hundred
years"
to completetheprocess, alreadywas
mightrequire"several
hisillustrious
in theadvancednations.Andthroughout
wellunderway
career,
as "a longterm
secularization
BryanWilson(1982: 150-151)has described
in
inhumansociety'
outthat"theprocess
implicit
andpointed
process
occurring
of
condition
concedes
at oncetheideaofan earlier
theconcept
ofsecularization
orthatwasat leastmuchlesssecularthanthatofour
lifethatwasnotsecular,
owntimes."
Peter
to all of thisintellectual
Then in 1968,in contrast
pussy-footing,
thattheby"the21stcentury,
religious
Berger
(1968:3) toldtheNewYorkTirnes
to resist
a
arelikelyto be foundonlyin smallsects,huddled
believers
together
hisgiftformemorable
secularculture."
Berger
worldwide
imagery,
Unleashing
likethatofa Tibetan
ofthebelieveris increasingly
saidthat"thepredicament
In lightoftherecent
on a prolonged
visittoan American
university."
astrologer
oftheDalai LamabytheAmerican
mediaandhiscordialwelcome
lionization
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R.M.P. 251
SECULARIZATION,
to variouscampuses,Berger'ssimilenow admitsto rathera different
interpretation.In anyevent,whenhisprediction
had onlythreeyearsleftto run,Berger
gracefully
recantedhis beliefin secularization
(as I discussat the end of this
essay).I quotehis statements
duringthe 1960sonlybecausetheyso fullyexpress
themoodofthetimes,a moodthatI shared(cf.,Stark1963).
Noticefivethingsaboutall ofthesesecularization
prophesies.
is the causal engine
First,thereis universalagreement
thatmodernization
thegodsintoretirement.
That is,thesecularization
doctrinehas always
dragging
nestledwithinthe broadertheoretical
framework
of modernization
theories,it
being proposedthat as industrialization,
urbanization,and rationalization
increase,religiousness
mustdecrease(Hadden 1987;Finke1992). Keep in mind
thatmodernization
is a long,gradual,
constant
relatively
process.
Wars,revolutions,
and othercalamitiesmaycausean occasionalsuddenblipin thetrendlines,but
theoverallprocessis notvolatile.Ifsecularization
is theresultofmodernization
or,indeed,is one aspectofit,thensecularization
is notvolatileand,ratherthan
proceeding
bysuddenfitsand starts,
ittoo willdisplaya long-term,
gradual,and
relatively
constanttrendof religiousdecline,corresponding
to similarupward
trendsin suchaspectsofmodernization
as economicdevelopment,
urbanization,
and education.In termsof timeseriestrends,modernization
is a long,linear,
upwardcurve,and secularization
is assumedto tracethereciprocal
ofthiscurve,
to be a long,linear,downward
curve.Indeed,sincemodernization
isso advanced
in manynationsthat"postmodernism"
is thelatestbuzzword,
it mustbe assumed
thatsecularization
is at least"ongoing"to the extentthata significant
downwardtrendin religiousness
can be seen.
The secondthingto noticeaboutthe secularization
propheciesis thatthey
are notdirectedprimarily
towardinstitutional
differentiation
theydo not
merelypredictthe separationof churchand stateor a decline in the direct,
secularauthority
ofchurchleaders.Theirprimary
concernis withindividual
piety,
especiallybelief.Thus, Jefferson
predictedthe next generationwould find
Christianbeliefs,and especiallyfaithin the divinityofJesus,implausibleand
would limitthemselvesto the minimalistconceptionof God sustainedby
Unitarians.What mostconcernedEngelswerenot bishops,but the religious
"fantasies"
ofthe masses.Freudwroteaboutreligiousillusions,
notaboutchurch
taxes,and Wallace (1966: 265) assertedthat"beliefin supernatural
powersis
doomedto die out, all over the world"because,as BryanWilson (1975: 81)
explained,"The rationalstructure
ofsocietyitselfprecludesmuchindulgencein
supernaturalist
thinking."
This is verysignificantbecause in recentyearssecularizationhas been
definedin severalways (Hanson 1997; Tschannen 1991; Dobbelaere 1987;
Shiner1967) and, unfortunately,
thispermits
someproponents
ofthethesisto
shiftdefinitions
as needed in orderescape inconvenient
facts(cf.,Dobbelaere
1987, 1997; Lechner1991, 1996;Yamane1997). One definition,
oftenreferred
to as the macro version(cf., Lechner 1996), identifiessecularizationas de-
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252
SOCIOLOGY OF RELIGION
(Dobbelaere1987; Martin1978). This refersto a decline in
institutionalization
wherebyothersocial
religiousinstitutions
the social powerof once-dominant
have escapedfrom
institutions,
and
educational
political
especially
institutions,
domination.
priorreligious
If thiswereall thatsecularization
means,therewouldbe nothingto argue
Europe,forexample,Catholic
about.Everyonemustagreethat,in contemporary
and thesameis true
bishopshave lesspoliticalpowerthantheyonce possessed,
neverwerenearly
ofLutheranand Anglicanbishops(althoughbishopsprobably
aspectsof
so powerful
as theynoware thoughtto have been). Nor are primary
or ritual.These
rhetoric,
withreligioussymbols,
publiclifeany longersuffused
changes have, of course, aroused scholarly interest,resultingin some
distinguishedstudies(Casanova 1994; Martin 1978). But, the prophetsof
theorywerenot and are not merelywritingaboutsomethingso
secularization
obviousor limited.At issueis not a narrowpredictionconcerninga growing
separationof churchand state. Instead,as we have seen, fromthe startthe
have stressedpersonalpiety,and to the extentthat
prophetsof secularization
ithas been to claimthattheyareso linkedthata
theyexpressedmacrointerests
decline in one necessitatesa decline in the other.Thus, ifthe churcheslose
power,personalpietywill fade;ifpersonalpietyfades,the churcheswill lose
modernproponentof
power.Indeed,PeterBerger,longthe mostsophisticated
candidon thispoint.Havingoutlinedthe
thesecularization
thesis,wasentirely
Berger(1967: 107-108)noted:
macroaspectsofsecularization,
sideas well.As
ofsecularization
hasa subjective
itisimplied
herethattheprocess
Moreover,
ofconsciousness.
so thereis a secularization
ofsociety
andculture,
thereis a secularization
numberof
an increasing
thismeansthatthe modemWesthas produced
Put simply,
ofreligious
thebenefit
wholookupontheworldandtheirownliveswithout
individuals
interpretations.
his supportforthe
withdrew
As noted,recentlyBerger(1997) gracefully
work
notto emphasize
I citethispassagefromhisearlier
ofsecularization.
theory
withBerger,
whoseworkI alwayshave muchadmired,
mypreviousdisagreement
who
ofsecularization,
butas a contrastto the recenttacticbyotherproponents
that
of
evidence
mountain contrary
bypretending the
seekto evadethegrowing
and anytrendsin personalpiety
theorymerelypertainsto deinstitutionalization
evasionin hisarticle
Let menoteKarelDobbelaere'sbreathtaking
are irrelevant.
of individualsis nota valid indicatorin evalin this issue,"the religiousness
is not onlyhistorically
Such revisionism
uatingthe processof secularization."
false,it is insincere.Those who employit revertto celebratingthe demiseof
individualpietywhenevertheysee a fact that seems to be supportiveor
whenevertheybelieve theyare speakingto an audienceof fellowdevotees.
Thus, at a conferencein Rome in 1993, LillianeVoye and KarelDobbelaere
secularperspective
(1994: 95) explainedthatbecausescience is "a thoroughly
on the world"and has come to dominatethe educationalcurricula,thishas
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R.I.P.
SECULARIZATION,
253
in "desacrilizing
thecontent
resulted
oflearning
andtheworld-view
of
earlier
went
ontoclaim:
students."
Citing
essays
byDobbelaere,
they
thesuccessful
removal
byscience
ofallkinds
ofanthropomorphisms
from
ourthinking
have
thetraditional
of"Godasa person"
transformed
intoa belief
ina life-force,
a power
concept
ofspirit
andthishasalsogradually
andatheism
-which explains
promoted
agnosticism
the
long-term
declineofreligious
practices.
thesis
hasalways
Thatis precisely
whatthesecularization
Exactly!
been,and
iftrue,
would
VoyeandDobbelaere's
Woolston's
empirical
claims,
fully
satisfy
- albeit
prophesy
a bitlate.But,aswillbeseen,itisn'tso.Whatisso,isthat
inthereligiousness
a marked
decline
oftheindividual.
secularization
predicts
Thethird
notice
to
aboutthesecularization
thesis
isthat,
thing
in
implicit
inmost,
allversions
andexplicit
istheclaim
thatofallaspects
ofmodernization,
itisscience
thathasthemost
deadly
forreligion.
ForComteand
implications
it is sciencethatwillfreeusfrom
Wallace,as forVoyeandDobbelaere,
the
fetters
offaith.
Wilson
superstitious
Or,intheoddformulation
byBryan
(1968:
withtheimpact
ofscientific
86),"Christianity,
andsocialscientific
hindsights,
haslostgeneral
Ifthisisso,thenscientists
theological
plausibility."
ought
tobe
tobea relatively
expected
lot.But,aswillbeseen,scientists
irreligious
areabout
as religious
as anyone
else,andthepresumed
incompatibility
between
religion
andscience
seems
mythical.
Fourth,
secularization
isregarded
asanabsorbing
state- thatonceachieved
itis irreversible,
instilling
mystical
immunity.
However,
events
andtrends
in
eastern
andthenations
Europe
oftheformer
SovietUniondonotsupport
these
expectations.
Instead,
asAndrew
Greeley
(1994:272)soaptly
putit,after
more
than70 yearsofmilitant
efforts
bythestateto achievesecularization,
"St.
Vladimir
hasrouted
KarlMarx."
Fifth
andfinally,
whilemost
discussions
ofsecularization
focus
onChristendom,allleading
proponents
ofthethesis
apply
itglobally.
Thus,itisnotmerely
inChrist
belief
thatis"doomed
todieout,"but,as Wallaceexplained
inthe
passage
quotedabove,"belief
in supernatural
powers,"
andthisis goingto
happen"all overthe world."Hence,Allah is fatedto join Jehovahas only"an
interesting
historicalmemory."
However,no one has botheredto explainthisto
as willbe seen.
Muslims,
Now forspecifics.
THE MYTH OF RELIGIOUS DECLINE
Manyscholarsappearto believethatifratesofindividual
religious
beliefand
participation
formostnationsof northern
and westernEuropeweregraphed,
theywouldbe reciprocalto the trendsin modernization.
Beginningwithhigh
levels of faithand practiceat the end of the eighteenthcentury,the master
trendsare assumedto have been ever downward,culminatingin verylow
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254
SOCIOLOGYOF RELIGION
as butinsignificant
Andthelatterareregarded
levelsofreligiousness.
current
too(Wilson1966,1982;Bruce1995;Lechner1991,
soontodisappear
residuals,
to notea steep
oftheseclaims,wearedirected
1996).Forevidencein support
in muchof Europeand to inferfromthisan
declinein churchattendance
is low
thatparticipation
faithas well,on the grounds
erosionof individual
Theseviewsare
attendance.
neededto motivate
becauseofa lackofthebeliefs
inallrespects.
wrong
thesecutoreject
sociologist
contemporary
( 1965)wasthefirst
DavidMartin
be
thattheconceptofsecularization
evenproposing
thesisoutright,
larization
only
thatithadserved
on thegrounds
discourse
socialscientific
from
eliminated
andbecausethere
functions
thantheoretical,
rather
andpolemical,
ideological
pera religious
from
"shift
orconsistent
ofanygeneral
wasnoevidenceinfavor
as
(Martin1991:465). And,astounding
period"
toa secular
iodinhumanaffairs
from
withplainfacts
thesishasbeeninconsistent
it mayseem,thesecularization
secularization
of
the
havingnotedthepopularity
theverystart.Forexample,
Alexisde Tocquevillethen
doctrine
philosophers,
amongeighteenth-century
commented:
populations
arecertain
There
their
theory.
with
accord
thefacts
bynomeans
Unfortunately,
whilein
anddebasement;
bytheirignorance
is onlyequalled
whoseunbelief
inEurope
with
fulfill
thepeople
intheworld,
nations
enlightened
andmost
oneofthefreest
America,
1956:319).
ofreligion
([18401
duties
alltheoutward
fervor
not
madethoseobservations,
In themorethan150yearssinceTocqueville
notgone intodecline,the rateof church
onlyhas Americanreligiousness
than
trebled
(FinkeandStark1992),whileother
more
has
actually
membership
1989).
(Greeley
orhaverisenmodestly
haveheldsteady
ofcommitment
indices
chala devastating
to offer
casecontinues
theAmerican
although
Moreover,
been
has
there
itfailsinEuropetoo.First,
doctrine,
lengetothesecularization
Granted,
participation!
religious
declinein European
long-term
no demonstrable
to profound
timeto timein response
has variedfrom
probably
participation
butthefarmoreimportant
suchas warsand revolutions,
socialdislocations
Europe
andwestern
wasverylowinnorthern
participation
pointisthatreligious
theonsetofmodernization.
before
centuries
many
ofEuropeisthat
Thesecondreasonto rejectclaimsaboutthesecularization
Levels
of
atheism."
of
an
"scientific
of
age
datado notrevealthearrival
current
secularized
a nationas highly
high- to classify
remain
religiousness
subjective
Indeed,the
believeinGod isabsurd.
ofitsinhabitants
whenthelargemajority
inEuropeis,as GraceDavie(1990b:395) put
aboutreligion
question
important
in believing
believe,butwhydo they"persist
it,notwhydo peopleno longer
in theirreligious
regularity
withevenminimal
butsee no needto participate
claimsaboutthesecularOf thesetwomajorbasesforrejecting
institutions?"
wasneververyhighin
participation
izationofEurope,theclaimthatreligious
as dubious.
mostreaders
Europeistheonethatmuststrike
andwestern
northern
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R.I.P.
SECULARIZATION,
255
THE MYTHOF PASTPIETY
thatonceupona timetheworldwaspious- thatin
Everyone
"knows"
levelsofreligious
oldendaysmostpeopleexhibited
andconcernthat
practice
socialsubcultures
suchas theAmish,
todaylinger
onlyinisolated
ultra-orthodox
fundamentalists.
orMuslim
Jews,
But,likeso manyonce-upon-a-time
tales,this
historians
conceptionof a piouspastis merenostalgia;mostprominent
of
medievalreligion
nowagreethatthereneverwasan "AgeofFaith"(Morris
1993;Duffy
1992;Sommerville
1992;Bossy1985;Obelkevich1979;Murray
1972;Thomas1971; Coulton1938). Writingin the eleventhcentury,
the
EnglishmonkWilliamofMalmesbury
thatthearistocracy
complained
rarely
attended
church
andeventhemorepiousamongthem"attended"
massathome,
inbed:
Theydidn'tgo tochurchinthemornings
ina Christian
butintheirbedchambers,
fashion;
lyingin thearmsoftheirwives,theydidbuttastewiththeirearsthesolemnities
ofthe
morning
massrushed
ina hurry
through
bya priest
(inFletcher
1997:476).
As fortheordinary
people,during
themiddle
agesandduring
theRenaissance,
the massesrarelyentereda church,and theirprivateworship
wasdirected
towardan arrayof spiritsand supernatural
agencies,onlysomeof them
recognizably
Christian(Gentilecore
1992;Schneider1990;Delumeau1977;
Thomas1971).Alexander
assessment
ofmedieval
Murray's
Italianreligious
life
is typical:"substantial
sectionsofthirteenth-century
societyhardlyattended
churchat all."The Dominican
priorHumbert
ofRomansin hishandbook
On
theTeaching
ofPreachers,
Murray
notes,advised
hisfriars
that"reaching
thelaity
involves
catching
themat markets
andtournaments,
inships,andso on,"which
Murray
interprets
as "a fairenoughsignthattheywerenotto be caughtin
churches."
Indeed,Humbert
frankly
acknowledged
thatthemasses"rarely
go to
church,
and[whentheydo attend]
rarely
tosermons;
so theyknowlittleofwhat
pertains
to theirsalvation."
Finally,
Humbert
admitted
thattheregular
clergy
wereso involvedin gambling,
pleasure,
and "worsethings,"
thattheytoo
"scarcely
come to church."In similarterms,BlessedGiordanoof Rivalto
reported
that,uponarriving
in Florenceto preach,he suggested
to a local
womanthatshetakeherdaughter
to churchat leaston feastdays,onlyto be
informed
that"It is notthecustom"(Murray
1972:92-94).The anonymous
EnglishauthorofDivesandPauper([circa141011976:189) complained
that
"thepeoplethesedays.. . areloathtohearGod'sService.[Andwhentheymust
attend]
theycomelateandleaveearly.
Theywouldrather
gotoa tavern
thanto
HolyChurch."1
In about1430,St.Antonino
(in Coulton1938:192)wrote
that
1 Mytranslation
from
MiddleEnglish.
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256
SOCIOLOGYOF RELIGION
ofthemdo notconfess
many
seldomattendmassandthat"very
Tuscanpeasants
. . . Theyuse
once a year,and farfewerare thosewhotakecommunion.
andcaring
andfortheirbeasts. . beingignorant,
forthemselves
enchantments
know
they
which
commandments,
God's
keeping
for
or
souls
littlefortheirown
andevil
not."Antoninowenton to blamemostofthison "thecarelessness
priests."
oftheirparish
conscience
parish
ofsurviving
survey
an extensive
ofthesereports,
support
In further
in variouspartsofEuroperevealsthemto be too smallto haveheld
churches
(Brookeand Brooke1984).
of local inhabitants
morethana tinyfraction
agesthatthereevenweremorethana few
Indeed,itwasn'tuntilthelatemiddle
theprivate
towns(notcounting
outsideofthecitiesandlarger
parishchurches
lived
everyone
at a timewhennearly
forthelocalnobility),
chapelsmaintained
percenlarge
a
noted,
Duffy
Eamon
as
Moreover,
1993).
(Morris
areas
in rural
tageofwhatruralparishesdid existlackeda pastormuchofthe time.He
of
at least25 percent
forexample,
century,
thesixteenth
thatduring
estimated
of
in
Diocese
the
80
up
to
percent
and
intheDioceseofStrasbourg
theparishes
worse,even wheretherewas an
Genevahad no clergy.To makematters
visitation
1987:88). The bishop's
wasrife"(Duffy
"Absenteeism
pastor,
assigned
(Coulton1938:
during1520found58 absentees
inOxfordshire
of192parishes
Europe"Bishops
(1982: 139)notedthatinnorthern
156). Indeed,P.H. Sawyer
Indeed,manysuchdioceses
whonevervisitedtheirseeswerenotunknown."
toreside(Coulton1938).
anyobligation
without
weregiventopapalproteges
was lackingeven in the citiesis not very
participation
That religious
century,
whenwe realizethatgoingto churchin,say,thefifteenth
surprising
to heara service
building
theaveragepersonto standin an unheated
required
whomay
by
priests
Latin
in
incomprehensible
entirely
whichwasconducted
indeednothavebeenspeakingLatinat all, butmanyofwhomweresimply
the
Bede([73011955:340)advised
TheVenerable
nonsense
syllables.
mumbling
any
knew
and
monks
so
few
because
priests
English
that
future
bishopEgbert
Creedand
ofboththe[Apostle's]
translations
offered
Latin"I havefrequently
In 1222theCouncil
to manyunlearned
priests."
intoEnglish
theLord'sPrayer
the parishclergyas "dumbdogs"(Coulton1938: 157).
of Oxforddescribed
at leasttheLord's
to teachclergy
yearsafterBede'sefforts
Almosta thousand
anyof
WilliamTyndalenotedin 1530thathardly
hadchanged.
nothing
Prayer,
it
orcouldtranslate
andcuratesin EnglandknewtheLord'sPrayer
thepriests
Gloucester
of
whenin 1551 the Bishop
intoEnglish.This was confirmed
171couldnotrepeat
Of 311 pastors,
testedhisdiocesanclergy.
systematically
and 27 didnotknowtheauthoroftheLord'sPrayer
theTen Commandments
(Thomas1971: 164). Indeed,thenextyearBishopHooperfound"scoresof
or
whocouldnottellwhowastheauthoroftheLord'sPrayer,
parishclergy
St.Vincent
(Coulton1938:158).Acrossthechannel,
whereitwastobefound"
in 1617thathis localpriestknewno Latin,noteventhe
de Pauldiscovered
Giovanni
in 1547Archbishop
(Delumeau1977).Similarly,
words
ofabsolution
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SECULARIZATION,
R.I.P. 257
diocesein southern
Bovio,oftheBrindisi-Oria
Italy,foundthatmostofhis
Latin"(Gentilcore
priests
"couldbarelyreadand couldnotunderstand
1992:
42).
Clericalignorance
is notsurprising
whenwe recognize
that"therewere
andtherefore
noseminaries"
mostpriests
"learned
rubrics"
virtually
anda "smatto "a priestwhohadhimself
ofLatin"as an apprentice
tering
had littleorno
In thefifteenth
St.'Bernardino
ofSiena observed
training."
a priest
century,
"whoknewonlytheHail Mary,andusedit evenat theelevation
oftheMass"
(Duffy
1987:88). EamonDuffy
demonstrated
theignor(1992) has effectively
from
thecontents
anceoftheparishclergy
oftheveryfirst
forclergy
"primers"
in thefourteenth
thatbeganto be distributed
and fifteenth
centuries.
That
in thelocallanguage
mostofthemwritten
thanin Latinand
rather
booklets,
forthosewhoalready
prepared
wereserving
as clergy,
werelimited
to themost
elementary
andpractice forexample,
aspectsofdoctrine
simplelistsofthe
sacraments
and of the sinsthatshouldbe confessed
showsthatchurch
officials
mostserving
knewconsiderably
thought
lessthana modern
10clergy
year-old
school.
attending
parochial
Givensuchclericalignorance,
itisno wonder
thatthemasses
knewnextto
in terms
nothing
ofbasicChristian
culture.
The LateranCouncilof 1215,in
additionto requiring
all Catholicsto confess
andto takecommunion
at least
once a yearduringthe Easterseason,proposed
thata massivecampaign
of
elementary
religious
instruction
ofthelaitybe undertaken.
Thus,at theCouncil
of Lambethin 1281,theEnglishbishopsresponded
byadoptingtheaimof
thelaitytheLord'sPrayer,
teaching
Hail Mary,andtheApostle's
Creed.Later
thiswasexpandedto includetheTen Commandments,
theSevenWorksof
Mercy,
theSevenSacraments,
andtheSevenDeadlySins(Duffy
1992).Similar
planstocatechize
thelaitywereadoptedthroughout
Europe.Despitethesevery
modest
goals,itseemsunlikely
thatmanyofthelaity,
otherthanmembers
ofthe
educated
elite,evermastered
thesesimplelessons- sinceso manypriests
did
not.As ColinMorris(1993: 232) putit,"Ignorance
oftheformal
content
of
faithwasgeneral."
Morris
thenrecounted
an instanceofa villagepriestwho
to teachmanyinhiscongregation
managed
to recitethe"OurFather"
inLatin,
noting
thattheyhadnottheslightest
ideaofwhatit meant(possibly
thepriest
didn'teither).Otherexamples
comefrom
investigations
ofscoresofincidents
involving
religious
apparitions
(mostly
ofMary)inSpainduring
thefourteenth
andfifteenth
centuries.
Thesehearings
revealed
thatmostparishioners
reporting
suchvisionswereignorant
oftheTen Commandments
andtheSevenDeadly
Sins. It wasn'tmerely
thattheycouldnot recitethem,butthattheywere
entirely
ignorant
oftheircontents.
A typicalinstanceinvolveda manwho
claimedfrequent
visionsofMaryandwho,during
an interrogation
in 1518,was
askedifhe knewtheTen Commandments
andtheSevenDeadlySins."He said
hedidnotknowanyoftheseinwholeorinpart.. . . He wasaskedifpride
or
envyorlustorkilling
a manorinsulting
someone
withoffensive
words
wasa sin,
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258
SOCIOLOGYOF RELIGION
wasa sin,
thathedidnotknow.He wasaskediftheft
toeachofthesehereplied
1981:
greatsin"(inChristian
wasa very
us,theft
andhesaidthat,Godpreserve
154).
It mustbe notedtoo,thatevenwhenpeoplebackthendidgo to church
The
whilethere.
andbehavedveryinappropriately
didso unwillingly
theyoften
times"it
KeithThomasnotonlynotedthatin latemedieval
historian
eminent
at
[of
Britain]
population
of
the
sections
certain
as to whether
is problematical
ofthosewhodid[gotochurch]
at all,"but"thatmany
thistimehadanyreligion
peopledidshowup in
common
the
When
reluctance."
wentwithconsiderable
into
"astoturntheservice
theyso misbehaved
compulsion,
oftenunder
church,
before
to Thomas.Presentations
according
ofwhatwas intended"
a travesty
ofthe
how"Members
report
andscoresofclericalmemoirs
courts
ecclesiastical
andspat,knitted,
hawked
theirneighbours,
jostledforpews,nudged
population
guns."Church
off
let
even
and
asleep,
fell
jokes,
told
madecoarseremarks,
in
withmisbehaving
whowascharged
tellofa manin Cambridgeshire
records
speeches"
andscoffing
striking,
farting,
his"mostloathsome
in 1598after
church
ofthebad"
ofthegoodandthegreatrejoicing
in"thegreatoffence
hadresulted
fartsin churchtoday
(Thomas1971: 159-162).A manwhoissuedloathsome
in anyBritish
the
of
congregation
part
from
cheers
draw
not
would
surely
speeches.
withscoffing
hisefforts
evenifheaccompanied
church,
signofthetimeswasthatpeopleoftendidgatherregularly
An additional
The
activities.
unreligious
entirely
buttoconduct
churches,
within
andeagerly
ofhisdiocesebecause
theTuscanpeasants
denounced
ofFlorence
Archbishop
danceand leap and singwith
theysometimes
"in the churchesthemselves
therewasa
thecenturies
(in Coulton1938: 193). Indeed,through
women"
and,
towardlocalparishes,
directed
and threats
constantflowofcomplaints
them
using
to
cease
of
cathedrals,
in
those
charge
oftenenougheventoward
and forstorageof cropsand sheltering
forindoormarketplaces
primarily
livestock.For example,between1229 and 1367 in Englandalone therewere
. . . in churches"
againstholdingmarkets
elevenepiscopal"fulminat(tions)
(Coulton1938:189).
Italy,
Summingup his surveyof popularreligionin thirteenth-century
AlexanderMurray(1972: 83) disputed"thenotionofan Age ofFaith."Instead,
in a
[ofthatera]werenottypicalfigures
he pointedout (1972: 106), 'The friars
in a typicalage.Theirmendicantlife
freakish
figures
age,but,morally,
freakish
OVirgins
They werea smallminority:
was a lastingwonderto contemporaries.
Giordano."
arefew,'saidFra
arefew,preachers
arefew,martyrs
To be sure,therewereperiodicexplosionsof massreligiousenthusiasmin
theWaldensiansand
- including
medievaltimesas new sectarianmovements
However,as I
1992).
(Lambert
followings
the Albigensians attractedlarge
are not to be expectedwhereconvenhave clarifiedelsewhere,suchoutbursts
are strong,but onlywherereligiousapathyand
tional religiousorganizations
alienationare widespread(Stark 1996a, 1996b). That is, religiousrebellions
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R.I.P.
SECULARIZATION,
259
times
offer
additional
medieval
during
ofwidespread
testimony
against
images
inorganized
involvement
religion.
seems
AsEurope
outofmedieval
notto
passed
times,
religious
participation
- however,
onreligious
behavior
thestatistics
do.Someofthe
haveimproved
inthereports
written
bestofthese
canbefound
byvarious
Anglican
bishops
andarchbishops
visitation
totheir
following
Thusthe
lengthy
trips
parishes.
that30 parishes
Oxford
diocesanvisitations
in Oxfordshire
drewa
report
total
of911communicants
in1738,
based
onthefour
combined
"Great
Festivals"
- Easter,
andChristmas.
Thisturnout
amounted
tofar
Ascension,
Whitsun,
ofthetotalpopulation
ofthese
lessthanfivepercent
comparishes
taking
munion
a given
Other
visitation
lowrates
during
year.
reports
of
yield
similarly
incommunion
oftheeighteenth
overtheremainder
participation
century
etal. 1977).Indeed,
Laslett
(Currie
Peter
thatonly125of400
(1965)reported
adultsin a particular
tookEaster
communion
lateinthe
English
village
andwentontonote"much
eighteenth
inother
century
smaller
attendances"
villages.
Incredibly,
Laslett
usesthese
datatodemonstrate
theunanimity
offaith
inthisera- thetitleofhisbookis Theworld
wehavelosL2
Werethese
twentieth-century
statistics,
would
they
becitedroutinely
asproof
ofmassive
secularization.
Ifweuse1800as thebenchmark,
thenchurch
inBritain
membership
is
In 1800,
substantially
higher
today.
oftheBritish
only12percent
population
belonged
toa specific
religious
congregation.
Thisroseto17percent
in1850
- thesamepercentage
andthenstabilized
in 1990(Stark
belonged
and
lannaccone
1995).Inhisremarkable
reconstruction
ofreligious
participation
in
theBritish
communities
ofOldham
andSaddleworth,
Mark
Smith
(1996)found
there
hadbeennochange
between
1740and1865- a period
ofintensive
industrialization.
Aswillbe noted,
Laurence
lannaccone
(1996)hasreconstructed
a time
series
that
doesshow
a modest
decline
inchurch
attendance
in
Britain
during
thetwentieth
century.
Thisfinding
isoffset
bothbythelackof
similar
inmost
declines
other
European
nations,
aswellasbystudies
suggesting
recent
inchurch
increases
participation
inlower-class,
British,
urban
neighborhoods
which
hadlong
beennotable
for
their
very
lowrates
ofattendance
(G.
Smith
1996).The"market"
theory
ofreligiousness
developed
inmyearlier
publications
(Stark
1985,1998b;
Stark
andlannaccone
1993,1994;Finke
and
Stark
1988,
1992)iscompatible
with
religious
variation:
with
increases
aswellas
decreases
inreligiousness,
indeed
itsusual
prediction
isfor
relatively
stable
levels
ofreligious
commitment
in societies.In contrast,
thesecularization
thesisis
incompatible
with
either
stability
orincrease:
itrequires
a general,
long-trm
patternofreligious
decline.It makesno provision
forreports
suchas thatof
LaBras(1963)thatFrench
Gabriel
Catholics
today
participate
more
willingly
andfrequently,
with
far
greater
comprehension
ofwhat
they
aredoing,
than
was
2 He alsowrote
(p.7)that"Allourancestors
wereliteral
Christian
believers,
allofthetime."
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260
SOCIOLOGYOF RELIGION
ago.
thecase200years
The evidenceis clear thatclaimsabouta majordeclinein religious
ofpast
perceptions
inEuropearebasedinparton veryexaggerated
participation
butnotbecause
maybe lowtodayinmanynations,
Participation
religiousness.
But,what
thesisis irrelevant.
thesecularization
therefore
of modernization;
simplywere
theorists
about veryrecenttimes,maybethe secularization
(1996) has
lannaccone
Laurence
As mentioned,
intheirpredictions?
premature
ratesfor18
churchattendance
data to reconstruct
been able to use survey
in 1920.In 15 ofthe 18 nations
nations(mostofthemEuropean)beginning
Jannacconecould detect no trendseven vaguelyconsistentwith the
didhe
Slovenia,andGreatBritain
thesis:onlyin EastGermany,
secularization
for
as
support
claimed
be
possibly
could
that
observedownwardtrends
whilethe
havebeenreversed,
trendmayalready
andtheBritish
secularization,
declinesin Slovenia and East Germanybegan withthe impositionof
regimes.
Communist
dismayat "unhave longexpressed
Littlewonder,then,thathistorians
lostpiety,
of
Europe's
myth
the
to
for
clinging
sociologists"
minded
historically
that"notenoughjusticehasbeendoneto thevolumeofapathy,
complaining
thatexistedlongbeforetheonsetof industriheterodoxy,
and agnosticism
alization"
(Thomas1971: 173). For,as AndrewGreeley(1995:63) putit so
ofEurope. . . becausethere
"Therecouldbe no de-Christianization
crisply,
in the firstplace. ChristianEuropenever
neverwas any Christianization
existed."
THE FAILURE TO CHRISTIANIZE
of
Whywasn'ttheChristianization
question:
Thisraisesa mostsignificant
an
was
fourth
Christianity
of
the
century
At thestart
Europeaccomplished?
andbythemiddle
overtheRomanEmpire,
sweeping
massmovement
immense
hadbeenconverted
(Stark
ofthepopulation
probably
a majority
ofthecentury
to
Christianize
church
the
of
The
failure
then?
early
1996a).Whathappened
with
inkeeping
andtherestofEuropeisentirely
oftheempire
theouterreaches
modelof religiousness
(Stark1985;Starkand lannaccone1994;
the market
overRomewasa masssocial
thattriumphed
Stark1998b).The Christianity
thatsubseThe Christianity
environment.
in a highly
competitive
movement
at best,wasan estabconverted,
quentlyleftmostofEuropeonlynominally
statechurchthatsoughtto extenditself,not through
lished,subsidized,
butbybaptizing
kings(Davies1996:275) andthen
thepopulation,
missionizing
themas nationalsaints(Vauchez1997).That is,theChristianity
canonizing
ofstatechurchesthat
thatprevailedin Europewasan elaboratepatchwork
for
official
oftheeliteandforimposing
requirements
settled
fortheallegiance
the
to
Christianize
effort
sustained
peasant
little
butthatmade
conformity,
thatthestatechurches
1987;Greeley1995).Thus,itisn'tmerely
masses(Duffy
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R.I.P. 261
SECULARIZATION,
ofScandinavia
andnorthern
lackthemotivation
andenergy
Europe
currently
to
filltheirchurches,
ofa
theyhavealwaysbeenlikethis.The 'Christianization"
forexample,
ofteninvolved
Norsekingdom,
littlemorethanthebaptism
ofthe
nobility
and legalrecognition
oftheecclesiastical
of
the
church.
sovereignty
Thisleftthetaskofmissionizing
themasses
toa "kept"
whosewelfare
clergy
was
almost
ofmassassentorsupport,
entirely
witha predictable
independent
lackof
results.
Indeed,corruption
andsloth,as wellas powerstruggles
andenforced
conbecameprominent
formity,
features
oftheChristian
in thefourth
movement
almostimmediately
century,
uponitshavingbecometheofficial
statechurch
(Johnson
to received
1976).Contrary
theconversion
ofConstantine
wisdom,
did notcausethetriumph
ofChristianity.
and most
Rather,it wasthefirst
significant
itsprogress,
stepinslowing
itsvigor,
anddistorting
itsmoral
draining
vision.Mostoftheevilsassociated
withEuropean
sincethemiddle
Christianity
ofthefourth
canbetraced
toestablishment.
century
The "conversion"
of Scandinaviais instructive.
Denmarkwas the first
"Christian"
nationin thenorth,
as a succession
ofkingsaccepted,
or
rejected,
wereindifferent
to Christianity,
in theascension
culminating
ofthedevout
Christian,
KnuttheGreat,in 1016 (Sawyer1982;Roesdahl1980;Jones1968;
Br0ndsted
1965). This now is regardedas the "official"
date of the
Christianization
ofDenmark.
mosthistorians
However,
do notequatethiswith
theChristianization
oftheDanishpeople,writing
insteadthatthisfollowed
only"gradually"
(Br0ndsted
1965:310) andnotingthattheconversions
ofthe
monarchs
were"[niever
theresult
ofpopular
demand"
(Sawyer
1982:139).
Nextcamethe"Christianization"
ofNorway.
OlafTryggvason,
an EnglishChristian
educated,
convert,
seizedthethrone
ofNorway
in995 whereupon
he
tocovertthecountry
attempted
byforce,
killing
somewhoresisted
andburning
theirestates.
Theseandotherrepressive
measures
aroused
sufficient
opposition
to defeathimin theBattleofSvolder(abouttheyear1000)during
whichhe
died.Fifteen
yearslater,OlafHaraldsson,
whohad beenbaptizedin France,
conqueredNorway,
and he too usedfireand swordin an effort
to compel
Christianization.
Andhe tooprovoked
widespread
hatredleadingto rebellion,
andwasdrivenintoexile.Whenhe attempted
to return
leadinga newarmy
raisedin Kiev,he wasdefeated
andkilledat theBattleofStikklestad
in 1030.
Despitethis,he soon was canonizedas St. Olaf and is creditedwiththe
Christianization
ofNorway,
whichseemsto haveconsisted
primarily
ofthe
reimposition
ofOlaf'sofficial
policiesofintolerance
(Sawyer
1982;Jones1968).
The conversion
of Icelandfolloweda somewhat
similarpattern
as both
Norwegian
Olafssuccessively
extended
theirefforts
at forced
conversion
upon
theircolony.At a meeting
oftheAlthingin 1000theIcelanders
yieldedto
Norwegianpressure
by adoptingthe law "thatall peopleshouldbecome
Christianand thosewhoherein the land wereyetunbaptized
shouldbe
baptized."
But, the law readon: "peoplemightsacrifice
to the old godsin
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262
SOCIOLOGYOF RELIGION
wasoutlawed,
subsequently
paganism
(Byock1988:142).Although
private"
and theirChristianization
stilllingeramongIcelanders,
aspectsof paganism
inthechurch.
participation
inmorethanthemostminimal
neverresulted
and Finland
century,
paganintothetwelfth
The Swedishcourtremained
1965).It
Br0ndsted
(Sawyer
1982;
paganuntilthethirteenth
officially
remained
thegeneralpopulation
to Christianize
as to thelackofeffort
seemsrevealing
wereevensentto the Lappsuntilthe middleof the
thatno missionaries
it is not clearwhenpopular
(Baldwin1900). In reality,
sixteenth
century
and,as inthecaseofIceland,
actually
begantowaneinScandinavia
paganism
(SawyerandSawyer
disappear
thereis reasonto supposeit neverdidentirely
Adamof Bremen,
to Scandinavia,
missionary
1993). The famousChristian
in the
conducted
humansacrifices)
(including
wroteat lengthofceremonies
century
(Jones
theeleventh
ofUppsala(Sweden)during
pagantemple
luxurious
fortheNorseto
1965).Indeed,itseemsto havebeentypical
1968;Br0ndsted
Olaf)into
saints(especially
Christian
Christ
andvarious
"convert"
byincluding
in theIcelandicLandnumabok
that
thepaganpantheon.Thus,itwaswritten
butinvoked
HelgitheLean"wasverymixedinhisfaith;he believedinChrist,
1965:306).
ofseafaring
and direnecesssity"
(in Br0ndsted
Thorin matters
of
Br0ndsted
(1965: 307) notedthat"a changeofgodsat thesummit
Johannes
a
scale
was
on
the
there
but
lower
down
societymightoccureasilyenough;
Indeed,Br0ndstedsuggeststhat the conversionof
naturalresistance."
tookoverold [pagan]
"only. . . whenChristianity
Scandinaviaoccurred
live
a
andallowedthemto
under newguise."
Thus,the
anduseages
superstitions
a
including
amalgam,
thateventually
wasa strange
emerged
Christianity
popular
someofthemonly
andcelebrations,
greatdeal in thewayofpagantraditions
as AndrewGreeley(1996:
Christianized
(Davies1996).Consequently,
thinly
wasneverdeepenoughinnorthern
commitment
66) haspointedout,Christian
nor"deepenoughtosurvive
changes
muchmassattendance,
Europetogenerate
oftheirpoliticalleadersduringtheReformation,
affiliation
in the religious
lines."
across
denominational
backandforth
sometimes
I beganwith
areeasilydemonstrated
quantitatively.
points
BothofGreeley's
the 16 nationsof westernEurope.3For each, I calculatedthe numberof
with
Christianization
sincetheirsupposed
(20 minusthecentury),
centuries
from16 forItalydownto 7 forFinland(Davies1996;Barrett
valuesranging
1982;Sawyer1982;Roesdahl1980;Shepherd1980;Jones1968; Br0ndsted
thatthe morerecentthe
1965). This variableis basedon the assumption
WorldValues
to the1990-1991
themoresuperficial.
Turning
Christianization,
As would
basedon therateofchurchattendance.
I createda variable
Surveys,
with
correlated
is
ofChristianization
theduration
bepredicted,
extremely
highly
3 (Century
(13), France
(11),Finland
(7), Denmark
(9), Belgium
Austria
Christianization)
ofsupposed
(8), Norway(11),
(9), GreatBritain(9), Iceland(11), Ireland(5), Italy(4), Netherlands
(6), Germany
(8).
(4), Spain(4), Sweden(12),andSwitzerland
Portugal
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R.I.P. 263
SECULARIZATION,
ratesofchurchattendance
contemporary
themost
(.72). In similar
fashion,
in the Reformation
plausiblemeasureof participation
some
ofthese
(since
modernnationsincludemanyareas thatwereindependent
statesin the
isthepercent
sixteenth
century)
the1996Catholic
Catholic,whichI tookfrom
Almanac.
thisvariableis veryhighly
correlated
Again,as predicted,
(.89) with
theduration
ofChristianization.
SUBJECTIVERELIGIOUSNESS
SteveBruceoftheUniversity
ofAberdeen
has longbeenone ofthemost
die-hard
ofthesecularization
thesis.Recently,
proponents
evenhe admitted
oforganized
that,interms
theGoldenAgeofFaithneverexisted.
participation,
Indeed,Bruce(1997: 674) proposes
thatthemedievalchurchwasnoteven
especially
concerned
to bringthepeopleto massas "ivasclearfromthevery
architecture
ofchurches
andforms
ofservice."
But,rather
thangiving
upon the
secularization
thesis,Brucenow claimsthatthe GoldenAge of medieval
religiousness
wassubjective,
thatpeoplestrongly
embraced
supernatural
beliefs,
Christian
or otherwise.
Putanotherway,Brucenowclaimsthatevenifthe
medieval
massesseldomwentto church,
mostpeoplein thiserastillmustbe
regarded
as religious
becausetheybelieved.I agree.Certainly
mostpeoplein
medieval
timesseemtohaveheldreligious
eveniftheseweresomewhat
beliefs,
vagueand includedas muchmagicand animismas Christianity,
and thus
through
belief,ifnotthrough
practice,
thesewerereligious
societies
(cf.,Duffy
1992),keepingin mindthata substantial
proportion
ofmedieval
populations
did nottaketheirreligious
beliefsveryseriously.
Nor mustwe forget
thata
significant
number,
probably
aboutthesameas today,
rejected
religious
beliefs.
As Franklin
Baumer(1960:99) putit, "Contrary
to popular
supposition
there
wasplenty
ofscepticism
intheMiddleAges,andsomeofit wasquiteradical."
from
Judging
theprevalence
ofblasphemous
graffiti
onthewallsofPompeii,
the
samemustbe saidoftheGreco-Roman
era(MacMullen
1981;Stark1996a).
I tooassumethatbeliefwaswidespread,
Nevertheless,
and I interpret
the
prevalence
ofreligious
beliefs
as representing
a potential
demand
fororganized
- a potential
in thesesocieties
religion
inthesensethatitawaitedactivation
bysuchaggressive
suppliers
as theWaldensians.
However,
rather
thanrestoring
a benchmark
ofpastpietyagainstwhichto demonstrate
thesecularization
of
modern-day
Europe,
thesameobservation
applieswithequalforce
today.
Thatis,
whileratesofreligious
participation
arefarlowerin EuropethanintheUnited
States,differences
aresmallwhencomparisons
arebasedon subjective
measures
offaith(Starkandlannaccone
1994;Stark1998a).
Mycolleagues
andI arehardly
thefirst
tonoticethisphenomenon.
Thereis
a substantial
British
research
literature
on whatGraceDavie (1990a,1990b,
1994)refers
to as "believing
without
belonging."
In a recentadditionto this
literature,
MichaelWinter
andChristopher
Short(1993:635,648) summed
up:
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264
SOCIOLOGYOF RELIGION
Europe
beliefin northern
of religious
'What is clear is thatmostsurveys
highlevelsof beliefin God and someof themore
continuing
demonstrate
attendance."
lowlevelsofchurch
butrather
faith
oftheChristian
tenets
general
surprisingly,
andperhaps
a relatively,
has"revealed
Theyaddthattheirresearch
- andperhaps
forthatreasontheirworkhas not
lowlevelofsecularization"
Butitistrue,nonetheless:
socialscientists.
beenmuchcitedbyotherEuropean
citedas examples
mostoften
highinthenations
remains
religiousness
subjective
religion
placeswhereitisclaimedthatpeoplehaveoutgrown
ofsecularization,
detail.
onecaseingreater
toexamine
forgood.Itseemsuseful
BecauseIcelandhas been proposedas the firstfully(or nearlyfully)
test
nationon earth(cf.,Tomasson1980),it seemsan appropriate
secularized
on
istakenas self-evident
secularized
case.The claimthatIcelandisextremely
Nevertheless,
attendweekly.
- about2 percent
churches
thebasisofitsempty
highlevels
WilliamSwatos(1984) reported
fieldwork,
on thebasisofextensive
all
thatnearly
highratesofbaptism,
in Icelandtoday,
religion
ofin-the-home
are
ofpersonalimmortality
and that"affirmations
occurin church,
weddings
of
bya closefriend
arewritten
whichusually
in newspaper
obituaries,
typical"
that
therefore,
surprising,
It ishardly
thanbya newswriter.
thedeceasedrather
express
that81 percentof Icelanders
report
the 1990WorldValuesSurveys
saytheybelievehumans
thatthereis lifeafterdeath,88 percent
confidence
And whenasked'"How
believein reincarnation.
havea soul,and 40 percent
82 percentsaidthey
services?"
religious
of
outside
to
God
pray
oftendo you
only2.4
Moreover,
andoneoffoursaidtheydidso "often."
sometimes,
prayed
Surely
atheists."
ofIcelandsaytheyare"convinced
ofthepopulation
percent
4 in
that
Moreover,
a
society."
"secularized
is
meant
by
thisis notwhatusually
theory
us thatthesecularization
servesto remind
10 believein reincarnation
are
all beliefsin the supernatural
neverhas been limitedto Christianity;
the
of
to
the
in
worship
from
belief
shift
Jesus
massive
a
and
even
pertinent
therefore,
It is worthnoting,
secularization.
Kaliwouldnotconstitute
goddess
in Iceland,popularevenamong
also is extremely
widespread
thatspiritualism
1997).In lightof
(SwatosandGissurarson
andacademics
leadingintellectuals
as
nationseemas fatuous
secularized
thesedata,claimsthatIcelandis thefirst
was
thattrueCommunism
leftists,
onceso popular
amongwestern
do theclaims,
Mao'sleadership.
beingachievedinChinaunder
RELIGION AND SCIENCE
In
showupamongscientists!
itmust
istoshowupanywhere
Ifsecularization
conflict
that
the
an earlierstudy,mycolleaguesand I examinedevidence
are not
and thatscientists
fictional
betweenreligionand scienceis largely
as isthegeneral
church
public.Even
toattend
beingas likely
irreligious,
notably
who
theproportion
academics,
isthefactthatamongAmerican
morerevealing
For
their
field.
more
scientific
the
is higher
as religious
regardthemselves
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R.I.P.
SECULARIZATION,
265
andnatural
example,
physical
aremore
scientists,
including
mathematicians,
thantwiceas likelyto identify
themselves
as "a religious
as are
person"
and psychologists
anthropologists
(Starket al. 1996,1998).But,aren'tsome
- Richard
scientists
militant
atheists
whowrite
booksto discredit
religion
Dawkins
andCarlSagan,forexample?
Ofcourse.
it
also
is
worth
notethat
But,
most
ofthose,
likeDawkins
andSagan,
aremarginal
tothescientific
community
forlackofsignificant
scientific
work.
Aid possibly
evenmoreimportant
isthe
factthattheologians
(cf.,Cupitt1997)andprofessors
ofreligious
studies
(cf.,
Mack1996)area farmore
prolific
ofpopular
source
works
ofatheism.
Recently,
quiteamazing
timeseries
dataon thebeliefs
ofscientists
were
in Nature.
In 1914theAmerican
published
Luebasent
psychologist
James
questionnaires
toa random
ofpersons
sample
inAmerican
listed
MenofScience.
Eachwasaskedtoselectoneofthefollowing
statements
in
belief
"concerning
God"(allitalics
intheoriginal):
1. I believeina Godto whomonemayprayintheexpectation
ofreceiving
an answer.
By
I meanmore
"answer,"
than
thesubjective,
psychological
effect
ofprayer.
2. I donotbelieveinGodasdeined
above.
3. I havenodefinite
belief
regarding
thisquestion.
Leuba's
standard
forbelief
inGodissostringent
itwould
exclude
a substantial
portion
of"mainline"
clergy,
andthatobviously
wasintentional
onhispart.4
He
wanted
toshowthatmenofscience
wereirreligious.
To hisdismay,
Leubafound
that41.8percent
ofhissample
ofprominent
scientists
selected
optionone,
a position
thereby
taking
manywouldregard
as "fundamentalist."
Another
41.5
percent
selected
thesecond
option
(many
ofwhom,
asLeubaacknowledged,
no
doubtbelieved
in a somewhat
lessactivedeity),
and16.7percent
tookthe
indefinite
alternative.
Clearly,
theseresults
werenotwhatLeubahadexpected
andhoped.So hegavegreat
emphasis
tothefactthat,as measured,
believers
werenotinthemajority
andwentontoexpress
hisfaith
inthefuture,
claiming
- a rejection
thatthese
datademonstrated
a rejection
of"fundamental
dogmas
apparently
destined
toextend
parallel
withthediffusion
ofknowledge"
(1916:
280).
In 1996Edward
J.Larson
andLarry
Witham
(1997)replicated
Leuba's
study
exactly.
Theyfound
thatnowadays
39.3percent
ofeminent
scientists
selected
option
one,which
isnotsignificantly
different
from
the41.8percent
whodidso
in1914.Thistime45.3percent
choseoption
two,and14.5percent
tookoption
three.
Thus,overan 82-year
period,
there
hasbeennodecline
ina very
literal
4 Ina 1968sample
ofProtestant
clergy
inCalifornia,
only45percent
ofpastors
oftheUnited
Church
of
Christ
couldagree"I knowGodreally
existsandI havenodoubts
aboutit"(Starketal. 1971).OfMethodist
52percent
clergy,
agreed.
Noticethatthisitemismuchlessstringent
thantheoneusedbyLeubasinceclergy
werefreetodefine
Godas theywished.
Giventhatthemajority
ofthesesameclergy
doubted
thedivinity
of
Jesus,
onemustsuppose
thatmany
ofthemasserted
theirbeliefs
ina rather
andvagueconception
remote
of
God,notonewhohearsandanswers
prayers.
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266
SOCIOLOGYOF RELIGION
indeed!
Secularization,
beliefinGodamongscientists.
EASTERN REVIVALS
consequences,
had manyremarkable
The collapseofSovietCommunism
of
ofseveralgenerations
nottheleastofwhichwasto revealtheabjectfailure
atheismin easternEuropeand the former
to indoctrinate
dedicatedefforts
inhuman
(1994:253) putit,"Neverbefore
Greeley
SovietUnion.As Andrew
a religion,
outnotmerely
tostamp
effort
hastherebeensucha concerted
history
as pushing
ofitself
. . . Atheistic
thought
Communism
butall traceofreligion.
in whichreligionwould
the inevitableprocessof secularization
forward
form,
milder
which,inperhaps
from
thefaceoftheearth- a process
disappear
socialscientists."
dogmatic
formany
offaith
isan article
thanin western
Atheistsare few,not moreprevalent
And the results?
themajority
Europeor,indeed,intheUnitedStates.In mostofthesecountries
tolevelscomparable
hadrecovered
already
attendance
andby1990church
pray,
continues
to rise,as do other
church
attendance
to western
Europe.Moreover,
rose
attendance
In Hungary,
monthly
church
forexample,
forms
ofreligiousness.
less
attending
in 1991,whilethepercent
in 1981to 25 percent
16percent
from
of
thepercent
Meanwhile,
62 percent
to 44 percent.
thanoncea yearfellfrom
14to4. In Russia,
fellfrom
atheists"
whosaidtheywere"convinced
Hungarians
in 1991.In onlyfiveyears
ofrespondents
saidtheywerenotreligious
53 percent
thisfellto37 percent.
theseearly
during
revivals
areunderway
majorreligious
Byanymeasure,
eraintheoldSovietbloc.Thisseemstohavetaken
daysofthepost-Communist
(as haveall recentsignsofreligious
entirely
bysurprise
mostsocialscientists
vitality).As MaryDouglaspointedoutas longago as 1982:
forms....According
to
religious
oftraditional
revivals
therecent
foresaw
No one,however,
timeshappensinonlytwoways- the
changein modern
an extensive
literature,
religious
expressions
thetraditional
religious
offoftraditional
Christian
churches
[orwhatever
falling
the
No onecredited
to endure.
ofnewcults,notexpected
andtheappearance
ofa society],
to inspirelarge-scale
withenoughvitality
politicalrevolt. . . the
traditional
religions
wasas
in Poland,whichevokesdeepWesternadmiration,
Catholicuprising
explicitly
inAmerica.
churches
as theriseofthefundamentalist
unpredicted
who
formeto quotevarioussocialscientists
It wouldbe needlessly
vindictive
nationswere
educatorsin "socialist"
once werecertainthat"enlightened"
a newera of
and launching
children"
fromthegripof superstition
"freeing
a bitof
doesnotgoso faras toprevent
But,mywill-power
secularity.
permanent
in 1979:
ata conference
henceI quotea paperI initially
presented
crowing,
and ... to theextentthattheytryto rootit out,
statescannotrootoutreligion,
[Slecular
underglass,
toreligious
opposition....Lenin'sbodymaybedisplayed
theywillbevulnerable
tositon theright
thathe hasascended
hand,oreventhelefthand,of
butno onesupposes
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R.I.P. 267
SECULARIZATION,
oftheuniverse.
Marx.And,damsalongtheVolgado notlightupthemeaning
Moreover,
tofuelthe
repressive
statesseemtoincrease
levelsofindividual
deprivation
and,insodoing,
Inmaking
morecostly,
andvaluable.
religious
faith
impulse.
theyalsomakeitmorenecessary
Perhaps
religion
isneversorobust
as whenitisanunderground
church
(Stark1981:175).
Andsoitwas.
ISLAM
The evidenceexaminedthusfarhas beenlimitedto Christiannations.Now
let us shiftto religioustrendsin Islam.In extraordinary
contradiction
to the
ofthe Islamic
secularization
doctrine,thereseemsto be a profound
compatibility
- severalstudies
faithand modernization
fromquitedifferent
partsoftheworld
suggest
thatMuslimcommitment
increases
withmodernization!
In a studyof Muslimsin Java,JosephTamney(1979, 1980) foundthat
religiouscommitmentwas positivelycorrelatedwith education and with
occupationalprestige.That is, people who had attendedcollege and/orheld
highstatusoccupationsweresubstantially
morelikelyto praythe requiredfive
timesa day,to givealms,and to fastin accordwithorthodoxIslamicpractice
thanwereMuslimswithlittleeducationand/orlowstatusoccupations.
Tamney
also recognized
thathis findings
impliedthatMuslimpracticewouldincreaseas
modernization
proceeded.In a subsequentwork,Tamney(1992) has analyzed
the "resilience"
of religion,how it has been able to adjust to challengesof
modernity.
A studyof the leading Muslim"fundamentalist"
movementin Pakistan
foundthatthe leadersare highlyeducated(all havingadvanceddegrees),and
supporters
of the movementare drawnoverwhelmingly
from"thenew middle
class"(Ahmad1991). This is confirmed
bydataon Turkishstudents
basedon an
actual timeseries.Since 1978 therehas been a remarkableincreasein the
proportion
ofstudentsat the University
ofAnkarawho hold orthodoxIslamic
beliefs,and in 1991 the overwhelming
majority
of studentsheld theseviews.
Thus, in 1978, 36 percentof studentsexpressedfirmbeliefthat "thereis a
Heaven and a Hell," while in 1991 three-fourths
held thisview. As Kayhan
Mutlu(1996: 355) explained,faithin "theessentialelementsofIslamicbeliefsis
becomingwidespread
amongthe university
studentsi.e., the prospective
elites,
in Ankara."These students
arethefuture
politicaland intellectual
leadersofthe
nation,includingits futurescientistsand engineers.Moreover,Turkeyis, by
mostmeasures,
the mostmodernized
of Islamicnationsand, beginningin the
1920s,experienced
decadesofofficial
statesecularity
and semi-official
irreligion,
althoughthesepolicieshave wanedin recenttimes(forreasonsentirely
clearin
thedata).
Of course,these Islamic data are fragmentary.
On the otherhand, no
informedobservereven needs data such as these to detect the thunderous
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268
SOCIOLOGYOF RELIGION
to
Islamandto realizethatit is in directproportion
ofcontemporary
vitality
modernization.
ASIAN "FOLK' RELIGIONS
religious
rapidandprofound
expected
WorldWar11,all observers
Following
westernizing
inJapanandin therapidly
especially
changesin Asianreligions,
Chineseenclaves,such as in Taiwan,Hong Kong,and Malaysia. More
and highlymagical,"folk"
it was assumedthatthe traditional,
specifically,
(Chen
givewayto modernity
wouldrapidly
foundin thesesettings
religions
JohnNelson(1992:77)
consensus,
upthescholarly
1995;Tan 1994).Summing
for
likelycandidate
wouldseema highly
practices
notedthat"Shintoreligious
But,that'snot what
society."
consumer
withinJapan'shigh-tech
extinction
than
morefolktemples
happened.In Taiwantoday,thereareproportionately
(about70
ofthepopulation
proportion
ago,anda larger
therewerea century
(Chen 1995).In HongKong,
thaneverbefore
thesetemples
frequent
percent)
withtheTempleofWongTai
alsoflourishes,
traditional
Chinesefolkreligion
following
from
Chinain 1915,havingthelargest
god"imported
Sin,"a refugee
to
"continues
theChinesefolkreligion
(LangandRagvald1993).In Malaysia,
inJapan,
(Nelson
Shintoisveryvigorous
thrive"
(Tan 1994:274). Meanwhile,
faithhas provedso
traditional
an "oldfashioned,"
1992).In all fourcontexts
life.Thatis,folk
formodern
suitable
as tocometobe seenas especially
adaptable
peasants,butflourishes
uneducated
religiondoes not lingeramongelderly,
(Chen 1995;Tan 1994;Lang
educatedurbanites
amongtheyoung,
successful,
inJapan"itis commonplace
and Ragvold1993;Nelson1992).Consequently,
or
thatnewresidences,
offices,
thatnewcarsbe blessedat a [Shinto]shrine,
its
and
and calmtheland
ceremonies
purify
factories
be builtafterexorcism
arededicatedthere"(Nelson1992: 77). Indeed,Shinto
deity,thatchildren
roleinJapantodaythaninthepre-World
seemtoplaya moreprominent
rituals
II
was
to be divineandShintowas
War days,backwhentheEmperor thought
is
bybeingdisestablished
the statereligion.That Shintowasstrengthened
ofreligion.
inaccordwiththemarket
theory
entirely
WHAT ABOUT CHANGE?
someofwhomfoundit
I spoketoa groupofChristian
historians,
Recently
that
is
not
far
along.One mentioned
toacceptthatsecularization
verydifficult
halfofthenineteenth
inGermany
inthelatter
roseprecipitously
religiousness
wenton at length
Another
in thetwentieth.
century
onlyto fallsubstantially
chidedme
andanother
overthepastseveralcenturies,
aboutdoctrinal
changes
I
hadsome
in
witchcraft.
inthedeclineinbelief
forfailing
toseesecularization
thesisuntilI
in seeinghowsomeofthisrelatedto thesecularization
difficulty
believedthatthis
camefrom
peoplewhosomehow
thattheseremarks
realized
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R.I.P. 269
SECULARIZATION,
articleproposesthatthereis no suchthingas religious
Of course,
change!
religionchanges.Of course,thereis morereligious
and even
participation
greater
beliefinthesupernatural
at sometimesandplacesthaninothers,
justas
religious
organizations
havemoresecular
andplacesthanin
powerinsometimes
others.Ofcourse,doctrines
change- AquinaswasnotAugustine,
andboth
wouldfindheresy
intheworkofAveryDulles.Butchangedoesnotequatewith
decline!Ifnextyeareveryone
inCanadabecamea piousHinduthiscouldhave
manyinterpretations,
butsecularization
wouldnotbeamongthem.Indeed,
what
is neededis a bodyoftheory
to explainreligious
to tellus whenand
variation,
whyvarious
aspectsofreligiousness
riseandfall,orarestable(Stark1998b).In
thatregard,
thesecularization
is as uselessas a hotelelevator
theory
thatonly
goesdown.
CONCLUSION
Letmeemphasize
thatnoonecanprove
thatonedayreligion
willnotwither
away.Perhaps
thedaywillcomewhenreligion
hasbeenrelegated
to memory
andmuseums.
Ifso,however,
thiswillnothavebeencausedbymodernization,
andthedemise
offaithwillbearno resemblance
totheprocess
postulated
bythe
secularization
doctrine.
Therefore,
once and forall, letus declarean endto
socialscientific
faithinthetheory
ofsecularization,
recognizing
thatit wasthe
productof wishful
thinking.
As a requiem,I offer
finalremarks
by three
distinguished
scholars:
an anthropologist,
thena medieval
historian,
andfinally
bya sociologist.
MaryDouglas(1982:29) hasargued
forcefully
andpersuasively
againstthe
secularization
doctrine
as having"beenconstructed
to flatter
prejudged
ideas"
whichwillneedtobe discarded
"whenreligious
sociology
modernizes."
Itsimply
is nottrue,Douglasnotes,thatmodern
lifecontrasts
sharply
withlifeinsimple
societieswhenit comesto theprevalence
of religious
belief.WithClifford
Geertz(1966), she recognizes
thatunbelief
is notuncommon
in pre-literate
societies
or,indeed,
inOldTestament
times:
Uncritical
nostalgia
forpastagesoffaith
beingoutofplaceinreligious
studies,
letusnoteat
once thatthereis no goodevidencethata highlevelofspirituality
had generally
been
reached
bythemassofmankind
inpasttimes....Nordoes(anthropology]
teachthatmodem
times
showa declinefrom
ancient
standards
ofpiety.
AlexanderMurray
(1972: 106), havingdemonstrated
thatthe original
sources
arenearly
unanimous
intheiradmission
ofwidespread
irreligiousness
in
medievaltimes,askedfrom
whencecamethenotionoftheAgeofFaith.He
concluded:
Thescientific
enlightenment
wastempted
toconceive
faith
notas a virtue,
butas anoriginal
sin,from
whichtheMessiah
ofknowledge
cametorescue
it. Itfollows
from
thatviewthat,in
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270
SOCIOLOGYOF RELIGION
theoldendays,menmusthavebelievedall theChurchtoldthem.Thispaperhastriedto
shakethehistorical
partofthatconception.
(1997:974):
PeterBerger
Andfinally,
I thinkwhatI andmostothersociologists
wroteinthe1960saboutsecularization
ofreligion
andmodernity
go handin
argument
wasthatsecularization
Ourunderlying
wasa mistake.
There
a crazytheory.
It wasn't
comesmoresecularization.
hand.Withmoremodernization
todayiscertainly
wrong.
Mostoftheworld
forit.ButI thinkit'sbasically
wassomeevidence
It'svery
religious.
notsecular.
and misrepresenofutterly
failedprophesies
Afternearlythreecenturies
tationsof bothpresentand past,it seemstimeto carrythe secularization
offailed
andthere
in
towhisper
"requiescat
to thegraveyard
theories,
doctrine
pace."
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