Magazine article Newsweek

Modernity's Worldwide Belief Boom

Magazine article Newsweek

Modernity's Worldwide Belief Boom

Article excerpt

Byline: Eve Conant

The Economist's John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge's new book, "God Is Back," argues that as the world grows more modern, it also becomes more religious. This is a good thing, the authors say: although religion can spawn bloodshed, the American ideals that have modernized faith can also channel the world away from violence. Micklethwait spoke to NEWSWEEK's Eve Conant.

This magazine's cover story last week detailed how the number of self-identified Christians is falling and how the religious right has failed as a political movement. Yet you say those who bet against the strength of American Christianity have invariably been proved wrong.

One of the things the article argued in NEWSWEEK was that religion would retreat a bit in American politics. We're not so sure about that, for two reasons. [First] you have perhaps an even bigger split than before--between a bigger number of people who are not keen on religion, and then a larger core of people who are. The other issue is that religion has stopped being just a Republican issue. The religious right has run into real problems. But the sort of religiosity that Obama typified--there's a way in which those religious elements could spread rather than go down.

You write that the developments many thought would destroy religion--such as democracy and markets--have made religion stronger. Might our economic crisis change that?

It could. But globalization has two kinds of effects in terms of encouraging people to be religious. …

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