A Globalized God

Religion's Growing Influence in International Politics

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Around the world -- from the southern United States to the Middle East -- religion is on the rise. It is growing in countries with a wide variety of religious traditions and levels of economic development, suggesting that neither poverty nor social exclusion is solely responsible. The religious resurgence is not simply defined by the growth of fundamentalism -- rigid adherence to a particular set of rituals and doctrines -- but is occurring through a variety of renewed rituals and practices, both public and private.

Demographics are reinforcing this trend. The global religious landscape in the coming years will be affected by the massive shift in population growth from the developed countries of the North -- predominantly in western Europe and the former Soviet republics -- to the developing countries of the so-called global South. The North accounted for 32 percent of the world's population in 1900, 25 percent in 1970, and about 18 percent in 2000. By 2050, it will likely account for just 10 percent. Religion has emerged as a driving factor in this redistribution. Religiosity is now one of the most accurate indicators of fertility, far more telling than denominational or ethnic identity, since religious people tend to have more children than their secular counterparts.

Religion will also increasingly be an urban phenomenon. The growing population in the developing nations will mostly settle in vast, burgeoning, and largely impoverished metropolises -- areas where religion is spreading. According to conventional wisdom, secularization became an inevitable part of modernization with the spread of education, science, technology, and

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