Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The "fastest-growing" religion?

Jason Pitzl-Waters links to a survey showing "nature religion" to be the fastest-growing religious category in Australia.

Jim Lewis, a long-time scholar of new religious movements, presented a similar roundup last week at AAR-SBL. Interestingly, he found the number of Pagans in English-speaking countries to come in consistently at about 0.1 percent. (That's one-tenth of one percent.)

I think that should Pagans reach about the 2-percent mark, it would be a sort of tipping point. What that Paganism would look like, I have no idea.

"Growth" is a debatable term, of course. The steering committees for each AAR program unit are supposed to track how many people come to each session for institutional-research purposes. At one of the new religious movements sessions, an attendee cracked, "Let's just be like the Scientologists and count everyone who comes through the door [as a member]."

Yeah. Whose numbers do you trust?


Blogger Jason said...

I'm not 100% sure, but I think Bouma is using census data. So it should be fairly accurate (or at least as accurate as such things can be).

As for "tipping points" I think we have collectively passed the "fad that may fade" marker, and are working towards the "world religions" tipping point. Which, as you say, may have to wait till we are around 2% of populations.

I do wonder though how a "pan-pagan" identity will shift once we are big enough to matter. Will we start reaching out to other polytheists (what I think of as the "Jordan Paper" model) to form biggger coalitions? Or will European/American forms of polytheism and nature religion stay isolated?

12:07 PM  
Anonymous diane said...

Well, I just wonder how many people who do not contribute census data would affect the numbers. I have never put on a census form, for example, that I am a Wiccan. So I'm not in that 1 or 2 percent. I went to the AAR/SBL convention last year, and met many, many Wiccans like myself who are professional scholars. I have a feeling the "numbers" are not as small as depicted.

2:18 PM  

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