Sacred and Secular

Religion and Politics Worldwide

Sacred and Secular

August Comte, Herbert Spencer, Emile Durkheim, Max Weber, Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud predicted that religion would gradually fade in importance and cease to be significant with the emergence of industrial society. Their belief that religion was dying became conventional wisdom in the social sciences during most of the twentieth century. However, this analysis reveals that the traditional secularization thesis needs updating now. Religion has not disappeared and is unlikely to do so, even though secularization has had a surprisingly powerful negative impact on human fertility rates.


"This book is an impressive, well-documented, systematic examination of empirical evidence from many countries and cultures. It does not claim to resolve the secularization debate, but moves it to a new, more informed, and enlightening level..."
R.L. Herrick, emeritus, Westmar University

"This is a landmark book that deserves to be read widely and closely. It is rigorously grounded, carefully researched, and cogently argued ... A rare coup de grace in the form of a sharp and elegant empirical thrust to the heart of a protracted debate... Overall, this is a landmark book that deserves to be read widely and closely. It is rigorously grounded, carefully researched, and cogently argued... While not a holy text, it merits the kind of exegesis that many such texts receive."
N. J. Demerath, American Journal of Sociology

"Sacred and Secular is a very well-structured book, enriched by valuable survey data. It engages in important debates on development and secularization with its methodological elegancy and theoretical parsimony. It is a significant source to understand the classical social scientific approach to religion and a necessary basis to locate conflicting arguments on the field."
Ahmet T. Kuru, University of Washington, Comparative Political Studies

"Norris & Inglehart's book is a pleasure to read and an inspiration for scholars for its effort to generate solid knowledge on a much-debated question. Along the way, the reader will find much fascinating material..."
Sven Gunnar Simonsen, Journal of Peace Research

Sacred and Secular is a fine reference book for statistics on trends in religious observance throughout the world." Journal of Church and State Wendy Dackson

"The book is a major contribution to the life of the idea of secularization and the larger issues about the nature and meaning of modernity bound up with that idea. It merits close study."
Daniel Silver, University of Chicago

"The book’s evidence and arguments—which are likely attracting the attention of a broad reading public beyond academia—certainly merit more critical discussion and focused evaluation by religion scholars, as they bear importantly on many larger concerns in the scientific study of religion and have many potential important policy implications."
Christian Smith, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion