In his new book Fertility and Faith: The Demographic Revolution and the Transformation of World Religions (Baylor University Press, 2020), Philip Jenkins maps the demographic revolution that has taken hold of many countries around the globe in recent decades and explores the implications for the future development of the world’s religions.
Demographic change has driven the secularization of contemporary Western Europe, where the revolution began. Jenkins shows how the European trajectory of rapid declines in fertility is now affecting much of the globe. The implications are clear: the religious character of many non-European areas is highly likely to move in the direction of sweeping secularization. And this is now reshaping the United States itself.
This demographic revolution is reshaping Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, and Judaism. In order to accommodate the new social trends, these religions must adapt to situations where large families are no longer the norm. Each religious tradition will develop distinctive emphases concerning morality, gender, and sexuality, as well as the roles of clergy and laity in the faith’s institutional structures.
Radical change follows great upheaval and the tidal shift is well underway, Jenkins argues. In his new book, he describes this ongoing phenomenon and envisions our collective religious future.
Philip Jenkins is Distinguished Professor of History at Baylor University and Emeritus Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Humanities with Penn State. He received his PhD in history from Cambridge and has published 29 books, which have been translated into sixteen languages. The Economist magazine has called him “one of America’s best scholars of religion.”
Carrie Lynn Evans is a PhD student at Université Laval in Quebec City.
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