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 900436711X, 9789004367111

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The Critical Analysis of Religious Diversity

International Studies in Religion and Society Editors-in-Chief Lori G. Beaman (University of Ottawa) Peter Beyer (University of Ottawa) Advisory Board Afe Adogame (University of Edinburgh) Elizabeth Coleman (Monash University) Lene Kühle (Aarhus University) Mary Jo Neitz (University of Missouri) Linda Woodhead (University of Lancaster)

volume 32

The titles published in this series are listed at

The Critical Analysis of Religious Diversity Edited by

Lene Kühle William Hoverd Jørn Borup

leiden | boston

Cover illustration: taken at Plum Village, Bordeau, France. Photo by Jørn Borup. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Kühle, Lene, editor. Title: The critical analysis of religious diversity / edited by Lene Kühle, William Hoverd, Jorn Borup. Description: Boston : Brill, 2018. | Series: International studies in religion and society, ISSN 1573-4293 ; volume 32 | Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: LCCN 2018023162 (print) | LCCN 2018024337 (ebook) | ISBN 9789004367111 (e-book) | ISBN 9789004367098 (hardback : alk. paper) Subjects: LCSH: Religions. | Cultural pluralism. Classification: LCC BL80.3 (ebook) | LCC BL80.3 .C75 2018 (print) | DDC 201/.5--dc23 LC record available at

Typeface for the Latin, Greek, and Cyrillic scripts: “Brill”. See and download: issn 1573-4293 isbn 978-90-04-36709-8 (hardback) isbn 978-90-04-36711-1 (e-book) Copyright 2018 by Koninklijke Brill nv, Leiden, The Netherlands. Koninklijke Brill nv incorporates the imprints Brill, Brill Hes & De Graaf, Brill Nijhoff, Brill Rodopi, Brill Sense and Hotei Publishing. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, translated, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission from the publisher. Authorization to photocopy items for internal or personal use is granted by Koninklijke Brill nv provided that the appropriate fees are paid directly to The Copyright Clearance Center, 222 Rosewood Drive, Suite 910, Danvers, ma 01923, usa. Fees are subject to change. This book is printed on acid-free paper and produced in a sustainable manner.

Contents Foreword VII Tim Jensen Acknowledgements IX Author Biographies x Introduction: The Critical Analysis of Religious Diversity 1 Lene Kühle and William Hoverd

Part 1 Theoretical and Methodological Issues Introduction to Part 1 16 1 Religious Diversity, Institutionalized Religion, and Religion That is Not Religion 21 Peter Beyer 2 Counting and Mapping Religious Diversity: Methodological Challenges, Unintended Consequences, and Political Implications 41 Mar Griera 3 Constructing and Deconstructing Religious Diversity: The Measurement of Religious Affiliation in Denmark and New Zealand 63 William Hoverd and Lene Kühle 4 Globally Modern – Dynamically Diverse: How Global Modernity Engenders Dynamic Diversity 83 Andrew Dawson

Part 2 Religious Diversity in Non-modern and Non-western Contexts Introduction to Part 2 106 5 Religious Diversity and Discourses of Toleration in Classical Antiquity 109 Mar Marcos



6 Managing and Negotiating Asian Religious Unities and Diversities 128 Jørn Borup 7

A Harmonious Plurality of ‘Religious’ Expressions: Theories and Case Studies from the Chinese Practice of (Religious) Diversity 147 Stefania Travagnin

Part 3 Religious Diversity in Societal Contexts Introduction to Part 3 174 8

Constructing and Representing the New Religious Diversity with Old Classifications: ‘World Religions’ as an Excluding Category in Interreligious Dialogue in Switzerland 179 Martin Baumann and Andreas Tunger-Zanetti


He Said, We Said: Religion in the York University Controversy of 2013–2014 208 Paul Bramadat


Interfaith Youth in Australia: A Critical Reflection on Religious Diversity, Literacy, and Identity 230 Anna Halafoff


Religious Diversity and the News: Critical Issues in the Study of Religion and Media 252 Henrik Reintoft Christensen


Law and Religious Diversity: How South African Courts Distinguish Religion, Witchcraft and Culture 272 Marian Burchardt

Conclusion: The Problems of Religious Diversity 295 Lene Kühle

Index  311

Foreword In their Introduction (p. 1), editors Lene Kühle and William Hoverd quote ­Robert Wuthnow, former president of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion (issr) who (2004, 161) in a 2003 presidential address said: [...] heightened religious diversity [in the United States] [...] posed a significant challenge to ways in which we, as ordinary citizens, think about religion or, as scholars, teach about it and could research about it. The editors, who represent the steering group of a Danish research project ‘The Critical Analysis of Religious Diversity’ (card), position their research project and this book in line with the challenge posed in this quote, and in conjunction with another one taken from a 2008 publication by Lori Beaman and Peter Beyer: …the meaning and implications of the term diversity are contested. By this we mean that there is no single way to conceptualize diversity, and further, that there are consequences to naming diversity as something to be studied beaman and beyer 2008, 2

The card project and its outcomes, as represented and exemplified in this book, follow the recent decades of scholarly interest: an interest not just in religion ‘as such’ or ‘out there’ but an interest in the popular conceptualisations as well as the scholarly notion(s) of religion (‘religion’), an interest in what these notion(s) and categories of religion do to the study of ‘it’ as well as to the political, cultural, societal ways of seeing and handling ‘religion’ and religion(s). It is the critical analyses of the way(s) that scholars and others (media, politicians, states, etc) conceive of, think of, deal with, regulate, and control religion(s), religious pluralisms and diversities that constitutes the core research interest of this volume. This, however, does not mean that the volume is just a (‘highbrow’, abstract, ivory-tower) academic exercise in theoretical or methodological critical selfreflections on the analytical (and political) category and categorization of ‘religious diversity’. It is, of course, a book in which the editors and the authors also describe, analyse, and discuss the actual and factual consequences of the various conceptualisations and categorisations of religious diversity evident in their case-studies. It is, thus, not just the general, scholarly discussions but



equally much the specific empirical cases, the instances or cases of ‘religious diversity’ and religious- diversity-handling that make the volume worthwhile reading for scholars, as well as, for a broader audience. ‘The Critical Analysis of Religious Diversity’, (card) research project funded by the Danish Research Council, will thus hopefully, not least by way of this volume, contribute to, influence, and further qualify Danish as well as international scholarship and scientific progress. Hopefully, however, it will, thus, also influence and qualify non-scholarly, political, cultural and societal, discourses about and conceptualisations of religious diversity. Discourses which – just like the academic ones – often have an impact on religion and religious diversity and the handling of it, ‘out there’, outside the ‘ivory tower’ of academia. The volume at hand, I think, for these very reasons, is a good example of how the intrinsic scientific values may, in implicit and explicit ways, be linked to and even produce extra-scientific values in a manner that does not jeopardize the reputation of scientific research, – neither among scientist nor among politicians. On the contrary: this volume demonstrates the degree to which research can be ‘relevant’ without entering into any kind of shady compromise with its strict scientific standards and aims. Tim Jensen, President of the iahr, The International Association for The History of Religions

Acknowledgements The card Volume is a product of a 2012 Danish Council of Independent ­Research Grant. Aarhus University, Denmark provided support and facilities for the project. The editors are particularly indebted to Professor Tim Jensen whose guidance allowed for the network meetings to be a success. We also specifically want to thank Professor Rosalind Hackett who assisted the development of the card project in many subtle ways. Also Professor Lori ­Beaman who is the Canada Research Chair in the Contextualization of Religion in a ­Diverse Canada supplied Lene Kühle and William Hoverd the conceptual space for the initial card concept to emerge by hosting us at the Religion and Diversity Project at the University of Ottawa. Thanks also to Ms Claire Grant who helped with preparation of the book manuscript. Lastly, we would like to thank all the chapter contributors and other network members. This volume and its insight into religious diversity represents the collective efforts and thoughts of all these fine scholars. The following amazing group of scholars all contributed to the card Network Meetings: Amy ­Adamczyk, Wanda Alberts, Irene Becci, Peter Beyer, Jørn Borup, Paul Bramadat, Marian Burchardt, Andrew Dawson, Yaghoob Foroutan, Satoko Fujiwara, Anna Halafoff, Rosalind Hackett, William Hoverd, Tim Jensen, Alexander-­Kenneth Nagel, Kim Knott, Lene Kühle, Mar Marcos Sanchez, ­Ulrika ­Mårtensson, ­Tuomas Martikainen, Maria del Mar Griera, Mel Prideaux, Susanne W. Rasmussen, Henrik Reintoft Christensen, Louis Rosseau, Martin Stringer, Stefania Travagnin, Andreas Tunger-Zanetti and Kocku von Stuckrad.

Author Biographies Martin Baumann is professor for religious studies at the University of Lucerne, Switzerland. His main areas of teaching and research include migration and religion, religious plurality and public space, Buddhism and Hinduism in western societies. His publications include Westward Dharma. Buddhism beyond Asia (with C.  Prebish, California Press, 2002), Religions of the World: A Comprehensive E­ ncyclopaedia (with G. Melton, 2nd ed., abc Press, 2010), and Religiöse Identitäten und gesellschaftliche Integration (with E. Arens et al., Nomos, 2017). His current research is on immigrant religious communities and their social services to assist social integration. Peter Beyer is professor of religious studies at the University of Ottawa, Canada. His major areas include religion and globalization, sociological theory of religion, religion and migration, and religion in contemporary Canada. His publications include Religion and Globalization (Sage, 1994), Religions in Global Society (Routledge, 2006), Religion in the Context of Globalization (Routledge, 2013), and Growing Up Canadian: Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists (with R. Ramji, McGill-Queen’s, 2013). His current research is on the construction of religious and nonreligious identity in Canada and developing theory on religious transformation in contemporary global society. Jørn Borup is an associate professor at the Department of the Study of Religion at Aarhus University. He has conducted research on Japanese Buddhism, Buddhism in the West, religious diversity, transnational spirituality, and religion and migration. His publications include Japanese Rinzai Zen Buddhism. Myōshinji, a Living Religion (Brill 2008) and Eastspirit. Transnational spirituality and religious circulation in East and West (co-edited with M. Fibiger, Brill 2017). Paul Bramadat is Professor and Director of the Centre for Studies in Religion and Society at the University of Victoria. He holds teaching appointments in the Department of History and the Religious Studies Program. He is interested in the intersections between secularism, religious radicalization, securitization, post-­colonialism, and religious identity in contemporary Canada. Much of his

Author Biographies


research is interdisciplinary and policy-relevant, and revolves around e­ merging ­understandings of religious, political, and ethnic identities in rapidly evolving liberal democratic societies. Most recently, he has initiated a (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council-funded) project on the confluence of religion, environmentalism and bio-regionalism in the Pacific Northwest region of North America. Marian Burchardt is professor of sociology at Leipzig University. As a cultural sociologist, he is interested in how diversity shapes institutions and everyday life. His research engages with the sociology of knowledge, the sociology of religion, urban sociology and theories of modernity, and draws on qualitative and ethnographic methods. He is the author of Faith in the Time of aids: Religion, Biopolitics and Modernity in South Africa (2015), and co-editor of Beyond Neoliberalism (2017), and Topographies of Faith (2013). His work appeared in Comparative Sociology, Sociology of Religion and Law & Social Inquiry. Andrew Dawson is Professor of Modern Religion in the Department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion at Lancaster University, uk. He has degrees in social science and religious studies and researches the transformative character of global-modern society with particular focus on religion. Among Andrew’s most recent books are Sociology of Religion (scm Press, 2011); Santo Daime: A New World Religion (Bloomsbury, 2013); The Politics and Practice of Religious Diversity: National Contexts, Global Issues (Routledge, 2016); and Religion, Migration and Mobility: The Brazilian Experience (with C.M. de Castro, Routledge, 2017). Anna Halafoff is a Senior Lecturer in Sociology, and a member of the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation, at Deakin University. She is also a Research Associate of the unesco Chair in Interreligious and Intercultural Relations – Asia Pacific at Monash University and of Canada’s Religion and Diversity Project. In 2011, Anna was named a United Nations Alliance of Civilizations’ Global Expert in the fields of multifaith relations, and religion and peacebuilding. Anna’s current research interests include: religious diversity; interreligious relations; countering violent extremism; education about religions and worldviews; Buddhism and gender; and Buddhism in Australia. Her recent books include The Multifaith Movement: Global Risks and Cosmopolitan Solutions (Springer 2013) and Education about Religions and Worldviews: Promoting


Author Biographies

­Intercultural and Interreligious Understanding in Secular Societies (Routledge, 2016 edited with Arweck and Boisvert). William Hoverd is a Senior Lecturer at Massey University, New Zealand. He is a social scientist with a specific interest in critical research into New Zealand security issues and religious diversity. In 2012, he was a successful co-recipient of the nz $231,000 Danish Research Council funded Critical Analysis of Religious Diversity Network. In 2011/2012, he was a dfait Government of Canada Post-­ Doctoral F­ ellow, at the Religion and Diversity Project at Ottawa University, Ontario. His sociology of religion publications include: Hoverd, WJ., Atkinson, QD., & ­Sibley, CG. (2012). Group Size and the Trajectory of Religious Identification. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion. 51(2), 286–303 & Hoverd, WJ.,& Sibley, CG. (2007). Immoral bodies: The implicit association between moral discourse and the body. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion. 46(3), 391–403. Tim Jensen is Associate Professor (msk) & Head of Study, the Study of Religions, University of Southern Denmark, Honorarprofessor, Leibniz Universität, Abt. f. Religionswissenschaft Hannover. Senior Research Fellow, Ural Federal University, Ekatarinburg, Russia. 2015–2020 President, International Association for the History of Religions (iahr). 2005–2015 iahr Secretary General. Specialized in ancient Greek religion, Jensen later turned towards comparative religion and public discourses on religion, towards recent religious pluralism and state handling of religion in Denmark, including the handling of religion in re in public and private state supported schools. Lene Kühle is professor (with special responsabilities) of sociology of religion at Aarhus University, Denmark. Her research areas include religious diversity, religion and state, religious minorities, Muslims in Europe, radicalization and theories and methods of the study of religion. Her publications include Radicalization among Young Muslims in Aarhus (2010; with Lasse Lindekilde), ‘In the Faith of our Fathers? : Religious minority socialization in pluralistic societies’ Nordic Journal of Religion and Society, 25 (2), 2012: 113–130 and Religious diversity and p­ luralism. (with L. Ahlin, J. Borup, M.Q. Fibiger, V. Mortensen and R.D. Pedersen) Journal of Contemporary Religion,27 (3), 2012: 403–418. Her current research is on mosques in Denmark and legal regulation of religious minorities in Europe.

Author Biographies


Mar Griera is Associate Professor in the Sociology Department of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, and the director of the research group isor on sociology of religion. She has been visiting researcher at several universities (Boston ­University. Amsterdam University, University of Lausanne or Exeter University). She is currently directing a research project entitled ‘Urban religious expressions in Madrid and Barcelona’ funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science. She has just edited a special issue on religion & public institutions in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion (together with Wendy Cadge, Ines Michalowski and Kristen Lucken). Mar Marcos is professor of ancient history at the University of Cantabria, Spain. Her research interests lie in Roman history and the history of religions in the ancient Mediterranean, particularly in late antiquity. She has edited Tolerancia e ­intolerancia en el Imperio Romano (Madrid, 2007), Herejes en la Historia (Trotta, 2009), Conflict and Compromise. The Role of the Bishop in Late Antiqutiy, with Andrew T. Fear and José F. Ubiña (Bloomsbury, 2013). Her current research is on strategies to resolve religious conflict in the later Roman Empire. Henrik Reintoft Christensen PhD, is associate professor in sociology of religion at Aarhus University, Denmark. His research areas include the role of religion in the public sphere, and more specifically religion in mass media, politics and public institutions. His publications include Religion and Authority in the Public Sphere (2010), ‘Mediatization, Deprivatization, and Vicarious Religion’ (2013), and contributions to the chapters on media and politics in Religious Complexity in the Public Sphere: Comparing Nordic Countries (2017). Stefania Travagnin is currently teaching at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands. Her research explores Buddhism and Buddhists in mainland China and Taiwan from the late Qing up to the present time, religion and media in China and Taiwan, concepts and methods for the study of Chinese religions. Her publications include the edited volume Religion and Media in China: Insights and Case Studies from the Mainland, Taiwan and Hong Kong (Routledge, 2016). She is also director of the three-year project ‘Mapping Religious Diversity in Modern Sichuan’ funded by the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly ­Exchange (2017–2020), with Elena Valussi as co-director.


Author Biographies

Andreas Tunger-Zanetti is a senior researcher at the University of Lucerne, Switzerland, where he ­coordinates the Center for Research on Religion since 2007. He is co-editor of Debating Islam – Negotiating the Religion, Europe and the Self (Bielefeld 2013) and country rapporteur for the Yearbook of Muslims in Europe. His main research areas are Islam in Switzerland, religious buildings, religious plurality and the relation between religion and the public sphere.

Introduction: The Critical Analysis of Religious Diversity Lene Kühle and William Hoverd In 1997 Stephen Warner, in his Association for the Sociology of Religion (asr) Presidential Address complained about the “mostly nonexistent literature on new religious diversity in the United States” (1998, 193) though he noted “significant beginnings to fill that lacuna” (ibid.). In the 2003 Presidential Address, Robert Wuthnow, president of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion (issr), pointed to a “heightened religious diversity [in the United States] that posed a significant challenge to ways in which we, as ordinary citizens, think about religion or, as scholars, teach about it and could research about it” (2004, 161). The challenge was according to Wuthnow one of coming to terms with the religious diversity in different conceptual and scholarly ways, but it also raised questions regarding “the very ways in which we understand religion and about what it means to engage in the study of religion” (ibid.). In the years since ­Warner and Wuthnow made their presidential addresses, the study of ­religious diversity has increased considerably – not only in the United States, but around the globe. Indeed, the study of religious diversity has become an analytical lens or framework which a variety of scholars – from the study of religion, as well as other disciplines discuss how religion and issues around religion are understood. It is, however, also obvious that though many scholars are drawn to discussions on religious diversity for its importance of theorizing contemporary (or historical) social change, a lot of research takes its point of departure in the political concerns for the challenges of religious diversity (Dawson 2016, 2). Obviously, the concept of religious diversity is continually renegotiated and contested in highly politicised debates on societal cohesion, but it is also offers theoretical and methodological challenges in discussing a wide variety of topics ranging from Religious Diversity in Late A ­ ntiquity (Gwynn and Bangert 2010) to superdiversity (Vertovec 2007) and special strategies in European cities (Becci, Burchardt and Giorda 2017). Given that the term religious diversity (and its associated literature) was underdeveloped in the late 1990s, we should begin by considering how common the concept actually is in today’s religion scholarship? The impact of the concept of religious diversity on scholarship is striking, when we look to publications on over the last 20 years. A quick check of the usage of the word metrics in Google books (by the use of the tool Google Ngram Viewer) reveals that the

© koninklijke brill nv, leiden, ���8 | doi 10.1163/9789004367111_002


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number of books and articles which mention the concept of religious diversity has seen a steady rise for many years. This is in contrast with the concept of ‘secularization’ for which the publication usage peaked in 1968, declined in the 1970s and began to rise slowly again in the 1980s. And this is also in contrast to the publication usage of the phrase ‘religious vitality’ which reached the height of its popularity in 1960, but the usage of which has remained rather constant. Even if the concept of religious diversity is still not – according to Google Ngram – as often evoked as the concept of secularisation, the growth rate of its usage in recent years has been impressive. One should, of course, be careful not to conclude too much from this Ngram analysis, but a similar pattern is also illuminated through comparable searches in the largest database of peer-reviewed literature, Scopus. Research on religious diversity listed in Scopus is almost equally divided between the humanities and the social sciences. The Scopus search results cover many different contexts around the world research, but publications pertaining to religious diversity in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada are the most prevalent. Today, Warner’s ­1997-observation of a lack of scholarly literature on religious diversity in the U.S. – or elsewhere is no longer valid as the literature on religious diversity is now extensive. Religious diversity is discussed by scholars specialising in the study of religion, as well as, scholars of disciplines as diverse as law, geography and medicine. Yet the term “religious diversity” often goes undefined and is used in a generalised, sometimes even, haphazard manner. This volume takes its point of departure here – not in criticisms of how the concept of religious diversity has been used, but in an attempt to place a degree of conceptual thinking around what scholars consciously and unconsciously mean when they use the term. We have invited a number of scholars to contribute chapters that reflect upon their usage of the concept of religious diversity or their reflections on the methodological or theoretical challenges associated with the concept. Thereby, we attempt to do more than simply look at the term’s usage; we aim to critically engage with how the term affects the object of study, i.e. the rich v­ ariation in religious practice that abounds. Only then will the task of thinking about religious diversity in different conceptual and scholarly ways, formulated by Wuthnow and Warner, be properly addressed. But why does the conceptualisation of religious diversity constitute such a challenge? On an intuitive level, the meaning of religious diversity is clear. It means (something like) the existence of variations or differences in relation to religion. However, when we attempt to zoom in on a more precise definition, things become blurry. British sociologist of religion, James A. Beckford has argued that very different ways of conceptualising religious diversity exist and are used and useful in different situations. For example, in a situation of



a religious market, an indicator of religious diversity may be the number of religious groups or the number of persons adhering to (or being member of) different religious organisations (Chaves and Cann 1992). In other cases, the number of faith traditions or the existence of internal differentiation within major religious organisations or faith traditions may be the most used or useful way of representing religious diversity (2003, 74–75). Accepting religious diversity as a broad umbrella term is one solution. But by leaving discussions there, opportunities are missed in terms of considering which conceptualisations of religious diversity are most used and most useful to describe a specific situation. If, in fact, different conceptualisations of religious diversity exist, then each specific conceptualization utilised must be carefully considered. Indeed, special care should be taken when comparing religious diversity in and across different contexts especially when predefined universalised measures of religious diversity (i.e. categories of official statistics) are employed (Voas 2014). The available and commonly used conceptualisation may not be the most useful way of approaching a specific context or religious phenomenon. As Lori Beaman and Peter Beyer from the Canadian Religion and Diversity Project put it: “…the meaning and implications of the term diversity are contested. By this we mean that there is no single way to conceptualize diversity, and further, that there are consequences to naming diversity as something to be studied” (Beaman and Beyer 2008, 2). The necessity of bringing these consequences forward for scrutiny is the main argument of the current book. The call for a careful examination of the concept of religious diversity is a call to examine the origins and development of ideas of religious diversity and consider the consequences of these conceptualisations. Discussions on religious diversity often include details of the numbers of adherents of different religious groups collected by censuses or other official data collection methods. The close coupling of official statistics to the concept of religious diversity points to a number of further reasons for scholars of religious diversity to be alert (Krech et al 2013). The relationship between the concept of religious diversity and official statistics originates in early modern state building processes, the standard mid-nineteenth century advice from the International Statistical Congresses was to include a question about religion in the censuses in order best count and classify the population (Dixon et al 2009). In this way, measures of religious diversity became, in many countries, a tool for ruling the country and its population, though an important exception includes the us census, which has never asked such a question due to opposition from some religious groups (Thorvaldsen 2014, 210). Britain has also very been hesitant to include religion in official statistics after 1851 and before that it was included only in terms of church capacity. Interestingly, religion questions were i­ ncluded in the


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2001 and 2011 censuses. In the (former) British colonies, the initial reluctance to include religion questions was soon overturned and countries like Canada, New Zealand and India all hold strong traditions of including religion in official statistics (Fitzgerald 2014). In fact, pronounced interest in measuring and categorising religious diversity in colonial settings appears to be a general trend (Thorvaldsen 2014b, 7; Bader 2009). This raises the question of the power of classification in general – and in relation to non-western contexts in particular the question of possible Christian origins underpinning the concept of religious diversity. The concept has, however, also another heritage, namely the postmodern agenda of furthering an ‘erosion of discourses legitimising homogeneity’ ­(Harzig, Juteau and Schmidt 2003). The concept of diversity used in this tradition is far from the statistically framed understanding of religious diversity and may understand religious diversity not so much as the coexistence of different faith traditions, but more as the existence of diversity within faith traditions. The double legacy of the concept of religious diversity in official statistics and (postmodern) criticism of ­homogeneity entails the existence of very different methodological and epistemological approaches to religious diversity. Another source of confusion arises from the way the terms religious diversity and religious pluralism are often intertwined. Sometimes the two concepts are even used interchangeably; in other cases, religious diversity and pluralism are seen to belong to different domains (Machacek 2003). Wuthnow, for instance argues that: “If diversity is concerned descriptively with the degree of heterogeneity among units within a society, pluralism refers to the normative evaluation of this diversity and with the social arrangements put in place to maintain these normative judgements” (Wuthnow 2004, 162). Beckford likewise has been a stern advocate of making a distinction between different distinct, but overlapping meanings of religious pluralism warning against conflating “empirical religious diversity” with “normative ideas about the positive value of r­eligious diversity,” “frameworks of public policy” and “social relational context of everyday interaction” (Beckford 2014, 21). Giuseppe Giordan simply calls it an “error” when the meaning of pluralism is superimposed on the concept of religious diversity “as if they were synonyms” (Giordan 2014, 1). Instead, he suggests a distinction between diversity as “the descriptive level” and pluralism as “the normative-regulatory level”, while suggesting a move from religious diversity to religious pluralism when societies are trying to come with answers to ­religious diversity. The problems of language use are well detected by ­Wuthnow, Beckford and Giordan, but that fact that their suggestions on how to distinguish between the two differ, offers clear evidence that the conceptual issue has not been solved. In addition, the distinction



between religious diversity as descriptive and pluralism as normative appear slippery. Religious diversity as (for instance) defined as the coexistence of religious communities appears to be a descriptive concept, but it could also be seen as normative if the opposite of coexistence is ‘conflict and war’ or ‘parallel societies’. This becomes for instance clear in Thomas Bancroff’s definition of religious pluralism as “the diversity of different religious traditions within the same social or cultural space” (Bancroff 2008, 3). On these grounds, he goes on to define religious pluralism as “patterns of peaceful interaction among diverse religious actors – individual and groups who identify with and act out of particular religious traditions” and ends up with concluding that religious pluralism ends where violence begins (Bancroff 2008, 3). Also in public usage a clear distinction ­between religious diversity as descriptive and religious pluralism as evaluative may be evasive. In Canada – and in the uk as discussed by Andrew Dawson in this volume – the notion of diversity, has replaced pluralism or other concepts, as the main ­evaluative term used in public discussions (Bender and Klassen 2010, 10). It is also worth mentioning that conceptualisations of religious diversity – r­ egardless of the intention of the scholar – may become political tools when its measurement becomes an instrument that is actually employed to manage religious diversity, for instance by legitimating the various distribution of resources according to size (cf. Bouma 2014, 437–439). The relation between religious diversity and religious pluralism opens the door to a much broader range of discussions relating to the concept of pluralism as such. An early English language usage of the concept of pluralism was as a description of a situation where a Church of England cleric held two or more offices at the same time (Klassen and Bender 2010, 6). Later the concept of pluralism became central for debates in many disciplines, including Anthropology, Philosophy, Political Science, Theology and Law (Kühle 2004; Beckford 2014). In some cases, the concept of religious pluralism takes on highly specific meanings like in the discussions of religious pluralism by Theologian John Hick, where the concept of religious pluralism and Hughes is associated with a belief that there is more than one path to salvation (or God), in contrast to the position that truth is contained in just one faith tradition. In other cases, religious pluralism is seen as an expression of a more general societal pluralism, where ­religious pluralism is not specifically addressed (Berger 1999; 2014). Importantly, in this volume we begin our critical analysis of religious ­diversity with the assumption that the concept may hold different connotations in different discourses and contexts. Disciplinary differences may reflect ­disciplinary traditions in regard to issues of normativity, as well as different understandings of religion and of society. In some areas and discussions, it is highly positively charged and related to concepts like toleration, religious f­ reedom


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and multiculturalism, while in discourses on secularism, social c­ ohesion and state neutrality the term may take on a more negative tone. There are, all in all, quite a number of reasons why it is so difficult to get hold on religious diversity. From being a relatively specific concept most used by scholars of religion (mainly Sociologists and Philosophers of religion) with reference to modern western societies, it has now become a key concept in ­interdisciplinary, often politicised scholarly as well as public debates aiming to address and describe religious diversity as a historical and global phenomenon. It is certainly no surprise that the concept suffers from confusion and lack of clarity. Individual scholars try to bring clarity to the discussions, but the task at hand is immense. We suggest that the task at hand can be better addressed by a community of scholars.

The Critical Analysis of Religious Diversity Network

The idea of a network for the Critical Analysis of Religious Diversity (card) Network arose in 2011 when two editors of this volume had the good fortune to be hosted by the Religion and Diversity Project (rdp) at the University of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Headed by Canada Research Chair, Professor Lori Beaman, the Religion and Diversity project had been awarded seven years of funding devoted to the study of the contours of Religious Diversity in C ­ anada, as well as, the study of the implications of these contours for promoting a just and peaceful society. Inspired by the work being conducted by the rdp in ­Canada, Lene Kühle and William Hoverd, being scholars from small understudied Western nations (Denmark and New Zealand) with very different demographics, culture and geographies wanted to find a way to further ­understand the contextual nature of religious diversity in terms of our own nations and experiences. It was our observation that studies of religious diversity were, at that time, taking place within certain national contexts and utilising ­methods derived by the intuition of individual scholars. We felt that there was an ­opportunity to collectively analyse the methods with which these scholars are studying diversity within their own research and research areas. The card Network was formed when in 2012, Principle Investigator Lene Kühle, Aarhus University in association with Jørn Borup, Aarhus University, William Hoverd, Massey University and Tim Jensen, University of Southern Denmark were awarded a Danish Research Council Grant to fund a two-year study of the methods used to study religious diversity. The card network was a call to develop a reflexive understanding of methods applied to ­researching



religious diversity. We turned our attention towards an analysis of the ­processes by which scholars define religious diversity. We wanted to know what research methodologies investigators use to study religious diversity. We recognised that each country’s religious context impacts the categories which are being used to study diversity. We aimed to identify how context dependent these research methodologies might be and to what extent they could be decontextualised for others to apply to their own investigations of diversity. Moreover, we wanted to collect these methods together into one place where they could be utilised, critiqued and improved by the academic community. Thus, the goal of the network, and now this volume, was to identify these various research approaches and analyse their various strengths and limitations for future usage by other scholars in the field, as well as, to use this new knowledge to further our understandings of religion. The project’s ultimate goal was to attain a clearer understanding of how religion is being conceptualised, defined and policed by States and the scholars who study religious diversity within those nations (Smith 2006). Moreover, what we found in the end was that this question was insufficient, because we need also to consider how the empirical reality of religious practice is an additional, often confounding, factor to also be considered. The Critical Analysis of Religious Diversity Network was launched at a meeting in 2013 hosted by Jørn Borup and the Centre for Contemporary Religion, Aarhus University. In the first meeting, twenty-two scholars from around the world met to discuss how to conduct research on religious diversity in an intentionally critical and reflexive manner. The first meeting concentrated on assembling a wide variety of international scholars to explore the theme how to study religious diversity. The international focus was an attempt to think about a variety of global contexts of religious diversity, which included the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada, but was not dominated by the scholarship and assumptions about religious diversity drawn from these contexts. It asked participants to reflect upon the ways their scholarship constructed the social realities of religious diversity in the world. In particular, they were requested to identify and highlight what assumptions were they drawing upon when they developed their studies of diversity. card initially aimed to collectively analyse the context dependent methods that scholars are currently using to study diversity within their specific nations. We asked scholars to reflect upon the following ten methodological questions when presenting their work: 1.

Does your research use the term religious diversity, pluralism or both terms? Do you see the terms as distinct from each other?


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What methods are researchers currently using to study religious diversity? Are they using quantitative data, qualitative data, census data, or micro, macro, comparisons? 3. What are scholars finding to be the strengths and weaknesses of these methods for this research? 4. What artificial limitations and relationships have researchers assumed when using broad categories to define religious groups such as Buddhist, Christian and Muslim? 5. How have researchers treated individuals who profess multiple religious affiliations and those who associate their religion with their national or ethnic identity? 6. Is your research constrained by human rights discourses and law? 7. How is non religion being assessed? 8. How have numerically small religious groups been treated by researchers? 9. Are researchers finding that new categories and/or definitions of religious belief are necessary? 10. How have scholars addressed the relationship between the nation state and religious diversity in their context The first card Network meeting concluded that because religious diversity is a concept which is often used interchangeablely or in interplay with related concepts like religious pluralism, religious plurality, multi-religious or multifaith, and therefore discussion of conceptualisations of religious diversity cannot ignore these concepts. It asked ‘what are the c­ onsequences of applying these different terms and what happens if religious isn’t singled out, but is instead seen as a dimension of multiculturalism or ­general diversity or even superdiversity?’ Consequently, we found that the study of religious diversity also raises questions of how religious and religion is defined and who gets to define what counts as religion? And that the concept of religious diversity may refer to different diversities: i.e. the existence of a diversity of religious organisations, religious traditions or religious i­ndividuals? Furthermore, the network noted that in empirical studies there is always the question of research design and methods. Specific methods allow the researcher to see some things while overlooking others. Consequently, a topic of huge political salience for the study of religious diversity is the issue of how the political ­environment and media constructions of diversity may influence the categorisations we use in our scholarship. The network identified that a critical approach to religious diversity r­ equires awareness and self-reflexivity of the necessary choices being made in a research project. The prefix ‘critical’ is an often-used, but seldomly clearly defined



c­ oncept. This became obvious when a group of scholars in 2013 e­ stablished the Journal of Critical Research on Religion. The launching of the journal and in particular the 2015 April editorial, “How can mainstream approaches become more critical?” (Goldstein, Boer, King and Boyarin, 2015) prompted vivid debates on what ‘critical research on religion’ entails. The British philosopher Andrew Sayer has outlined five ways the term ‘critical’ can be understood. In a minimalist sense it is only taken to mean a questioning of older ideas, making every kind of research critical. A second understanding of critical refers to the reduction of illusions in society (Sayer 2009, 769). Central in this understanding of critical is a process of denaturalisation in which the concept’s (in this case religious diversity) air of being simple, natural, ‘given’ is scrutinised and brought into question. Sayer coined the concept ‘explanatory critique’ for the third position which identifies false beliefs and practices based on these beliefs and explains why these false beliefs are held (Sayer 2009, 770). Stronger conceptions of critical may encompass two other elements; orientation towards emancipation and a critique of suffering (Sayer 2009, 778). The card network has evolved independent from the journal’s content, but shares many of the concerns including the call for “new ways to unmask the processes through which we position our own intellectual tasks” (Goldstein, King and Boyarin 2016, 6). But where the Journal of Critical Research on Religion connects directly to the tradition of critical theory (and the more specific concepts of critical discussed and advocated by Sayer), the understanding of the concept ‘critical’ adopted in the card network after discussion at network meetings is connected to the less demanding concept of critical as implying denaturalisation. Some scholars may work with those deeper notions of critical suggested by Sayer. Unlike the scholars working with the Critical Research on Religion Journal, the card network is not advocating paradigm shifts. Rather we encourage scholars to share the reflections they are already making for the benefit of the scholarly community to enable an environment where, with Latour’s words in mind, research should not “in advance, and in place of the actors, define what sort of building blocks the social world is made of…” (Latour 2005, 41). Importantly, there is not one right way to study religious diversity, but we argue that there are research projects which are more considerate, more deliberate and simply better thought out. Thus, in order to encourage more robust – and more critical – research on religious diversity, it was decided to formulate a check list as a way of summarising some of the issues raised in the network’s discussions that might need to be considered in religious diversity scholarship. The Check List for Critical Religious Diversity Research, (See conclusion) produced by our network is a tool for any scholar engaging in research on religious


Kühle and Hoverd

diversity. The checklist is in no way intended as proscriptive, rather it should be a departure point that can offer a catalogue of issues worth considering when embarking on empirical studies of religious diversity. The check list was posted on the network’s website and it will be discussed in more detail and included as a tool for others to consider in their scholarship in book’s conclusion. With this contextual and reflexive groundwork established, the second card Network meeting was hosted by Tim Jensen and Odense University in the seaside town of Nyborg in June 2014. It aimed to further develop the findings of the first meeting in specific contexts. This included the construction and management of religious diversity in the domains of law, education and health. Moreover, it aimed to move the discussion into other contexts such as ancient history and Asian contexts to start to consider how broadly the term and study of religious diversity might be applicable. The second network meeting initiated work on the website gathering among other things literature on religious diversity and the checklist.

Overview of the Book

The content of the card network meetings constitutes the content of this volume. The book is divided into three parts. All sections hold a small introduction to the problematics addressed by the different chapters in the sections. The first section of the book i Theoretical and Methodological Issues consists of four chapters. The goal of the first section is to present a number of different critical approaches to religious diversity scholarship. The authors are present their method for studying religious diversity and reflect self-critically on how their use of concepts and choice of method frame religious diversity in particular ways. Chapter 1 (Beyer) presents a theory of how the concept of religion has developed parallel to a differentiation of a secular sphere applied with reference to a study of young adults of the first generation in Canada, Chapter 2 (Griera) presents religious diversity as organisations, while Chapter 3 (Hoverd and Kühle) presents religious diversity as individual adherence with reference to the question of censuses. Chapter 4 (Dawson) discusses fixed versus dynamic concepts of religious diversity under the framework of a revitalised conceptualisation of modernity as a fruitful way to approach religious diversity. The second section is called ii Religious Diversity in Non Western Contexts and addresses the question of non-modern and/or non-Western religiously diverse contexts. Chapter 5 (Marcos) finds similarities between contemporary and Christian apologetic discourses in the Roman Empire. Chapter 6 (Borup) argues that in Asia, religion has to a lesser degree than what is the case in the



West been pressed to conform to specific structures. Chapter 7 (Travagnin) questions whether it is possible to talk about religious diversity in China at all even if concepts of religious diversity are imposed by the government. The third section iii Religious Diversity in Societal Contexts concerns the representation of religious diversity in different societal spheres i.e. law courts, multi-faith councils, and education. It addresses how these societal representations and understandings of religious diversity may clash with academic conceptions. Chapter 8 (Tunger-Zanetti and Bauman) investigate the emergence of multi-faith councils in Switzerland and their construction of religious diversity. Chapter 9 (Bramadat) presents a case of controversy in the public sphere where the spheres of law, education and media overlap. Chapter 10 (Halafoff) investigate how the ‘challenge of religious diversity’ is handled in more or less successful ways by employing multi-faith and religious education initiatives respectively. Chapter 11 (Christensen) discusses the handling of religious diversity in research on media and religion. Chapter 12 (Burchardt) shows how the legal concepts protecting religious diversity compete with claims to other human rights in post-apartheid South Africa. In this section, it also becomes clear that scholarly conceptions do not necessarily have the upper-hand when questions of religious diversity become an issue of contest. Also that ‘bringing religions together’ whether in real life or for research purposes is not always easy. We conclude by bringing together the central aspects from the various chapters in the context of the Checklist. The Checklist is placed here rather than in the beginning to avoid reifying it. We want to keep it as a working tool, as well as, a work in progress. By putting the Checklist last we want to emphasise that the efforts to develop a research agenda for religious diversity with innovative theories and meticulous methods is only beginning to emerge. The conclusion thereby aims to initiate a discussion of the implications of moving away from just saying “religious diversity” to thinking about the term as an object of knowledge, power and social construction. The editors understand that this is no end in itself, but we argue that trans-contextual studies of these processes will lead to a greater critical understanding of the manner in which agency, power and language together construct the way in which scholars use the term religious diversity, as both an analytical device and as a descriptor for the way in which religion functions within a particular context. The concept of religious diversity is a concept of the public discourse as well as an academic concept. Not least in the current epoch of post-secularity, religious diversity has brought into civil society concerns of cultural and political challenges, some of which are directly related to conceptualizations, performances and discourses of the issue or religious diversity. Common scholarly questions regarding religious diversity ask how different religious groups can coexist


Kühle and Hoverd

­within n ­ eighbourhoods, workplaces, and nations. The study of religious diversity also raises questions of how religious and religion is defined and who gets to ­define what counts as religion? These questions have now become highstake political issues: Religious diversity brings with it concerns about how ­religious groups should ­participate within civil society. References Bader, V. 2009. “The Governance of Religious Diversity: Theory, Research, Practice.” In International Migration and the governance of Religious Diversity edited by P. Bramadat and M. König, 29–58. Montreal and Kingston: McGill – Queens University Press. Bancroff, T. (ed.) 2008. Religious Pluralism, Globalization and World Politics. Oxford: ­Oxford University Press. Beaman, L. and P. Beyer (eds.) 2008. Religion and Diversity in Canada. Brill: Leiden. Becci, I., M. Burchardt, and M. Giorda 2017. “Religious super-diversity and spatial strategies in two European cities.” Current Sociology 65 (1): 73–91. Beckford, J.A. 2014. “Re-Thinking Religious Pluralism.” In Religious Pluralism: Framing Religious Diversity in the Contemporary World edited by G. Giordan and E. Pace, 15–29. Berlin: Springer. Bender, C. and P.E. Klassen, eds. 2010. After Pluralism: Reimagining Religious Engagement. New York: Columbia University Press. Berger, P.L. 1999. The Desecularization of the World: Resurgent Religion and World P­ olitics. B. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing. Berger, P.L. 2014. The many altars of modernity: toward a paradigm for religion in a pluralist age. Berlin: de Gruyter. Bouma, G.D., & Hughes, P.J. 2014. “Using census data in the management of religious diversity: an Australian case study.” Religion 44(3), 434–452. Chaves, M., and D.E. Cann. 1992. “Regulation, Pluralism, and Religious Market Structure Explaining Religion’s Vitality.” Rationality and society 4(3): 272–290. Dawson, A. (ed.) 2016. The Politics and Practice of Religious Diversity: National ­Contexts, Global Issues. London: Routledge. Dixon, C.S., D. Freist and M. Greengrass. 2009. Living with Religious Diversity in early – Modern Europe. Farnhem: Ashgate. Fitzgerald, T. 2014. Religion and the secular: Historical and colonial formations. Abingdon: Routledge. Giordan, G. 2014. “Introduction: Pluralism as Legitimization of Diversity.” In Religious Pluralism: Framing Religious Diversity in the Contemporary World, edited by G. Giordan and E. Pace, 1–12. Switzerland: Springer. Goldstein, W., R. Boer, R. King and J. Boyarin. 2015. “How can mainstream approaches become more critical?” Critical Research on Religion 3(1): 3–12.



Goldstein, Warren, Rebekka King and Jonathan Boyarin. 2016. “Critical theory of religion vs. critical religion.” Critical Research on Religion 4: 3–7. Gwynn, David Morton and Susanne Bangert (eds.). 2010. Religious Diversity in Late Antiquity. Vol. 6. Leiden: Brill. Harzig, Christiane & Danielle Juteau with Irina Schmitt. 2003. The social construction of diversity. New York: Berghahn books. Klassen, P. and C. Bender (eds.). 2010. After Pluralism. Reimagining Religious Engagement. New York: Columbia University Press. Kühle, Lene. 2004. Out of Many, One: A Theoretical and Empirical study of Religious Pluralism in Denmark from a perspective of power. PhD from Det Teologiske Fakultet, Aarhus University. Krech, V., M. Hero, S. Huber, K. Ketola, and R. Traunmüller. 2013. “Religious Diversity and Religious Vitality: New Measuring Strategies and Empirical Evidence.” Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion 9 (3): 1–22. Latour, B. 2005. Reassembling the Social-An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory. ­Oxford: Oxford University Press. Machacek, D.W. 2003. “The Problem of Pluralism.” Sociology of Religion 64 (2): 145–161. Sayer, A. 2009. “Whose afraid of critical social science?” Current Sociology Journal 57(6): 767–786. Smith, G. 2006. “Religious Identities, Social Networks and the Power of Information: Fieldwork Issues in Mapping Religious Diversity in London.” Fieldwork in Religion 1(3): 291–311. Thorvaldsen, G. 2014. “Religion in the Census.” Social Science History 38(1): 203–220. Vertovec, S. 2007. “Super-diversity and its implications,” Ethnic and Racial Studies, 30:6, 1024–1054. Voas, D. 2014. “Afterword: Some reflections on numbers in the study of religion.” Diskus, 16(2), 116–124. Warner, S. 1998. “Approaching Religious Diversity: Barriers, Byways, and Beginnings,” Sociology of Religion 59(3): 193–215. Wuthnow, R. 2004. “Presidential Address 2003: The Challenge of Diversity,” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 43(2): 159–170.

Part 1 Theoretical and Methodological Issues

Introduction to Part 1 Religious diversity has become a topic of research for many different disciplines, but has a coherent research agenda of methods and theories emerged? In the introduction, we noted the calls emanating from leading scholars in the study of religion for a better understanding of the phenomenon of religious diversity. These calls came from Stephen Warner and Robert Wuthnow but also include interventions by sociologists of religion Peter Berger and Peter Beyer, who share the ambition to prioritise the study of religious diversity instead of the previous focus on secularisation as the key term for the study of contemporary religion. When it comes to disciplinary approaches, these four scholars could all be considered sociologists of religion. And it is tempting to hypothesize that while religious diversity is certainly a topic of key interest also in other disciplines, for the sociology of religion the interest in religious diversity is almost ‘existential’ as it connects to long-running discussions on how to restructure the discipline in the light of criticism of secularisation theories as its paradigmatic point of departure. However, to what extent has this sociological interest been translated into a research agenda with a shared theoretical and disciplinary point of departure? And further, to what extent have ‘exemplary’ theories or methods emerged? This transdisciplinary interest in issues of religious diversity may be illustrated by a quick search on the concept of religious diversity1 into Scopus, the largest database of peer reviewed journal articles, conducted in February 2017. Among the 12,196 entities in the data base about half (5,933) were categorised as social science, while 4,749 were listed as Arts and Humanities with Medicine (2,555), Psychology (1,090) and Nursing (671) further down the list, but still with quite a substantial number of publications especially given that religion is no obvious ‘traditional’ topic in regard to health research. The search, however, indicates that methods and theories do not appear very high on the agenda in the majority of these articles. If the search is limited to entities mentioning method or theory in the title and abstract the list is reduced to 4,145 (method), 5,791 (theory) and 2,642 (both), constituting about 22% of the total number of publications. The publications are well-dispersed among numerous disciplines and journals. The most important journal, Journal for the Study of Religion, actually only contains 25 entries followed by Journal of Transcultural Nursing (17), Social Science and Medicine (17) and Journal of Religion and Health 1 Search on Religio* AND Divers*; February 14th 2017.

© koninklijke brill nv, leiden, ���8 | doi 10.1163/9789004367111_003



(16).2 Tentative conclusions from this small search suggests that discussions of theory and in particular methods do not seem to be strong in the study of religious diversity and that the extant efforts to bring these issues forward are spread across many disciplines and journal specializations. Obviously, the articles indexed in Scopus do not exhaust the whole landscape of research on religious diversity. For one thing, Scopus only indexes English language publications and journals indexed belong to the more established. In several edited works (for instance Meister 2010; Blanes and Mapril 2013; Giordan and Pace 2014; Dawson 2016) but even more prominently in a number of thematic issues in different journals (for instance DISKURS 16(2) 2014; Religion 44(3) 2014; New Diversities 18(1) 2016; Approaching Religion 7(1) 2017) theory and method for the study of religious diversity is now being discussed. However, despite Wuthnow’s and Warner’s call for a systematic exploration of theory and method in application to religious diversity scholarship, the task is still to be thoroughly undertaken. The chapter authors in this section are all setting out to contribute to this still embryotic literature. Peter Beyer (Chapter 1) takes his point of departure in the ‘religion’ part of debates on religious diversity. It is well-known that the history of the concept of religion is strongly connected to the history of Christianity, but Beyer wants to emphasise the specific importance of what he calls the ‘Westphalian modeling’. By this he means the consequences that the Westphalian peace treaty, the treaty ending decades of European civil war following the reformation, had for ideas of what religion is. The ‘Westphalian modeling’ implied among other things that there exist several religions, adherents can belong to only one of these and that the ‘religiousness’ of persons may be evaluated by the degree to which they conform to official teachings of their respective religion. The point of departure of the work of Griera (Chapter 2) and then that of Hoverd and Kühle (Chapter 3) is the modernity of the concept of diversity. The two chapters both argue that the concept of diversity is strongly connected to processes of modern state-building, which, importantly exactly mirror the contents of the Westphalian modeling earlier emphasized by Beyer. However, both Mar Griera’s chapter and the chapter by William Hoverd and Lene Kühle document a clash between these ideas of uniform membership 2 As concepts of religious diversity and religious pluralism have often been used interchangeably you might thus expect more thorough discussions in works on these topics. If you add a requirement of inclusion of the term pluralism or plurality the number of references is down to 616, with 60% categorised as social science and 53% as Humanity and Arts. The most prevalent journal discussions are found in the Journal for the Scientific of Religion (10), the British Journal of Religious Education (9) and in Religion (6).



and the clear distinctions between different religions with what is a messier empirical reality. In the case of the project of mapping religious diversity in Catalonia, it was decided not to publish membership rates of the different religious minority groups, because the ideas of what it means to be a member of these religious groups were so diverse. In a similar project in Denmark, described by Hoverd and Kühle has only reluctantly published these numbers for similar reasons. Hoverd and Kühle point to how the tensions between concepts and phenomena is more visible in the Danish system, where the Danish state has employed inconsistent and changing understanding of religious diversity, than in the New Zealand system which utilizes a census which can, to some extent, accommodate diverse and changing concepts of religious adherence. Employing the terminology employed by Andrew Dawson (Chapter 4), the New Zealand census system which was originally drafted to measure ‘fixed diversity’, relatively stable and religiously exclusive ethno-spiritual identities, but is also developing categorizations of religious identification towards also including some amount of ‘dynamic diversity’, because of the dissolution of the previously clearly defined boundaries due to migration, detraditionalization and religious mobilization. According to Dawson, we can detect a general move from a situation in which ‘fixed diversity’ provide a good tool to think about diversity to a situation in which ‘dynamic diversity’ is also needed to describe the religious landscape. This move has tremendous consequences on both individual and societal levels. Dawson thus emphasizes how the move to dynamic diversity implies that a simple objective fact (that different religions are co-present) grows to have subjective significance (as a possible religious option for the individual). In this way, religious diversity cannot not only be conceptualized in different ways, it is also, in itself, a multi-level phenomenon. The ‘take-home’ lesson of the section is that theories and methods are strongly related in the study of religious diversity. That the concepts used to look at religious diversity, whether it is the distinction between Johnson and Grim’s ‘five main types’ of indexes used to measure diversity as discussed by Dawson or Beckford’s five different conceptualizations referred to by Hoverd and Kühle, are not just instruments of measurement. They are also part of the larger landscape of religious diversity itself and therefore something in and of themselves to be measured and analyzed. References Blanes, R., & J. Mapril, eds. 2013. Sites and politics of religious diversity in southern ­Europe: the best of all gods. Brill.



Dawson, A., ed. 2016. The politics and practice of religious diversity: national contexts, global issues. London: Routledge. Giordan, G., and E. Pace, eds. 2014. Religious Pluralism. Framing Religious Diversity in the Contemporary World. Berlin: Springer International Publishing. Meister, C.V. 2010. The Oxford handbook of religious diversity. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Thematic Issues ‘Religion and Superdiversity’ New Diversities 18(1) 2016 page_id=2575. ‘Religious  Diversity in Asia’  Approaching  Religion  7(1)  2017 index.php/ar/issue/view/159. ‘The Problem with Numbers in the Study of Religion’ DISKURS 16(2) 2014 http://dis ‘Making sense of surveys and censuses: Issues in religious self-identification’ Religion 44(3) 2014

Chapter 1

Religious Diversity, Institutionalized Religion, and Religion That is Not Religion Peter Beyer

Introduction: Conceiving and Constructing Religious Diversity

The notion of religious diversity and similar expressions, such as religious plurality and even religious pluralism, imply an understanding of the two terms, namely, what is “religious” and how this “religious” can be “diverse” or “plural”. The fact that this implication does not raise many immediate problems in most discussions of the issue today is presumably due to the fact that most of us involved already agree, more or less, on the meaning of these two terms. That said, the various disciplines involved in the study of religion, the religious, and religious diversity have also notoriously featured almost interminable debates on precisely this question, especially as regards the meaning of the first term, “religious” and its nominative form, “religion” (Clarke & Byrne 1993; Greil & Bromley 2003). Not only is there the very large and inconclusive literature on defining religion, on what does and what should count as religion or the religious; when one asks people outside these specialized realms what they understand these terms to mean, their answers will vary tremendously; although, when one looks more closely, not entirely arbitrarily. Moreover, embedded within these discussions, especially over the past few decades, is the related question about just how humanly universal that to which the concept refers actually is, and this in two regards: is the “religious” universal and are individual human beings universally “religious” or inclined to be so (cf. as examples McCutcheon 1997; Stark & Finke 2000)? One of the more well-known renditions of this combination of universalist understanding of religion and its critique is Talal Asad’s analysis of Clifford Geertz’s definition of religion (Asad 1993). As an anthropologist, Geertz tried very deliberately to formulate a definition that avoided using any specific, and above all broadly speaking “Western” manifestation or understanding of religion as either an implicit or explicit model. His definition does not include any reference to substantive elements like gods, spirits, or even transcendence; and it also does not speak of a specific social or psychological function, nor does it

© koninklijke brill nv, leiden, ���8 | doi 10.1163/9789004367111_004



use the distinction between sacred and profane (Geertz 1966). It is probably for that reason still one of the more popular definitions in work on religion that requires one. Nonetheless, Asad’s critique of the definition is cogent, above all in that it points out that any definition of religion has to assume that there is also something that is “not religion”; and therefore that it is inevitable that such a definition, as in Geertz’s case, will base itself on some particular model of precisely this distinction, which in turn begs the question of universality. To be sure, nothing in Geertz’s definition seems to require universality; but it leaves unanswered the question of why the distinction of religion from that which is implicitly not religion is being made at all. More pointedly, why is it important or even useful to distinguish religion in a society or in a person that does not make or use that distinction themselves? After all, one of the points/strengths of Geertz’s definition is that it makes as few assumptions as possible about the precise form that religion will take in order to be applicable to as wide a range of societies as possible, including those many that have no semantically ­corresponding term, that is, those that do not distinguish religion. We can probe this matter further with help from an analysis delivered ­recently by José Casanova (Casanova 2012). Addressing the question of what exactly constituted religion in the civilizations targeted in Karl Jasper’s Axial Age thesis (Jaspers 1953), and the relation of these civilizations’ axiality to modernity, Casanova suggests that it is only in the context of modernity that the distinction between religion and that which is not religion, specifically the secular, becomes the most important identifying distinction with respect to religion. By contrast, the critical distinction during the Axial Age might be seen as being that between transcendence and immanence; whereas in so-called pre-Axial civilizations one might see sacred and profane as being the most applicable one. Without for the moment judging the cogency of this evolutionary application of the most common distinctions used over the last century or two to talk about religion, Casanova’s suggestion is useful for my purposes here. It demonstrates how what we call religion today in a modern context can be understood as being present in societies that do not distinguish religion as something clearly differentiated, but that to do so the core identifying distinctions must be different. The sacred/profane and the transcendent/ immanent distinctions can operate without there being anything clearly understood as differentiated religion present, yet they nonetheless bear a close relation to religion such that one can use them to define religion. Thus the Axial civilizations, according to Jasper’s thesis and developments of it such as those in Shmuel Eisenstadt’s work (e.g. Eisenstadt 1986), could feature the idea of transcendence distinguished from immanence in the form of what we today understand as religion – for example, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism – or not,

Conceiving and Constructing Religious Diversity


for example in Greece or, arguably, in China. And famously in Durkheim’s work (Durkheim 1965), the sacred/profane distinction was integral to a definition of religion developed primarily with reference to what would have to count as pre-Axial societies without distinct religion – in his case, Australian Aboriginal societies – but was also designed to understand a modern “secularized” society in which the new modern religion, the Cult of Man, would not be distinguished as religion, and certainly not as “a” religion. Considering Geertz’s definition in light of Casanova’s three-part analysis, it becomes all the more evident how the absence of the transcendent/immanent and the sacred/profane dichotomies works to enhance the universality of the definition because both of these are particular possible specifications, not what “religion” is necessarily always about. Thereby, however, it becomes much clearer how the remaining dichotomy, religious/secular, operates as the implicit defining distinction: ­religion is not the secular; or, to put it more pointedly, religion is not non-religion. Casanova’s analysis can also take us a step further towards being able to historicize this issue. It takes up an important theme that has emerged from the more recent Axial Age debate and which has been developed by Robert Bellah and Merlin Donald (Bellah 2011; Donald 2012), among others. The key assertion here is that, in the course of societal evolution, the earlier achievements are not lost in later developments, nor are they displaced, let alone aufgehoben in the Hegelian sense. Thus pre-Axial ways of understanding world continue into the Axial Age civilizations; they are not eliminated, but rather supplemented by new developments. In Donald’s language, the theoretic is added to the mythic (and before that, the episodic and mimetic) and the two modes of knowing continue henceforth together, not with the former subsuming the latter, but more or less independently without one being in any consistent sense more important than the other. Following this logic, the modern age can be conceived as adding its own peculiar development, which neither supercedes nor eliminates the Axial and pre-Axial modes of knowing and communication, but rather adds to them. Using Casanova to translate this into religious terms, this means that inasmuch as one can characterize the Axial as having added the transcendent/immanent distinction to the already achieved sacred/­profane distinction – the theoretic added to the mythic – the peculiarly modern contribution has been to add the differentiation of religion from the secular to the previous two core distinctions. Religion in this sense is therefore an entirely modern concept. Yet the modern understanding based on this religious/secular distinction does not thereby displace or entirely subsume the older ones; one might rather say that it simply complicates the issue. In different words, in  the modern age, religion as distinguished from the secular is not simply an upgraded version of the transcendent distinguished from the immanent



which, in turn, was not simply an upgraded version of the sacred distinguished from the profane. Religion – now read only as modern religion – will incorporate both those older distinctions into the core of its operations, but that does not mean that it will subsume them: the operation of the ­transcendent/ immanent and the sacred/profane distinctions can and do still occur to a significant extent even outside the religion/secular distinction. Either can still operate in the secular, not just in and through the religions; just like the sacred could ­before still operate in the immanent, and the transcendent could also be profane.

A Historical Narrative: Religion, Religions and the Secular Domain(s)

Given the evolutionary way in which this argument is framed, we can express it in terms of historical narrative as well. The civilizations of the Axial Age did not distinguish religion as a distinct sphere over against a contrasting secular one, but they did all feature much that we moderns cannot help but see as religion. This is why we in modern times can observe them as having been the cradles of many of our modern “world religions”, at a limit, Judaism, ­Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Daoism, and (if we persist in seeing it as one) Confucianism. Often Axial Age discussions will add Zoroastrianism. Notably missing are of course Christianity and Islam, and it is precisely here that we can begin to see the development of the modern distinction, albeit again mostly with hindsight. As Daniel Boyarin (Boyarin 2007) and others have cogently argued, the development of the Christian religion included some rather, at that time, unique features, including a high degree of organization that included both specialist and “lay” people/roles, a correspondingly clear distinction between what we would now call the religious and the secular – for instance, “Give unto Caesar …” and in Augustine’s distinction between the two Cities – and a selfidentification as a “religion” over against others, for the longest time, (Roman) Paganism, the religion of the Jews, and somewhat later but with equal force, Mohametanism/Islam. The concept and institutional reality of “church”, both as organized entity and as social collectivity, was critical here. A similar argument can be made for the rise of Islam, which also, from early on, developed a strong sense of religion (din) as system (nizam) and as social collectivity (ummah); and of Islam as one of several religions, notably the religions of the other “peoples of the book”, but also, in practical terms, others. By contrast, the religious/secular distinction was significantly less clearly developed in this context and the organized aspect was largely missing.

Conceiving and Constructing Religious Diversity


The peculiar features of Christian religion especially could have turned out to be not especially significant. As it became the dominant religious expression on European territory after the definitive end of the Roman empire, the identifying contrasts in all three respects just mentioned appear to have become muted: the church became more and more a virtuoso institution with “lay” or “popular” religion contrasting more and more sharply with monastic and clerical religion – indeed, the word itself came to be primarily associated with what the virtuoso did, not what lay and popular strata did (Despland 1979; Feil 1992; Harrison 1990); the identification over against “other religions” became muted as paganism disappeared, Jews were a tiny minority, and there was little social encounter with Islam; and the religion/secular contrast manifested itself with less clarity, whether in Byzantine “caesaropapism” or Western “Christendom”. That situation, however, changed gradually starting somewhere around the 11th and 12th centuries. On the side of Christian religion, the church asserted itself more and more as an independent entity, distinct both from the political and stratified social structures, while at the same time gradually trying to monopolize religion – i.e. having only church religion count as proper religion – through clarification of its “orthodoxy” and through progressive attempts to (re)incorporate the laity and “reform” popular religion (Délumeau 1983; ­McGuire 2008; Taylor 2007). This process necessarily meant the clearer distinction of religion from “the world”, the secular, both theologically/­semantically and socio-structurally or institutionally; but the aim was to construct this secular in subordination to the religious, to lend the secular only a derivative identity, one might say. The peculiar form that this took was for the church to model itself and develop institutionally as also a state, as one and the superior of “two powers” or societies, the subordinate and secondary of which was to be the “secular” or temporal state embodied as a plurality of monarchs with their corresponding realms (see Berman 1983). The religious/secular distinction was critical for this development. In the event, however, what eventuated from this greater institutional differentiation of religion was thereby from early on a parallel and symbiotic differentiation of that “secular sphere” and within the category of the secular: namely, the development of various non-religious institutional domains with, as it turned out, similar “monopolistic” ambitions over their respective domains. The political state – the temporal power – was the most evident of these, but over time so were just as clearly the domains of positive law, empirical science, and monetary, eventually capitalist, economy (Huff 2003; Tilly 1992; Wallerstein 1974–1980). Moreover, in this context, the 16th century Reformation, with its institutional pluralization of religion and eventually Westphalian coordination of the religious and the state pluralities, led to the redeployment and elaboration of the idea that religion, like the state,



expressed itself in principle and in practice in the form of mutually delimited religions; and organization was again a vital aspect that helped carry these semantic and institutional transformations, in all the mutually differentiating domains, including religion. European imperial expansion, beginning also in the 16th century, eventually led to the globalization of this way of understanding and doing society, albeit in a very complex and varied way that was much more than simply d­ iffusion or imperial imposition/projection. The many local appropriations and responses to imperial and colonial European power and modes of knowledge on the basis of local histories, structures, traditions and modes of knowing have transformed the European starting points, around the world and in the initial spawning ground of Europe itself. For this reason, one can indeed speak, with Eisenstadt, of “multiple modernities” (Eisenstadt 2002), rather than a single “modernity”, with the semantic and institutional development of these differentiated domains comprising one of the constitutive features of what all these modernities have in common.

Modern Religion: Religion, Religions, and Religion That is Not Religion

Although this process manifests itself perhaps most clearly in the form of the now worldwide and encompassing system of sovereign (nation-) states, also quite evident is the development of a global religious system on the basis of the religion/secular distinction and in the form of religion as manifesting itself primarily as multiple mutually identified religions (Beyer 2006). It is important to understand how these two features inform each other. The imagining and construction of religion and religions as a distinct, internally differentiated domain was informed by, and also informed to a significant degree, the development of the modern state system, which in turn was significantly enabled through developments in the religious system, as just outlined. What I have elsewhere tried to describe as the emergence and then dominance of Westphalian modeling (Beyer 2011) – referring to the European 17th century Peace of Westphalia solution to post-Reformation violence – saw the somewhat, but also far from simple, isomorphism of the development of a worldwide political system of multiple sovereign states and a worldwide religious system of multiple mutually identified and recognized religions. In what Charles Taylor has analyzed as the “age of mobilization” (Taylor 2007), a period corresponding rather precisely to the modern centuries from the 18th to the 20th (and to some extent even before; see Gorski 2003), we see a situation develop in

Conceiving and Constructing Religious Diversity


which the world’s people are deemed to be doubly incorporated and doubly identified as “belonging” to one of many nations, peoples, states; and “belonging” to (normally) one of many roughly corresponding religions. The peculiar understanding and social construction has had and still has a number of important consequences, not least in how we in the contemporary world, among scientific and other elites certainly, but also among a very large proportion of ordinary people, perceive religion and religious diversity. Here are some of the most important consequences: first, as noted at the outset, while we tend to be rather imprecise about what exactly religion is, there appears to be a broad consensus that this religion manifests itself in the form of a series of identifiable religions, in most instances what I like to call the R5 (parallel to the G8 of states), but also including a locally variable list of other religions such as Sikhism, Daoism, Shinto, Jainism, Zoroastrianism, and quite a few besides. In spite of some academic protests to the contrary (­Fitzgerald 2000; McCutcheon 1997; Smith 1991), the “religions” appear to most of us as real and clearly demarcated. They constitute almost invariably what we mean when we talk about religious diversity. Second, we tend to think of people in the world as being adherents to normally just one of these religions, or none at all. We recognize that the majority of the world’s people are by their own admission adherents of a religion, but also that a great many are not adherents of any of these religions in particular. Both subjectively and objectively, however, we tend to think of these latter people as having “no religion” at all, even if only a minority of them are express atheists, that is, declare themselves as such. In other words, no religion in ­particular does not necessarily mean “outside the realm of religion”. In fact, in some parts of the world, notably the countries of East Asia, it seems to be rather more normal to consider oneself as having no religion (in particular) even if one also demonstrates characteristics of religious belonging or adherence such as belonging to religious organizations or participating in religious rituals. Third, and related to the second, we tend to judge the “religiousness” of ­persons – and through them of entire countries and regions – by the degree to which they conform to what we understand as the “requirements” or “orthodoxies/orthopraxies” of the religion with which they identify or are identified. Thus, for instance, a person who considers themselves Muslim but does not pray is considered by most observers as “less” religious – or perhaps even not religious at all – than a Muslim who does. A Hindu who performs puja and other devotions regularly is more religious than one who seldom bothers; a Sikh male who wears a turban and the 5 K’s is more religious than one who does not; and so forth.



Fourth, as already mentioned, we tend to understand religious plurality or diversity in terms of the religions: a place is religiously diverse when more or many of these recognized religions or their also recognized and denominated subdivisions are present, and less diverse and even “uni-religious” or “monopolistic” when they are not. Thus a country like Pakistan is considered to be religiously relatively homogeneous, namely Muslim, with but tiny “minorities” of other religions; whereas a country like the United States, in spite of the fact that it is (still) dominated by Christianity, is considered to be religiously very diverse primarily because of the presence of so many recognized and selfidentified subdivisions of Christianity. And so forth for other countries, cities, and regions. Fifth – and here is where things get truly interesting for my analysis – we also at the same time understand that matters are not quite so simple and straightforward. There is a general recognition, again both among observational elites and “ordinary” people, that there is, perhaps a great deal of, “religiousness” outside these bounds of the religions and their putative adherents. We tend, however, to use different concepts to talk about this “out of bounds” religiousness.1 There are, first of all, “bad religions”, for which the languages of the world generally now have a word, like “cult” in English, “secte” in French, or xiejiao in Chinese. Then there are a lot of practices, beliefs, and traditions that people who are deemed to belong to particular religions do but that are suspect in terms of their “orthodoxy”. Common terms we may use for these manifestations include “popular religion”, “folk religion”, “folk belief”, “belief system”, “superstition”, “magic”, or “culture”; but not simply “religion”. There are also a great many things that look to us like religion but which we cannot or do not want to subsume under one of the religions, often quite local traditions for which we might use various terms like “tribal religion”, the “religion” of certain peoples, “indigenous religions”, or, again, “culture”. Culture and its cognates in other languages is in fact a very common way to deal observationally with such “out of bounds” religiousness; sometimes “philosophy” is another, as occasionally is “discipline”. Another long-time cognate is the currently (increasingly) popular “spirituality”, a word that probably better than most of the others describes what might otherwise be simply “religion”, but that either its carriers or other observers wish to exclude from that which counts as religion. In many cases, it

1 A very interesting recent example is to be found in Fenggang Yang’s analysis of religion in China. There he distinguishes quite neatly and with good explanation between “full religion”, under which fall precisely “the religions”, and semi-, quasi-, and pseudo-religions, meaning precisely the range of phenomena I list here. See Yang, 2012, 37.

Conceiving and Constructing Religious Diversity


is precisely the systematic orthodoxies and orthopraxies that carry the specific names of the religions that are meant as the point of contrast. In slightly different words, “spirituality” is a positively valued way of designating “religion that is not religion” for which negatively valued terms also exist, including especially terms like “heresy”, “bidʿah”, or somewhat less severely, “mixin”. A sixth consequence takes the form of the secularization question. The differentiation of this religion and these religions from that which is not religion, namely the secular, does not by itself already answer the question of the relation between the two sides of this distinction; this relation is still a vexed question in our world as it has been in the intervening centuries. As indicated above, the at that time increasingly powerful medieval Christian church – here as an organized institution of specialists – took the religious/secular distinction as totalizing in the sense that it strove to have the secular define itself in its terms: as that which is not religion but which has meaning only as the defining complement to religion. One could call this the sacralization thesis. Later elite orientations, however, not only in Europe but also in most other parts of the world, interpreted the situation in reverse: the secular, in developing itself on its own terms – rationalization, progress, etc. – would in time have less and less need for religion and thus religion would be marginalized as no longer necessary and perhaps even disappear. Hence society would become a secularized society. This is the secularization thesis. In the current context, the issue is not which option is correct, but rather that either “solution” depends on this peculiar way that religion has been differentiated in modern society; the strength/ resurgence or weakness/decline of religion is mostly the strength or weakness of conceptually distinct and institutionally differentiated religion that manifests itself primarily as religions. Or at least the secularization question, much like the question of “religiousness”, is severely conditioned by that understanding of religion and religions. Most often, even today, we still try to decide the question by looking at and measuring this sort of religion. Are people still identifying with the religions? Are they still engaging in the beliefs and practices as defined by those religions? Well, then, that must be a non-secularized society. Are they, on the contrary, not identifying with any religion in particular – the religious “nones” – or are they not engaging in orthodox religious practice and believing orthodox belief? Well, that must be a sign of a secularized or secularizing society. The fact that most of us are also explicitly ambiguous about this way of approaching the issue; the fact that the secularization debate has been plagued with greatly varied ideas of what exactly secularization means and, in that context, what exactly should actually count as religion; these symptoms point again to the difficulty of simply seeing religion in this peculiarly modern way.



I am not going to rehearse all the vagaries of the secularization debate here. The crux of the difficulty can be seen, on the one hand, in Durkheim’s early and classic intervention (Durkheim 1965); and, on the other hand, in the current debate about ideas like the “spiritual revolution”, “lived religion”, and “desecularization” (see e.g. Berger 1999; Heelas et al. 2005; McGuire 2008). Durkheim famously posited a new form for religion, a “modern religion” which maintained the sacred as distinguished from the profane, but which was largely secularized in terms of “traditional” religion, here including both modern institutional religion and assumedly “pre-Axial” “tribal religion”. Durkheim’s use of the sacred/ profane distinction is instructive, in this context. I shall talk more about this in a moment. Durkheim’s approach dovetailed with subsequent debates about the definition of religion, especially in the distinction between functional and substantive definitions and could be seen as the foundation of analyses that understand all sorts of phenomena as religion, including, for instance, nationalism, communism, and “civil religion” (e.g. Bellah 1970; Hobsbawm & Ranger 1983; Kitigawa 1974). The point here, however, is that this positing of a change of form has always been considered to be the equivalent of positing secularization. Something analogous, but also somewhat different, is embedded in the idea that we are in the midst of a “spiritual revolution” (Heelas, et al. 2005), only here the change in form amounts to the posited ascendancy of, as I described it above, “religion that does not want to call itself by that name” because it is not, again, “traditional”, institutionalized and differentiated religion. Similarly, the “lived religion” orientation promotes an observational change, away from the institutional religions and their authoritative structures to the level of the individual or the non-authoritative group where the form that religion takes can and does vary across the boundaries that demarcate this religion that manifests itself as religions (Hall 1997; McGuire 2008). Finally, Berger’s “desecularization” thesis does not posit a change in form at all, but simply asserts that the institutional form of religion has returned or never declined in the first place: the world “as furiously religious as ever” (Berger 1999). What is perhaps somewhat surprising in all these positions is that they ­include a more or less consistent idea that there is in the order of a zero-sum relationship between the different forms involved (Marler & Hadaway 2002). According to the “classic” secularization thesis, the old form gives way to nothing at all or something that is really quite different and therefore doesn’t look like religion practically at all. The desecularization perspective simply denies this. The spiritual revolution and lived religion perspectives either posit a zerosum replacement of religion or suggest that “real religion” is in the alternative forms: this is a kind of “observational revolution”. What is far less often put

Conceiving and Constructing Religious Diversity


­forward is that the relation of these various forms might not be in any consistent relation at all; that there is, as it were, no basic or essential “religion” to which all these different forms might refer. This brings me back to Casanova’s analysis of the Axial Age thesis and Donald’s notion of the preservation of evolutionary achievements. To recall, the basic assumption is that different ways of knowing are not reducible to one another, nor are they simply variations on some fundamental orientation. Accordingly, episodic, mimetic, metaphoric, and theoretic ways of constructing knowledge are not in some sort of simple hierarchic relation, whether cybernetic or not, in which the one which is historically or evolutionarily prior is thereby a “primitive” form of that which comes later. In particular mimetic knowledge – expressed for instance today in dance or musical ­performance – is not a simpler or more primitive form of mythic knowledge – expressed, for instance, in concrete stories with actors –, which in turn does not have this relation to theoretic knowledge. Accordingly, whether or not one can reliably map the sacred/profane distinction onto the mythic mode of knowledge or the transcendent/immanent distinction on the theoretic form – the latter relation is definitely implied in the Axial Age thesis – the logic of historical/evolutionary progression and non-reducibility of one to the other can probably be applied quite well to the case of religion. The difference is, of course, that the knowledge-mode progression does not have a characteristically “modern” form of knowledge, whereas the religious progression does in the form of the religious/secular distinction. Applying this set of ideas to the contemporary and modern situation of ­religion, how we have constructed, globalized, observed, and judged it, differentiated religion that has the religious/secular difference as a key organizing distinction can be expected to vary on its own, including in how this religion may also incorporate or translate the other two distinctions, sacred/profane and transcendent/immanent, as well as perhaps others such as ­purity/­pollution, auspicious/inauspicious, permitted/forbidden, and so forth. That variation will manifest itself through the many religions that are its primary institutionalizations. These will incorporate these other distinctions differently if at all. But it will also manifest itself in the variable strength of the sort of religion that is the religions. In other words, it will manifest itself through the degree of “sacralization” or “secularization” of the society. Both these variations will also be relatively independent of how the other two major distinctions operate in that same society; because neither has been “overcome” in the passage to modern religion. Therefore, if the other forms of “religion” that arise in the various theories of secularization or religious revolution/transformation are



indeed “growing”, this does not mean that the religion that differentiates itself as religion from the secular is waning. This latter may wax or wane irrespective of what happens to these other forms outside of the religions. The appearance that it is doing so may be a simple artifact of observation: as we see the institutionalized forms declining in various places and in various ways, we may just notice these other forms more because they do not appear to have been subject to the same change or because they are more visible in the relative absence of the institutionalized form. Looking at the same relations in reverse, the rise of differentiated and institutionalized religion and its religions need correspondingly say little about the “quasi”, “pseudo”, “semi” or simply “other” religious forms that organize themselves around the sacred/profane, transcendent/immanent or other putatively religious distinctions. These other forms may also vary independently, and their “religious diversity” will be quite different because they do not have the systematic forms that the religions do; their variation may be like all that we subsume under the word culture: almost uncontrollably varied. And indeed, seeing this diversity as parallel to cultural diversity may be quite helpful. Or their variation may appear as just simply individual, and the question of who “belongs” to such religious forms will appear as comparatively nonsensical. Correspondingly, we will not be able to use the same criteria as we have developed for “the religions” to measure it, to appreciate its relative strength or weakness, to analyze and understand it. And the reason for this is quite simply that, in the current historical circumstances, these forms are, institutionally speaking, not religion, at least not religion that can be distinguished from the secular.

A Concrete Illustration: Young Adult Canadians of the Second Generation

All this is of course a very abstract analysis, but it is an abstract analysis that can be quite easily moved to the concrete on hand of some specific illustrations drawn from the world around us, in which this complex set of “religious” knowings and doings operates. For this purpose, I draw on the results of some of my own empirical research in Canada among the second generation of post1970s immigrants to that country. This research is the source of good illustrations to a large degree because the primary purpose of the research was not to explore these questions, but rather to get a better understanding of how this subpopulation was relating to institutionalized religion, specifically the religion(s) of their family backgrounds to which they had had significant exposure while growing up. What I want to draw from these data specifically is

Conceiving and Constructing Religious Diversity


how this “religion that is not religion” shows up in such circumstances, and specifically its independent variation, its independent diversity in relation to the institutionalized religion. Briefly, the research data consists of about 300 individual interviews with young adults from their late teens to early thirties, all of whom have at least one parent who is an immigrant. They largely have postsecondary education and live in one of the six largest cities in Canada, from Vancouver to Montreal. Their religious backgrounds include the full gamut of religions available in Canada, including the R5 and Sikhism. In terms of personal identification, they include those that do identify with one of these religions and a significant number who do not, and these have a range of alternative identities. Therefore, while the interviewees are certainly not a representative sample, they can be seen to represent a broad section of the Canadian population of immigrant families in their age group and, by extension, of people like them all around the world. In terms of religion and religiousness, they represent a great deal of diversity, both in terms of the identified religions and in terms of these other forms that I have just discussed. The first thing that one can observe about them is that the vast majority not only identify with one of the standard religions, they do so exclusively and singly: most profess to belong to one and only one religion; and those religions were Christianity (in most of its standard subvarieties), Islam, Hinduism, B ­ uddhism, and Sikhism. For accidental reasons having to do with research design, there did not happen to be any Jews in the sample. The religious i­dentification patterns of the research participants thus conform to standard expectations along the lines of the institutionalized religion way of understanding the religious and its diversity. This dominance of exclusive and single religious identification does not, however, exclude greatly diverse ways and degrees of adhering to the standard beliefs and practices of these religions; it does not exclude the possibility of multiple religious identities – although, of course, these are comparatively few – and it does not exclude at times refusal to identify with any religion, including declaring oneself atheist. In this context, I should emphasize, that these interviews were done with people who live in a cultural context in which it is perfectly acceptable to say that one does not identify with a religion, even to declare oneself atheist; but it is also perfectly acceptable to declare oneself and to be religious. One can therefore be reasonably assured that, by and large, on the question of religious identity, the pattern of responses was not overly biased by the cultural expectation of certain kinds of answers; but it was influenced by the research design because the names of the religions were mentioned in the recruitment texts. That should be born in mind as I describe them further.



While identification with one of the religions was thus quite high, the level of actual carrying out of these religions varied greatly, and this in two major respects. First, there was, with two exceptions, great variation in what was described as belonging to these religions. The majority for all but two religious identities, when asked to describe what being Hindu, Christian, Buddhist, or Sikh meant, gave greatly varying responses, often not those that one would, for instance, find in standard world religions texts. The exceptions to this rule were most Muslims and most Evangelical Protestant Christians. They tended to tell a rather consistent and orthodox narrative of what it meant to be a Muslim or a Christian, sometimes in such a way that one got the sense that they knew they were telling the story as it should be told, not necessarily the way they personally always believed and lived it. Second, there was also great variation in precisely this last respect: how and to what degree they actually believed what their religion supposedly taught and practiced what they believed to be the standard practices of their religion. A great many were quite “occasional” about such things, choosing their beliefs “à la carte” and participating in rituals and other performances selectively and from occasionally to never. Put briefly, the diversity in religious identification did not begin to tap into the diversity in translating these identities into their “lived” realities. As noted before, our prevailing way of understanding this diverse situation is to consider those who told the standard narrative and performed the religions according to perceived “orthodox” standards as being more religious, more Muslim, Christian, Hindu, etc. than those who do not. But if we look at the overall picture of these religions as differentiated social institutions, then the “occasional” practitioners and “à la carte” believers may actually be contributing substantially to the reproduction of these religions on the basis of their occasional performances. Given a large enough population and even if a majority of the nominal adherents to the religions are such occasional practitioners, there would still be a rather substantial presence of these religions in society simply on that basis. This would only appear as significant secularization, or loss of religion, if the basis of comparison is a society where most people are “regular practitioners”, something that in modern society may only have been the case for a relatively short period during the modern centuries, and not in the “traditional” past – except perhaps in one of the other forms of religiousness that I just talked about. In that regard, and looked at somewhat in reverse, quite a number of the participants related to their religions much more in what some of them referred to as a “cultural” way. They were not particularly regular practitioners, but felt that they were nonetheless adherents of their religion for cultural r­easons: they were born into and grew up in a Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist or

Conceiving and Constructing Religious Diversity


Sikh family. They participated in things associated with those religions for such cultural reasons, things like going to church, to the temple or gurdwara, participating in family pujas at the home shrines, fasting on certain holidays, attending the graves of the ancestors, and so forth. But they did these things for cultural reasons, because that is what it meant to be part of their family, part of their cultural group; and not necessarily because they subscribed to the religious beliefs in gods, spirits, etc. that such participation implied religiously. One might say that the culturally religious people were of the sort that belonged without believing. The upshot of such a cultural way of being religious, however, is that it becomes more difficult to say whether this significant group of people is practicing religion at all; whether they are not actually just reproducing cultural practices similar to, for instance, cuisine or food ways, dance, art, and family practices. Such religio-cultural practices might just as easily be seen as analogous to other cultural practices, for instance, memorial services for people who died in wars or celebrating a national holiday. In similar ways, they could implicate a distinction like sacred/profane: set apart and treated specially, as opposed to not. Or the distinction between transcendent and immanent: pointing to something beyond themselves and the ordinary, something with a higher and more ultimate meaning. They may only appear to us as religious because of such implications and because of their frequent association with the differentiated institutional religions. Moreover, in the context in which they occur, these practices in which they engage could contribute to the reproduction of the religions, even though that may not be the intention of many of those who are performing them. But this need not be the case either. It might also be added, in this regard, that almost all the participants were quite clear that religion and culture were not the same thing, but that they nonetheless often overlapped, sometimes to the point that it was difficult to say precisely what exactly the difference was. The religio-cultural mode, as understood by many of these participants, tended to include all of the three ­distinctions – sacred/profane, transcendent/immanent, religious/secular – without thereby culture being seen as religion or religious. Matters are just as ambiguous when we introduce the idea of spirituality into the discussion. The vast majority of the participants understood what this term meant. A great number of these declared there to be a distinction between spirituality and religion, and most of those that did located the spiritual as an individual, variable, experientially based and personal relationship with some more ultimate transcendence, whether this transcendence was conceived as religious or not. Religion, by contrast, was collective, based on an outside authority, and involving regular prescribed rules and practices, both moral and ritual. Many were quite clear that one could be spiritual without



being religious and vice versa. A significant number declared themselves to be “more spiritual than religious” or “spiritual but not religious”, and yet most of these did identify with and participate in the activities of a specific institutional religion. Spiritual but not religious meant more often that, first, the spiritual/personal/individual was more important and, second, that it could be expressed in the terms of one or more religions. Spiritual expression could be a wide range of orientations and activities not associated with any religion, things ranging from dancing to sports, from artistic performance to casting horoscopes, from communing with nature to watching television programs. Sacred/profane or transcendent/ immanent could be seen to be operating here to identify what they meant by spiritual, but not directly religious/secular. And religion in such distinctions almost always meant rather precisely one or more of the institutional religions that are distinguished from the secular. Moreover, among the religiously involved, for instance the religiously devout Christians, Hindus, Muslims, etc., most participants also drew the distinction being spiritual and being religious, and usually on the same basis: the spiritual was the individual, variable, and experiential whereas the religious was the collective, regular and authoritative. Some of these religiously involved did say that there was no difference between religion and spirituality, but most understood the difference and insisted either that one could be both at the same time, or that one had to be both at the same time even though they were different. Another way of describing the range of orientations that these interviews displayed is to arrange the respondents along a scale from those that were antireligious atheists to those that were ardently and exclusively religious through only one of the religions. While most of the religiously involved and the few express atheists could quite easily be located on such a scale, a good section of the people in between could only be so located at the risk of losing sight of much that they did and believed that had “something religious about it”, but not in the standard forms as represented by the institutional religions. The idea of “culture” and “spirituality” were two terms that participants used in order to describe this “not religion but something religious about it” that I have been calling alternate forms. In this regard, three other terms occasionally cropped up, whether among the institutionally religious or those who declared themselves to be not religious. One of these was superstition, often used in the familiar sense of something sort of religious that other people did or believed – generally parents or grandparents – but that was not proper knowledge and was essentially silly or foolish as a result. A second was philosophy, which, by contrast, was usually seen as either a superior or an alternate way of knowing that again was introduced as similar or at least cognate with religion, but not the same thing;

Conceiving and Constructing Religious Diversity


it was outside of religion or religious only in an indirect sense. Interpreting just a bit, one could say that philosophy appeared to be introduced into the discussion as an explicitly theoretic way of knowing whereas religious knowing was more clearly seen as of the mythic sort and sometimes mimetic sort. A third, related term was science. Almost invariably, however, when science was put forward as a mode of knowing in relation to religion, it was generally – but not always – put forward by people who considered themselves to be not religious, and often atheist. Science was a superior way of knowing how the world really worked, and it was not religious; it was secular. What is then overall instructive about what was said in these interviews is that they show us a set of “ordinary” people who also wrestle with the various distinctions and concepts that I have been discussing. By and large, they conceive religion and live religion in the generally accepted way as consisting of a distinct realm of human knowing and doing that manifests itself in the form of distinct religions and over and against that which is not religion, namely the secular. Most of them are quite positive about this religion; very few reject it, whether they consider themselves inside it or not. The prevailing attitude was also very accepting of the religious diversity that these religions manifested. Yet, for a great many of them, there were also important things that fell outside the category and realm of religion which nonetheless bore a strong relation to religion; and these forms – here mainly discussed under culture and spirituality – were not distinct and clearly demarcated as were religion and the religions. These other forms that, as it were, cut orthogonally across the atheism to religion scale were diverse in their own way, but in a continuous way in the sense that one could and did do these things very differently, not in a discrete way as manifested in the diversity of the religions and their sub-variants.


What can we conclude from all this? Perhaps the main conclusion is that the understanding of religion and religious diversity in our world takes place only in our peculiar context and that that context is severely conditioned by the historical construction and conceptual imagining of religion in a very particular and contingent way. When we look for religion outside those bounds, therefore, we should always be aware that we are operating in a social space where religion is constructed and imagined in such a way as to be distinguished from its other side, which here is the secular. And the secular, as the other side of religion, can and will appear to have a kind of religious quality because it is identified in relation to the religious. As, for instance, in the contemporary



idea of “secular humanism”, to identify something as the opposite of religion makes that something take on seemingly religious qualities. Therefore, when we look for alternate forms of the religious such as in religion giving way to spirituality or being subsumed in culture, we have to be aware of two things: first that without the “discipline” of differentiated religion in the form of ­religions distinguished from the secular, almost anything outside this sort of religion may ­appear as religious because distinctions such as sacred/­profane or t­ ranscendent/­immanent can and do operate outside that frame and not just inside it. Second, once we leave the realm of the identified religions as the manifestations of religion and find religiousness in other forms, then the question of religious diversity will take on entirely new dimensions. Then ­everyone can be seen as having their own religion, and this can change for an individual over time; but that is the conceptual equivalent of no one having any religion, and therefore perhaps ultimate secularization, if this term had any meaning anymore once we engage in this operation. Another way to express the same conclusion is to say that, for the time being, until we develop a new socially operative – that is, effective – vocabulary that does not depend on religion as we have historically constructed it, religious diversity is probably best and perhaps inevitably going to continue to be understood in terms of “the religions” and their subdivisions. What seems “religious” outside these bounds will not thereby lose significance and interest. One would assume quite the opposite. Yet this religiousness outside the bounds will with great difficulty be understandable under the idea of “diversity” because, aside from using the individual to discern the units of this diversity, little else is currently available to demarcate the socially operative subunits that might define it: such s­ubunits are ­currently not sufficiently differentiated. References Asad, T. 1993. Genealogies of Religion: Discipline and Reasons of Power in Christianity and Islam. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press. Bellah, R.N. 1970. Civil Religion in America Beyond Belief: Essays on Religion in a PostTraditional World. New York: Harper & Row. Bellah, R.N. 2011. Religion in Human Evolution: From Paleolithic to the Axial Age. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Belknap. Berger, P.L. (Ed.). 1999. The Desecularization of the World: Resurgent Religion and World Politics. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans. Berman, H.J. 1983. Law and Revolution: The Formation of the Western Legal Traditions. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

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Beyer, P. 2006. Religions in Global Society. London: Routledge. Beyer, P. 2011. “Religious Pluralization and Intimations of a Post-Westphalian Condition in a Global Society.” In Annual Review of the Sociology of Religion, Volume 2: Religion and Politics, edited by P. Michel & E. Pace, 3–29. Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers. Boyarin, D. 2007. Border Lines: The Partition of Judaeo-Christianity. Philadelphia: ­Univesity of Pennsylvania Press. Casanova, J. 2012. “Religion, the Axial Age, and Secular Modernity in Bellah’s Theory of Religious Evolution.” In The Axial Age and Its Consequences, edited by R.N. Bellah & H. Joas, 191–221. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press and Harvard University Press. Clarke, P.B., & P. Byrne 1993. Religion Defined and Explained. London: St. Martin’s Press. Délumeau, J. 1983. Le Péche et la peur: La culpibilisation en Occident, XIIIe–XVIIIe siècles. Paris: Fayard. Despland, M. 1979. La religion en occident: Evolution des idées ed du vécu. Montreal: Fides. Donald, M. 2012. “An Evolutionary Approach to Culture: Implications for the Study of the Axial Age.” In The Axial Age and its Consequences, edited by R.N. Bellah & H. Joas, 47–76. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Belknap. Durkheim, É. 1965. The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life (J.W. Swain, Trans.). New York: Free Press. Eisenstadt, S.N. (Ed.). 1986. The Origins and Diversity of Axial Age Civilizations. Albany, NY: SUNY Press. Eisenstadt, S.N. (Ed.). 2002. Multiple Modernities. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction. Feil, E. 1992. “From the Classical Religio to the Modern Religion: Elements of a Transformation between 1550 and 1650.” In M. Despland & G. Vallée (Eds.), Religion in History: The Word, the Idea, the Reality, 31–43. Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press. Fitzgerald, T. 2000. The Ideology of Religious Studies. New York: Oxford University Press. Geertz, C. 1966. “Religion as a Cultural System.” In Anthropological Approaches to the Study of Religion, edited by M. Bainton, 1–46. London: Tavistock. Gorski, P.S. 2003. The Disciplinary Revolution: Calvinism and the Rise of the State in Early Modern Europe. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Greil, A.L., & Bromley, D.G. (Eds.) 2003. Defining Religion: Investigating the Boundaries between Sacred and Secular (Vol. 10). London: Elsevier Scientific. Hall, D.D. (Ed.) 1997. Lived Religion in America: Toward a History of Practice. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Harrison, P. 1990. “Religion” and the Religions in the English Enlightenment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Heelas, P., Woodhead, L., Seel, B., Szerszyinski, B., & Tusting, K. 2005. The Spiritual Revolution: Why Religion is Giving Way to Spirituality. Oxford: Blackwell.



Hobsbawm, E.J., & Ranger, T.O. 1983. The Invention of Tradition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Huff, T.E. 2003. The Rise of Early Modern Science: Islam, China, and the West (2nd edition). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Jaspers, K. 1953. The Origins and Goal of History. New Haven: Yale University Press. Kitigawa, J.M. 1974. “One of the Many Faces of China: Maoism as a Quasi-Religion.” Japanese Journal of Religious Studies, 1(2/3): 125–141. Marler, P.L., & Hadaway, C.K. 2002. “Being Religious” or “Being Spiritual” in America: A Zero Sum Proposition? Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 41(2), 289–300. McCutcheon, R.T. 1997. Manufacturing Religion: The Discourse on Sui Generis Religion and the Politics of Nostalgia. Oxford: Oxford Univeristy Press. McGuire, M. 2008. Lived Religion: Faith and Practice in Everyday Life. New York: Oxford University Press. Smith, W.C. 1991. The Meaning and End of Religion. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press. Stark, R., & Finke, R. 2000. Acts of Faith: Explaining the Human Side of Religion. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Taylor, C. 2007. A Secular Age. Cambridge, MA: Belnap Harvard. Tilly, C. 1992. Coercion, Capital and European States, AD 990–1992. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell. Wallerstein, I. 1974–1980. The Modern World System. 3 vols. New York: Academic Press. Yang, F. 2012. Religion in China: Survival and Revival under Communist Rule. New York & Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Chapter 2

Counting and Mapping Religious Diversity: Methodological Challenges, Unintended Consequences, and Political Implications* Mar Griera


Religious diversity as such has not been a prominent topic of study in the ­social sciences until recently. The hegemony of the ‘secularisation paradigm’, especially in Europe, strongly influenced the research programme for religious matters in the latter part of the 20th century. The description and explanation of the declining power of the historical churches in Europe and elsewhere, and the emergence of individualised and privatised forms of religion/spirituality, attracted most of the research interest during that period. Minority r­ eligious expressions were not completely ignored, but were researched under the banner of so-called New Religious Movements (nrm). There were, though, a significant number of sociologists and anthropologists who focused on understanding the emergence and characteristics of what Max Weber called ‘sects’ (Wilson 1992; Beckford 1986; Barker 1984; Palmer 1996). However, these ­religious communities were examined mostly as case studies, isolated from their contexts, and perceived as marginal expressions of religion in an environment described as increasingly secular. Contemporary research on religious minorities has some similarities with nrm studies, but it is situated within a different academic paradigm. In ­essence, a new narrative that emphasises the vitality, globalisation, and diversification of religion in contemporary society has taken the place of the secularisation paradigm. As shown in the introduction to this volume, religious diversity has gained widespread currency in the social science literature of the last few years and a vibrant research programme on religious minorities, diversification processes, and the accommodation of religious diversity has emerged. In this context, studies of religious minority communities no longer consider * This chapter has benefited from helpful comments and suggestions from Lene Kühle, Wil Hoverd, Jørn Borup, Marian Burchardt, Maria Forteza, and Dean Wang. All errors remain my own.

© koninklijke brill nv, leiden, ���8 | doi 10.1163/9789004367111_005



these groups in isolation but as part of a broader field of changes occurring in the religious landscape. Notions such as religious pluralism or religious diversity serve more and more as explanatory labels in profiles of the contemporary religious setting. As Françoise Champion (1999) pointed out, the concept of ‘religious pluralism’ was very seldom used in France (as in Spain and most European countries) years ago but it gained traction, especially among the political, cultural, and academic elites, in the late nineties. She also maintains that the popularity of religious pluralism ‘is not automatically linked to actual changes stemming from growth in religious diversity’ but to a “change in ideology” (1999, 41). The significant increase in research projects focusing on counting and mapping religious diversity in Europe (Stausberg 2009) should be considered from this vantage. In Germany (Krech 2009), Switzerland (Monnot and Stolz 2014), Denmark (Qvortrup Fibiger 2009; Ahlin et al. 2012), Finland (Martikainen 2004), and Spain (Díaz de Velasco 2009; Fons et al. 2012) similar research projects aiming to translate diversity into numbers and to locate religion spatially (geocoding) can be observed. Interestingly, most of these projects arose independently despite the many similarities they share. The appearance of these projects could be read as a consequence of an academic but also a political paradigm change in regards to religion. For this reason, and in line with the card network objectives, it is important to raise awareness and critically examine the politics of map-making and the methodological approaches to religion. Thus, the broad aim of this chapter is to develop a reflexive understanding of the academic and socio-political implications and unintended consequences of methodological and epistemological choices in the study of religious diversity. More specifically, this chapter draws on the case of the Catalan Religious Map research project, whose objective is to provide complete information about all the minority religious groups in Catalonia1 through a combination of qualitative and quantitative approaches (Fons et al. 2012). The research project was commissioned by the Catalan regional government in the year 2000 and has subsequently been updated regularly. Joan Estruch, the leading Catalan sociologist, was the first director of the research project. I was a member of the research team between 2000–04, and was afterwards director from 2012–14 and from 2017 onwards. The project’s area of interest was the Spanish autonomous community of Catalonia, but as the Spanish government considered the project to be a success, it was replicated throughout Spain.2 1 See (last accessed, January 2017). 2 In Catalonia the project was funded by the Catalan regional government, but in the rest of Spain the project was funded by the Fundación Pluralismo y Convivencia, a public foundation

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Through the analysis of the methodological challenges involved in this research project, I will show the consequences of defining and explaining ‘religion’ in terms of public policy, and reflect on the political implications of the different research strategies and decisions. Thus the chapter will not provide a detailed account of the Catalan Religious Map itself, as this has already been done elsewhere (Estruch et al. 2004, 2007; Martínez-Ariño et al. 2010; Fons et al. 2012; Martínez-Ariño 2018), but rather will examine the conditions that gave rise to the project and reflect on the social and political implications of projects of this kind. This is framed theoretically within Foucault’s notions of governmentality and regimes of truth, complemented by the work of R ­ ose-Redwood (2006) and others on the critical analysis of knowledge production and governmental rationalities. The chapter is organised in three sections. Following this introduction is an outline of the theoretical approach to understanding the emergence of the research programme of counting and mapping religious diversity. The second section discusses the main characteristics and methodological challenges of the research project, with an emphasis on showing the consequences of the methodological choices. The third and concluding section is more reflective in nature and analyses the political implications and unintended consequences of the politics of map-making in the religious realm.

A Changing Paradigm: From Sects to Religious Minorities and from Secularisation to Religious Diversity

Religion has gained greater salience in political debate in recent years. The secularisation thesis has lost credibility among political and cultural elites, and religious minorities have increased their visibility in the public sphere. In most European societies, the governance of religious diversity, and especially of Islam, has acquired priority status for policymakers, a change involving the formulation and implementation of new policies in this area. The old order, based on a perception of religion as being an irrelevant dimension of society and organised politically around a stable state-church system, has been challenged in the last few decades. Religion has not only entered the political

that aims to accommodate religious diversity in Spain. The project was coordinated by the foundation, but carried out by local teams of sociologists and anthropologists in each region. The projects were then published as monographs, with the first volume of the series covering the Catalan case (Estruch et al. 2007).



agenda of most European national, regional, and local governments but has also been problematised. Not coincidentally, there has been a significant expansion in academic research on religious diversity all over Europe. To some extent, as Vertovec and Wessendorf noted, the political debate on religious affairs has ‘been accompanied by wide academic and public debates and controversies from diverse theoretical and normative perspectives’ (2006, 175). The growth of migration flows in recent years, as well as the arrival of new populations in Europe from the global south, has fostered the study of religious diversity, and especially of Islamic minorities. Obviously, the various terrorist attacks that have occurred in Europe, and the subsequent securitisation of Islam, have strengthened the perception of an urgent need to provide ‘reliable’ knowledge on religion to political authorities. Therefore, it could be said that there is a dynamic interplay between political conditions, social transformations, and the research agenda on religion in Europe. The notion of ‘policy paradigm’ serves to cover the changing policy approach to religious diversity and the role of scientific knowledge within it. As Peter Hall explains it, ‘…policymakers customarily work within a framework of ideas and standards that specifies not only the goals of policy and the kind of instruments that can be used to attain them, but also the very nature of the problems they are meant to be addressing’ (1993, 279). In recent years, a new policy paradigm has emerged around the notion of religious diversity, fomenting the development of a new policy field in this area. Not by chance, at the European as well as at national, regional, and local levels, new policy agendas on religious diversity have been cultivated. The new policy paradigm brings religion and diversity together, and hinges on the ideas of social cohesion, anti-radicalisation, and religious freedom(s) (Griera 2012; Dobernack 2010; Martikainen 2013). As Burchardt (2017) points out, in the last decade the ‘diversity paradigm’ has almost completely eclipsed the multicultural approach to religion all around Europe. Moreover, the diversity approach has become the lens through which policy problems and policy solutions are filtered, as well as becoming ‘embedded in the very terminology through which policymakers communicate about their work’ (Hall 1993, 279). To some extent, ‘in contemporary Europe, the most interesting and least researched entanglements of religion and neoliberal capitalism are meanwhile unfolding through pervasive discourses and policies promoting diversity’ (Burchardt 2017, 9). As Hall (1993) notes, during transitional periods when an old paradigm is failing and a new one is being born, the role and influence of ‘epistemic communities’ increases. Political authorities become more permeable to, and more

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dependent on, knowledge coming from the academic field. In these moments, scholars become important because they render reality ‘intelligible and, thereby, amenable to government’ by contributing to the development of ‘discursive fields characterised by a shared vocabulary within which disputes can be organised’ (Rose 1999, 28). Recent research on religious diversity has covered a wide variety of issues and is being carried out within multiple disciplines. However, despite this variety, most of the studies share some basic assumptions concerning the transformation of the religious landscape. In this regard, most current research on religious diversity takes for granted the general view that, in the contemporary world, religious diversification is growing, religious identities are becoming (re)vitalised, and that there is an increasing interplay between religion and politics at all levels of society. To some extent, after the epistemological crisis of the secularisation paradigm, a new diagnosis of the religious landscape has been gaining ground and a new consensus is being built, thus contributing to the rise of a ‘new regime of truth’ (Foucault) on the place and role of religion in the world today. The politics of map-making in the religious realm is of a piece with these new conditions. As already mentioned, several European, regional, and local governments have commissioned research with the aim of counting and mapping religious diversity. While there are some exceptions – such as the Community Religions Project (crp) in Leeds and Bradford (uk), which has been running since 19763 – most of the European projects focused on mapping religion have existed only since the early 2000s. This is not a coincidence. As RoseRedwood contends, ‘in examining the historical emergence of technologies of government, various governmentality scholars highlight the importance of cartographic mapping and the rationalisation of space as key strategies of governmentality’ (2006, 44). In this regard, Raco (2003, 77) argues that in order to understand how government is being constituted and how a new policy area is born we should focus on ‘the empirical practices of government’ instead of on ‘abstract theorisations’. Likewise, to understand the relevance of mapping in the governance of religious diversity, it is important to take into account the idea ‘that cartographic mapping not only represents “reality” but is a strategy for “acting upon the real” in order to govern the conduct of conduct’ (Blomley and Sommers 1999, 263–265, quoted in Rose-Redwood 2006, 53). The exercise of mapping involves demarcating territory spatially according to certain categories. Mapping is, then, intrinsically related to the process of classifying the world and producing numbers and statistics about populations. Social science reflections on the importance of classifying for organising, and 3 See (last accessed February 2017).



even producing, societies have a long history. In 1903 Durkheim and Mauss published the essay, ‘De quelques formes primitives de classification’, where they state, ‘For us, in fact, to classify things is to arrange them in groups which are distinct from each other, and are separated by clearly determined lines of demarcation’ ([1903]; 2009, 2). Moreover, by highlighting the social nature of classification they add: ‘the scheme of classification is not the spontaneous product of abstract understanding, but results from a process into which all sorts of foreign elements enter’ ([1903]; 2009, 5). Subsequently several other authors such as Mary Douglas, Michel Foucault, and many others have considered classifications, and their relation with practices of government, from a social science perspective. In the area of religion, Johansen and Spielhaus (2012) acknowledge that contemporary ‘quantitative engagement with Muslims in Europe’ ties in with this historical tradition of ‘mapping, surveying and evaluating specific populations as part of state administration’. The elective affinity between numbers and government can be explained because ‘numbers have the ability to abstract the complexities of life into manageable and communicable units, which can provide connections, clarities and causalities – and this clarity is among other things what makes them so suitable for decision making and governing’ (2012, 83). Therefore, systems of classification, maps, and statistics are key techniques that help to create ‘fields of intelligibility’ and develop policy sectors. In the case of counting and mapping religion, this knowledge facilitates, for instance, the design of public policies aimed at countering religious discrimination or the adaptations of public services such as hospitals, school canteens, or cemeteries for a religiously diverse population. Therefore, accurate knowledge of the religious composition of the population is crucial for fostering inclusive and accommodating policies towards religious minorities. However, at the same time, as Britain, Murdoch, and Ward (1997) explain, ‘technologies of knowledge production (e.g., statistics) do not merely describe an empirical reality but actually refashion that reality so as to fit the categories of the epistemological framework constructed in the first place’ (quoted by Rose-Redword 2006, 48). Hence, the impact of classification upon the lives of individuals is far-reaching, and this is what makes academic self-reflection on this aspect absolutely crucial.4

4 However, this can also conceal, as Jorn Borup has brought to my attention, the inverse, that having scholars counting and classifying but leaving numbers to speculation also takes place in contemporary societies.

Counting and Mapping Religious Diversity


The Catalan Religious Map: Origins, Objectives and Methodological Challenges

The Assignment In 2001 the Catalan regional government commissioned the isor (Investigacions en Sociologia de la Religió) research group at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona to create a database from which the country’s religious minorities could then be mapped. The commissioning of the project was among the first political measures of the recently created Ministry of Religious Affairs (now the Directorate General for Religious Affairs) of the regional government. The project was conceived as a strategic measure in order to identify the main actors in the field and collect accurate information on the country’s religious landscape. The request was inspired by a former project commissioned by the Barcelona city council in 1999, which was also carried out by the isor research group, that aimed to identify, describe, and map every place of religious worship in Barcelona (Griera 2012). However, there were several differences between the two projects. Firstly, while the Barcelona research project attempted to identify and map all religious groups (the Catholic Church included), the Catalan religious map included only religious minorities. The government considered it unnecessary to collect information on Catholicism as its status as a majority meant that it occupied a different position, and that the relations between the government and the Catholic Church had already been addressed through other channels. Furthermore, while the Barcelona project mainly sought to produce a snapshot of religious diversity at a single moment in time, the new project had been designed to be updated regularly in order to produce a dynamic portrait of the evolution of the religious map from the outset. Initially, the request was formulated in a very general way. The director of the newly created department on religious affairs explained it in the following terms: ‘We would like to develop a policy agenda on religious minorities affairs, but we have zero information about religious minority groups in the region’. At that time, there were no data estimates, not even a general list of the religious organisations present in the Catalan region, and this information was considered crucial for identifying political priorities. The Catalan regional government saw the mapping as the first step in designing and implementing a policy program on religious diversity. Therefore, the original purpose of the assignment was to answer very general questions such as the following: What religious minorities are there in Catalonia? Where are minority worship centres located? How many of them are there? What are their main characteristics? Who are their representatives/interlocutors? What ‘social tasks’ do they



­ erform? And finally, what are their main claims, demands, and concerns? p Thus, initially, the government’s purpose was to obtain a general descriptive portrait of the religious minority groups existing in Catalonia, as well as some additional information to be used for developing a policy agenda on religious diversity. The Context and the Project Genealogy Catalonia is an autonomous region of Spain in the northeast of the Iberian Peninsula that is bordered by France and Andorra. The region has a population of 7,522,596 (idescat 2016), mostly concentrated in the area around the city of Barcelona. In recent years, the number of immigrants living in Catalonia has increased greatly, rising from 2.9% of the population in the year 2000 to 16% in 2010 (Climent Ferrando 2013), and most recently, accounting for almost 14% of the population in 2016 (idescat 2016). This surge in immigration, originating mainly from Latin America, Morocco, and eastern Europe, drove a significant increase in religious diversity in a country that was traditionally Catholic. To understand the genealogy of the project, it is crucial to call attention to the specific policy context in which the project was conceived. Three main characteristics define the particularities that marked the creation and evolution of the research project. First, the project started at a moment when ­immigration numbers were growing fast and religious diversity began to become visible. As already mentioned, Catholicism historically dominated the Catalan religious landscape but secularisation trends were also very evident in the last decades of the 20th century, and at a much higher level than in the rest of Spain (Griera 2016). Additionally, at the turn of the 21st century many new places of worship, mainly belonging to religious minorities, were being built all around the country. This context saw the emergence of new challenges, some of them provoking considerable media and political debate, concerning the accommodation of religious diversity in a region where there had previously been no consolidated policy on religious affairs. Second, the project was initiated and conceptualised from 2000–02, when international views on religion were changing rapidly. The secularisation narrative was under intense scrutiny in academic but also social and political circles, which led to a new understanding of the role of religion in contemporary times. Additionally, the 9/11 terrorist attacks contributed to adding to even more political concerns over religion, and a ‘fear of radicalisation’ infused policymakers’ perspectives on religion – political authorities feared not only the revitalisation and radicalisation of religious identities, but also the growing relevance of far-right groups and messages that threatened social cohesion. To some extent, all of these factors served as an impetus for the carving

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out of a new role for religion in the policy agenda and pressured policymakers into considering religion, and especially Islam, when designing public policies (Bramadat 2008). In the case of Catalonia, a third factor must be taken into account. Since the democratic transition in the late seventies, and especially in the last two decades, the will for political independence from Spain has gained increasing social and political relevance. The claim for independence has usually been channelled through social movements but has also found expression through the regional Catalan government’s claiming of political jurisdiction over various policy sectors. To a certain extent, the foundation of a specific unit for dealing with religious diversity sprang from the desire to gain political jurisdiction over this policy area, which had traditionally belonged to the Spanish government. Thus, political moves were also motivated by the aspiration to achieve control over an area that was seen as gaining in political value and as a crucial influence in Catalonia’s future (Griera 2016; Burchardt 2016). Not coincidentally, years later, the Catalan regional government finally obtained official jurisdiction over religious affairs in 2006. Therefore, as explained elsewhere (Griera 2016) the politics of map-making in Catalonia appears to be intertwined with aspirations to independence and the building of a specific and singular imaginary of Catalonia. These three factors help to explain the favourable breeding ground for a research project based on counting, mapping, and depicting religious diversity. ­Additionally, the fact that policymakers considered themselves as ‘illiterate’ (­Bramadat and Koenig 2009) regarding religion, while also conceiving of the religious landscape as an area characterised by uncertainty – and sometimes described as a ‘minefield’ – enlarged the researchers’ role in this emerging policy sector. Mapping Religious Diversity: The Methodological Approach The meaning of religious diversity is not evident per se. As James Beckford (2003) stated, religious diversity can be understood in different ways, and can relate to slightly different meanings. Our research was based on a notion of religious diversity as characterising the existence of different religious groups in a specific territory. However, despite the simplicity of this definition, the formalisation and operationalisation of our methodological approach was far from straightforward. On the contrary, the development of a methodological framework involved many twists and turns due to unexpected empirical findings and the emergence of tensions between political and academic interests. The first and most complicated question in our research was to identify what the basic unit of analysis should be. In Spain, as is the case in many other



countries, the public census does not include data on religion, as it is forbidden on constitutional grounds. Instead, the Spanish government gathers data on religious organisations through a public register, the Registro de Entidades Religiosas (rer or Religious Entities Register). The rer includes information on the religious entities that have officially registered with the Ministry of Justice. Accordingly, examination of the rer data was our first step. However, it became clear almost immediately that analysis of the rer was not an appropriate way of approaching religious diversity, for several reasons. First, in the data gathered by the rer some groups were underrepresented while others were overrepresented. For instance, while the Jehovah’s Witnesses only appeared one time, as they were registered as a ‘single’ entity, Protestant churches appeared thousands of times as they usually register as separate entities. Second, the data gathered was not updated regularly, so that the information on the worship centres contained many errors. Third, there were entities that, for different reasons, were not registered in the rer but were present in other registers, or in some cases were not registered anywhere. Apart from the rer, there was no other official general collection of data on religious diversity or any academic or public research containing general information on the country’s religious diversity. There were only a few research monographs on some religious minority groups (Moreras 1999; Garcia Jorba 1991; Estruch 1968) but the information was very scattered and difficult to compare. For all of these reasons, after this initial exploration, we decided to start from scratch by outlining a four-year research project to identify, map, and profile the country’s religious diversity. Our methodological approach stemmed from the following decisions. On the one hand, we decided to design fieldwork based on identifying all (or the maximum number possible) worship centres in the region. Thus, we considered adopting worship centres as the basic unit of analysis for our research (Gómez Segalà 2006). In operational terms, as Martinez-Ariño (2018) notes, we conceptualised a ‘worship centre’ in a very similar way to Mark Chaves’s definition of a congregation as ‘… a social institution in which individuals who are not all religious specialists gather in physical proximity to one another, frequently and at regularly scheduled intervals, for activities and events with explicitly religious content and purpose, and in which there is continuity over time in the individuals who gather, the location of the gathering, and the ­nature of the activities and events at each gathering’ (Chaves 2004, 1–2). However, this premise was not without its problems as, sociologically ­speaking, what should count as a ‘religion’ – or as religious content – is not ­generally agreed (Asad 1993; Davie 2008). Additionally, as I will detail further, neither was it clear what should be considered as a worship centre.

Counting and Mapping Religious Diversity


We ­decided to ­follow a bottom-up approach based on carefully combing the region in search of the worship centres of minority religions, using a wide variety of information sources (city councils, neighbourhood associations, other civil society entities, ecumenical groups, and other sources) and a snowball strategy. Every time that any of our informants indicated the existence of a worship centre we personally visited it. On some occasions, the address ­given corresponded to a worship centre, but on many other occasions the address was wrong or the worship centre mentioned had closed or moved. This ­required time and patience but was considered necessary in order to collect reliable information. In addition, the discovery of a new worship centre ­usually facilitated the finding of many others. For nearly four years, three researchers, all sociologists – plus the research coordinator – worked full time to conduct extensive fieldwork to identify all the minority religious worship centres, interview their representatives, undertake observations of the main celebrations, and build a database from all the information gathered. The sampling for the territory of Catalonia was ­exhaustive, and the information on worship centres was complemented, afterwards, with information on religious minority ngos, associations, and other civil society initiatives (media, schools, hospitals, etc.). The process of data ­collection usually followed these steps: a) selection of an area or region; b) compilation of an initial list of worship centres through secondary sources and the snowball mechanism; c) contacting the worship centres by telephone, email, or personal visit; d) meeting the interlocutor designated by the worship centre (structured interview); e) observation of one or two activities; d) report writing; e) entry of the new information into the database. The outline of the structured interviews was adapted (the vocabulary and the type of questions) for each religious denomination but all of them included, as a minimum, the following data: 1) contact information (address, email, webpage, interlocutor information, etc.); 2) origin and history (international, national, or local); 3) member information (numbers, origin, languages used, etc.); 4) principal activities (religious and non-religious); 5) forms of organisation; 6) principal beliefs; 7) main concerns or claims to public authorities; 8) social work or other social, cultural, or public activities; 9) relations with other religious groups and civil society entities; 10) membership of main religious federations; 11) other questions.5 In parallel, observation of activities or 5 As already mentioned, the format of the interviews was adapted for each denomination, and questions were adjusted for each to suit each individual. This enabled us to compile a large amount of relevant information, which was afterwards used in in-depth studies on communities or areas of study (religious diversity in schools, hospitals, etc.).



religious events were recorded in a fieldwork diary and used to complement the report. Initially, all of the reports written were provided to the interviewees for them to revise and validate the information before it was entered into the database and submitted to the government. This was considered a necessary step to build trust between the researchers and religious minority interlocutors, and to guarantee ethical standards in the research. The experience was especially valuable in relation to those communities that had suffered stigmatisation for years as sects, such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses or the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, for example. This procedure was necessary not only for ­fostering a spirit of collaboration but also for producing accurate knowledge in a context were most of the previous reports or studies were written from an anti-cult perspective.6 However, while this procedure worked well with hierarchical organisations (such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses) or denominations with few worship centres in Catalonia (like The Seventh-Day Adventist Church), it proved to be almost unworkable when dealing with less hierarchical religious denominations such as Islam or Protestantism.7 In 2004 the first phase of the research was publicly disseminated, mainly through three channels: 1) a book setting out the Catalan religious landscape, the history of the minority denominations in Catalonia, and their main characteristics (Estruch et al. 2004) that was first published in Catalan and ­afterwards translated into Spanish (Estruch et al. 2007) a summary report profiling the Catalan religious map with tables, graphs, and maps that was primarily intended for the media and public authorities; and 3) a database with more than 1000 entries and detailed information on places of worship and religious minority associations. In the interests of privacy, the database information was confidential and could be consulted by only those with express permission. The public presentation of the research was a political event in itself. The regional government invited all the representatives of the religious groups 6 These refer to the ‘anti-cult’ policies promulgated in the seventies and that were popular until the nineties. As recounted by Miller (2016), anti-cult campaigns arose with the growing visibility of new religious movements in the seventies and sensationalist media coverage of these groups as brainwashing and co-opting of innocent (mainly young) people. This context favoured the emergence of several civil society organisations that tried to counteract the growth of new religious movements by denouncing and stigmatising them. Some governments, such as the French and the Spanish, also enacted public measures of this sort. Years later, most of these policies were considered to be a violation of the freedom of religion in addition to being based on unsound information (Lioger 2006; Griera 2012). 7 In these cases, the written report was only sent for validation when this was explicitly asked for or required by the interviewee.

Counting and Mapping Religious Diversity


to a public ceremony of significant political and media import. The research was seen as the first step toward policies recognising religious diversity in a country were minority religions had historically been marginalised – not only because the policies on religious freedom during Franco’s dictatorship were very restrictive but also due to the anti-cult campaigns sponsored by the government in the eighties and nineties. The results of the research showed 722 places of religious minority worship. These included centres for Protestant ­denominations (341), followed by the Jehovah’s Witnesses (141), and Islam (139).8 ­Geographically, most of the worship centres were concentrated in Barcelona and the surrounding metropolitan area, but there were some religions denominations – such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses – with different spatial distribution (Fons et al. 2012; Estruch et al. 2004). After the initial launch, new information was publicly disseminated in 2007, 2010, and 2014. During this period, the number of minority worship centres increased significantly, with those affiliated with the Protestant church (725) and Islam (256) experiencing the most growth. Beyond this public outreach, the research was also used for academic ­purposes, with several PhD theses using data gathered through the project (García-Romeral 2011; Martínez-Ariño 2012) and some studies complementing the information gathered (Fons et al. 2012; Griera 2013). Methodological Tensions and Dilemmas As previously noted, the methodological design was not free from tensions and dilemmas and it was necessary to find workable compromises between researchers’ views and governmental interests. The main tensions were along the following areas: a) the definition of religion; b) the translation of the research into numbers; c) the identification of interlocutors. The first dilemma that emerged related to the definition of religion. As mentioned above, the fieldwork made apparent the difficulty of defining, and delimiting, what should count as a religion and which groups should be included and which should not. The area of contention revolved around two questions, the first of which was: To what extent should we incorporate groups belonging to the ‘holistic spiritual milieu’ (Heelas et al. 2005) into the research project? It was debatable whether they should be considered as religious groups. To a 8 There were also other minority denominations such as Buddhist (28), Hindu (16), Adventist (12), Baha’i (12), Orthodox (8), Mormon (13), Sikh (5), Taoist (5), and Jewish (1). This proportion changed quickly due to immigration flows, and in 2014 the distribution was the following: Buddhist (68), Hindu (27), Orthodox (55), Adventist (24), Mormon (15), Sikh (10), Baha’i (9), Taoist (6), Jewish (4).



certain extent, the grey area in our society encompassing religion, spirituality, therapy, and culture has expanded, and the boundaries between these different spheres are becoming increasingly blurred. In addition, it is not only researchers who have difficulties in unravelling the precise nature of the phenomenon observed, but also the groups themselves, who can as well play (strategically or unconsciously) on this ambiguity (Griera and Clot-Garrell 2015). During our research, the doubt surrounding the definition of religion was clearly illustrated by the fact that, while there were some Buddhist groups that explicitly refused to be considered as a ‘religion’ and thus declined to participate in the research, there were other groups such as some pagan and Wiccan movements that expressly demanded to be included despite the fact that they were not initially considered. In this case, after the first public launch of the project in 2004, some pagan movements contacted the researchers asking to be interviewed and claiming to be a religion (and bringing ‘evidence’ to prove it). Taking this complexity into account, the research team opted to include not only all those officially registered as a ‘religion’ in the Spanish rer but also those that simply identified as such. On the definition of religion, the second question emerged when the government – advised by some anti-cult ­movements – suggested that some groups such as the Moonies or the J­ehovah’s Witnesses should not be included in the research (or at least, not in the public outcomes of the research). In this case, the researchers persuaded the government of the need to incorporate these groups by arguing that they were officially registered as religions and also, in the case of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, had a long history in the country and accounted for around 20% of the religious minority worship centres in 2004. The second dilemma related to the numbers. ‘How many are they?’ was the basic question that was asked and needed to be answered. However, as Ahlin et al. (2012) have already established, concerns surrounding questions of membership are not easy to resolve. Who should count as a member of a religion? As we could not rely on census data, we opted to ask religious representatives about their numbers. However, the data collected did not seem to be at all comparable, as the factors establishing membership were highly divergent. While there were groups that counted only those members who paid a monthly fee and attended almost every service, there were others who also counted people who came only on special occasions (e.g., Ramadan or the Amma Festival), and still others who provided a detailed list distinguishing between ‘sympathisers’, ‘irregular members’, and ‘regular members’. The provision of membership numbers also generated dilemmas in relation to the counting of children, double membership, or loose ties. All of these ­difficulties made it ­apparent that, from a sociological point of view, defining membership in a

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unified and comparable fashion represents a real challenge (and should maybe be declared an impossible task). To some extent, as Ahlin et al. note, ‘membership has become a very problematic concept, even a “zombie category”, in late modernity. This naturally results in problems of how actually to delimit and evaluate the strength of different religious bodies’ (2012, 414). In addition, it might be worth considering that the idea of membership is a category associated with modern societies and the emergence of membership organisations where legal privileges are linked to the status of being a member. In the realm of religion, membership is allied with individualism and, hence, with Protestantism. To some extent, ‘belonging’ has been suggested as a better category to capture adherence but this still entails difficulties for numerical translation. For this reason, we decided not to provide numbers on membership but only publish figures related to the number of worship centres. However, this was also somewhat discretional. In this regard, while there are worship centres hosted in private homes with no more than 10 people attending (e.g., some Protestant denominations and some Bahá’í groups), there are other places of worship where more than 600 people attend each week (e.g., some Protestant churches and some Islamic places of worship). Likewise, it was not clear what a ‘worship centre’ should mean. Is it a building? Or the community? Or both? In this regard, for instance, different religious congregations of the Jehovah’s Witnesses usually use the same Kingdom Hall. Congregations usually meet at different times, and members of one congregation hardly ever mix with those of another. Every congregation has its own dynamics and, in some cases, they are organised into linguistic groups (e.g., Catalan, Spanish, English, etc.). Therefore, while the Kingdom Hall, the religious building, could be counted as a single religious worship centre, in this case the congregation should be the unit of measurement. These dilemmas were part of the research and had to be resolved case by case. In any event, years later, it became evident that the number of worship centres does not proportionally account for the number of persons that self-declare as members of a certain religious denomination. As an illustration, while the Catalan Religious Map indicated that Protestantism was the ‘leading’ minority religion in Catalonia with 725 places of worship, and Islam second with 256, a separate extensive survey on religious self-identification revealed a different picture. In this case, Muslims accounted for 7.3% of the total Catalan population while self-declared Protestants added up to only 2.5% (­Centre d’Estudis d’Opinió 2014). This incongruence can be explained by multiple ­factors, which I will not go into here, but it is interesting to note that it further supports the ideas of ‘membership’ as a ‘zombie category’ and religious ­statistics as highly dependent on discretional definitions.



The third main dilemma related to the definition of interlocutors. Methodologically, we decided to contact the groups and then ask them who the key informant should be. We proceeded accordingly, but after some time we b­ ecame aware that there was a strong bias in our sample in terms of gender and age. The patriarchal and adult-centric nature of most religions made it difficult to overcome these biases. However, the sample was biased not only in these terms but that the interviewees were also usually representatives of the most ‘orthodox’ versions of their religion. Usually, the ones that are entitled to speak about or for a religious group are those that hold leadership positions within the organisation, and who are considered to best represent the ‘good believer’. Thus, they are not average members of a religious group but those that show a higher commitment to the community. In most cases, the informant was a ‘religious professional’ and, in some cases (and especially when the religious professional could not manage to communicate in Spanish or Catalan) the interview was conducted with a ‘prominent’ member of the community. This raised the eternal question of who is entitled to speak for whom, and to what extent government authorities should rely on the knowledge provided by ‘religious professionals’. In parallel, we wondered to what extent we as researchers would be contributing to the reification of the religious landscape if only the views of ‘religious professionals’ were taken into account, and to what extent the answers of these interlocutors reflected the complexity and nuances of changing religious conditions.

Final Reflections: Unexpected Consequences and Political Implications of Religious Mapping in the 21st Century

The counting and mapping of religious minorities has generated detailed knowledge of the composition and evolution of the country’s religious landscape. The dissemination of the research results has had a considerable impact not only on the development of a policy agenda on religious minority matters but also by fostering a new public imaginary on religious diversity. To some extent, the publication of religious diversity maps, and the regular updates of the data, has helped to counteract the idea of a ‘catho-secular’ (Morin 1990) region and has given new visibility to religious minority groups. The increased visibility and awareness of religious diversity was one of the primary objectives of the research project. To a certain degree, it might be said that this goal has been achieved. However, the major visibility of minority religions can be attributed not only to the impact of the research project but also to more general changes across the continent. From the ­beginning of the project in the early 2000s to today, the role and place of religion in E ­ urope

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have been transformed. The changing circumstances require further reflection in this conclusion on the project’s achievements and unintended consequences. According to our interviewees, the major problems religious minorities faced in the early 2000s were a consequence of anti-cult policies (Prat 1997) and the lack of public sensitivity towards religious minorities. Most of the ­religious interlocutors cited the public and political stigmatisation of religious minorities as sects as the principal obstacle to the accommodation of religious diversity. Researchers, and afterwards also politicians in charge of religious affairs, worked to avoid the use of the ‘language of sects’ and actively refrained from classifying groups in such a manner. As a result, the anti-cult policies were halted, with public authorities consciously deciding not to use the word ‘sect’ in public, and groups such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses and ­Mormons, who had encountered many problems years before, began to be invited to o­ fficial public events and considered on equal terms to other groups. In light of this, it could be said that religious minority groups have gained greater public recognition and, to a certain degree, this may be true. However, while today power relations are constituted along different lines, this does not mean that they have simply ceased to exist. Currently, almost no one stigmatises religious groups by calling them ‘sects’ but there is an increasing use – and abuse – of categories such as ‘fundamentalist’, ‘fanatic’, and ‘radical’, which have a similar effect in conversations on religion. To a certain extent, concrete boundaries are permanently negotiated, contested, and modified, but a boundary always exists between the legitimate and illegitimate. Decades before, the boundary was external to the groups, with some labelled as religions and others as sects. Today the boundaries exist within the groups themselves in divisive classifications within communities depending on how they are socially perceived. In our contemporary societies, the semantics of exclusion works by erecting a boundary between the ‘moderate’ and the ‘fundamentalist’. As a consequence, religious groups, and Muslim communities in particular, are constantly scrutinised publicly and compelled to show that they belong to the category of ‘good’ Muslims (Birt 2006). Given these conditions, the project of counting and mapping diversity and the consequent monitoring of the evolution of religious groups can be perceived to be a part of, or seen to operate in parallel with, the security (or securitisation) agenda. Research projects can easily be instrumentalised in the current political circumstances. This thus requires researchers to adopt a reflective critical gaze regarding how to collect, analyse, and disseminate the data as well as careful examination of confidentiality mechanisms to avoid the information being used for unintended purposes. The increasing saliency of religion in contemporary times has also become entwined with the governmental aim to ‘rehabilitate religion’ (Burchardt 2017) by framing religious groups as a source of purported solutions (Beckford 2015,



234) for a wide variety of social problems. As Beckford has noted, the neoliberal agenda has cultivated the involvement of religious groups ‘as partners in the delivery of various services and the development of social enterprise’ (2015, 234), and the promotion of ‘good religion’ as a strategy for fostering social cohesion. This has direct consequences for religious groups, as they ‘find themselves subject to increasingly intrusive monitoring and management by the state of their finances, activities, and capacity to be in partnership with [the state]’ (Beckford 2015, 232). From this perspective, the initial aim of the research project of making religious groups and their social tasks visible as a way of supporting recognition could also become a double-edged sword. Under certain circumstances, recognition lead to the instrumentalisation of religion. In this case, the utilitarian narrative can become a trap for religious minorities, as they are not recognized per se but only insofar as they are regarded as contributors to the social good. Therefore, they are included under the governance regime and considered as government partners in the building of cohesive societies. This might be empowering for minorities who were stigmatised by or invisible to the eyes of the government for many years, but it can also be a form of (direct and indirect) control and domestication. On the one hand, the inclusion of religious minorities in the governance regime subjects them to processes of bureaucratisation and accountability. For some minority religious groups, the consequences of these processes can be farreaching. The case of the Church of Philadelphia – which draws mainly from the Roma population – is illustrative in this regard. While this organisation has benefited greatly from this governance approach and has received public funding for carrying out social work within the Roma community,9 there have been some unexpected consequences. For example, the inclusion of the church in the social governance regime gave rise to new (and contested) leadership within the church; specifically, those who had the ability to negotiate with the government and the technical capacities to fulfil bureaucratic requirements were not the religious leaders, which created a double hierarchy that led to several i­ nternal conflicts. Likewise, this also generated public opposition by ‘secular’ Roma o­ rganisations, which claimed that they should be the legitimate partners of the government and not the church. On the other hand, increased ­visibility does not always guarantee greater recognition or, at least, the ­relationship between recognition and visibility is not straightforward. Therefore, while the mapping of religious diversity increases or improves the visibility of religious groups, the social and political dynamics of the media and public 9 The most important program has been the funding of a project to help churches to fight school absenteeism and early school leaving.

Counting and Mapping Religious Diversity


sphere ­filter this ­visibility. ­Additionally, while there are some groups that are ‘hypervisible’ and whose behaviour is constantly monitored and scrutinised – which, in turn, become a powerful mechanism for self-domestication – there are others that remain almost invisible to the public eye and publically judged and scrutinised much more lightly.10 An illustration of this is that, while the researchers and also governmental authorities disseminated the results of the religious maps by providing similar amounts of information on each religious minority group, the media coverage usually focused attention only on certain groups (especially by over-representing the growth of Islam in the region) and almost completely ignoring others. This was a powerful reminder that research is not done in a power-free context but in one with strong differential power between religious groups and vested with certain ideological stakes. These last considerations bring into focus the (unavoidable?) intertwining between the research, the political agenda, and the social context. The emergence of several research projects aiming to map religious diversity in Europe is not coincidental but a general response to the emergence of a new policy field revolving around the governance of religious diversity. To a certain extent, the politics of map-making has helped to depict and shape the meanings (and the limits) of religious diversity, as well as to make the religious landscape ‘­intelligible and, thereby, amenable to government’ (Rose 1999, 28). Governance cannot be considered in the abstract but rather needs to relate to particular actors and concerns. In the case of Catalonia, the research project on the religious map played a crucial role in identifying those actors and in clarifying concerns. However, inevitably, the establishment of a new policy paradigm has also set new limits and constraints, and introduced additional contradictions to the contemporary research on religion. This context makes continual reflection, and self-reflection, a necessary condition in order to become and remain aware of the political implications and (un)intended consequences of our ­research agenda. References Ahlin, L., J. Borup, M.Q. Fibiger, L. Kühle, V. Mortensen, and R.D. Pedersen. 2012. ‘­Religious diversity and pluralism: empirical data and theoretical reflections from the Danish pluralism project.’ Journal of contemporary religion 27(3): 403–418. 10

In this regard, see Griera and Clot-Garrell (2015), where we analyse how Muslim, Catholic, and new spirituality groups are perceived and considered differently in penitentiary institutions.



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Estruch, J., J. Gómez, M. Griera, A. Iglesias. 2007. Las otras religiones. Minorías religiosas en Catalunya. Barcelona: Editorial Icària. Fons, C., B. Luque, and M. Forteza. 2012. ‘El mapa de minories religioses de Catalunya.’ Revista catalana de sociologia 28: 0015–27. García Jorba, Juan M. 1991. ”Testimonis de Jehovà.” Arxiu d’Etnografia de Catalunya 8: 49–73. García-Romeral, G. 2011. ‘L’acomodació de la pràctica religiosa islàmica: Un estudi a través de les pràctiques funeràries a Catalunya.’ PhD Thesis., Departament de Sociologia, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. Gómez Segalà, J. 2006. ‘Quanta, quanta diversitat. Problemes pràctics en l’estudi de les comunitats religioses de Catalunya.’ Quaderns-e de l’ICA, 7. Griera, M. 2012. ‘Public policies, interfaith associations and religious minorities: a new policy paradigm? Evidence from the case of Barcelona.’ Social Compass 59(4): 570–587. Griera, M. 2013. ‘New Christian geographies: Pentecostalism and ethnic minorities in Barcelona.’ In Sites and Politics of Religious Diversity in Southern Europe: The Best of All Gods, edited by R. Blanes and J. Mapril, 225–249. Griera, M., and Clot-Garrell, A. 2015. ‘Banal is not Trivial: Visibility, recognition, and inequalities between religious groups in prison.’ Journal of Contemporary Religion 30(1): 23–37. Griera, M. 2016. ‘The governance of religious diversity in stateless nations: the case of Catalonia.’ Religion, State & Society, 44(1): 13–31. Hall, P.A. 1993. ‘Policy paradigms, social learning, and the state: the case of economic policymaking in Britain’. Comparative politics, 275–296. Heelas, P., L. Woodhead, B. Seel, B. Szerszynski, and K. Tusting. 2005. The spiritual revolution: Why religion is giving way to spirituality. Oxford: Blackwell Pub. IDESCAT. 2016. ‘Dades. Demografia i Societat.’ Institut d’Estadística de Catalunya. Johansen, B., and R. Spielhaus. 2012. ‘Counting deviance: revisiting a Decade’s production of surveys among Muslims in Western Europe.’ Journal of Muslims in Europe 1(1): 81–112. Krech, V. 2009. ‘What are the impacts of religious diversity? A review of the methodological considerations and empirical findings of a research project on religious pluralisation in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany.’ Religion 39(2): 132–146. Lioger, R. 2006. Une laïcité ’légitime’, la France et ses religions d’État. Paris: MédicisEntrelacs. Martikainen, T. 2004. Immigrant religions in local society: Historical and contemporary perspectives in the city of Turku. Finland: Abo Akademie University Press. Martikainen, T. 2013. ‘Multilevel and Pluricentric Network Governance of Religion.’ In Religion in the Neoliberal Age: Political Economy and Modes of Governance, edited by Guathier, F. and Martikainen, T. England: Ashgate.



Martínez-Ariño, J., Griera, M.M., García-Romeral, G., & Forteza, M. 2010. ‘Inmigración, diversidad religiosa y centros de culto en la ciudad de Barcelona’. Migraciones., (30), 101–133. Martínez-Ariño, J. 2012. Las comunidades judías contemporáneas de Cataluña. Un estudio sociológico. PhD Thesis. Barcelona: Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. Martínez-Ariño, J. 2018. ‘The Evolution of Religious Diversity: Mapping Religious ­Minorities in Barcelona.’ In Congregations in Europe, edited by C. Monnot and J. Stolz. Cham Heidelberg: Springer. Miller, T. 2016. ‘Are the cult wars over? And if so, who won?’ In Gallagher, Eugene V. (ed) ‘Cult Wars’ in Historical Perspective: New and Minority Religions. London: Routledge. Monnot, C., and J. Stolz. 2014. ‘The diversity of religious diversity. Using census and NCS methodology in order to map and assess the religious diversity of a whole country.’ In Religious Pluralism: Framing Religious Diversity in the Contemporary World, edited by G. Giordan and E. Pace, 73–91. Berlin: Springer. Moreras, J. 1999. Musulmanes en Barcelona: espacios y dinámicas comunitarias. Barcelona: Cidob Edicions. Morin, E. 1990. ”Le trou noir de la laïcité”. Le débat 58: 38–41. Palmer, S.J. 1996. ‘Purity and danger in the solar temple.’ Journal of Contemporary R ­ eligion 11(3): 303–318. Prat, J. 1997. ‘El estigma del extraño. Un ensayo antropológico sobre sectas religiosas.’ Ariel, Barcelona. Qvortrup Fibiger, M.C. 2009. ‘The Danish Pluralism Project.’ Religion 39(2): 169–175. Raco, M. 2003. ‘Governmentality, subject-building, and the discourses and practices of devolution in the UK.’ Transactions of the institute of British geographers 28(1): 75–95. Rose, N. 1999. Powers of freedom: Reframing political thought. Cambridge university press. Rose-Redwood, R.S. 2006. ‘Governmentality, geography, and the geo-coded world.’ Progress in Human Geography 30(4): 469–486. Stausberg, M. 2009. ‘Exploring the meso-levels of religious mappings: European religion in regional, urban, and local contexts.’ Religion 39(2): 103–108. Vertovec, S., and S. Wessendorf. 2006. ‘Cultural, religious and linguistic diversity in ­Europe: an overview of issues and trends.’ In The dynamics of international migration and settlement in Europe, edited by R. Penninx, M. Berger and K. Kraal, 171–199. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press. Wilson, B. 1992. The social dimensions of sectarianism: Sects and new religious movements in contemporary society. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Chapter 3

Constructing and Deconstructing Religious Diversity: The Measurement of Religious Affiliation in Denmark and New Zealand William Hoverd and Lene Kühle Official statistics are one of the most common sources used to describe and analyse the demographics of religious diversity within a nation. By official statistics, we mean collated demographic information drawn from administrative sources, vital registration, population census and social survey data collected by the Statistical bureaus and Ministries (Bulmer 1980). Official statistics play an important role in state as well as scholarly descriptions of religious diversity and generally hold positions as ‘social facts’. Official statistics however are more than a mere ‘objective’ descriptions of the religious landscape. Official statistics construct religious diversity and an important methodological question for any critical analysis of religious diversity is to consider how statistics are constructed and for what purposes (Wilkinson 2011). There is methodological variance across contexts in how official statistics collect data in terms of headcounts, households, individuals and the treatment of children. Official statistics vary in how they deal with new religions, some are easy to categorise, and others, while somewhat useful for statistical purposes, are fairly problematic when it comes to understanding what that statistical grouping means for understanding religious diversity. The purpose of this chapter is to provide a critical reflexive approach to national level religious diversity statistics by undertaking a comparison of affiliation data from Denmark and New Zealand. Our aim is to demonstrate that the method/s chosen to collect national data have consequences for our scholarship because the numbers produced both influence and construct the way in which we conceptualise religious diversity and the questions we ask of that data. Both of our chosen countries are small Western nations. New Zealand had, in 2013, a population of some 4.5 million, whereas Denmark was slightly bigger with a population of 5.6 million (numbers from the World Bank). Both countries are western welfare states. Both were overwhelmingly Christian countries at the end of the 19th century and statistics still describe them as ‘Christian countries’, if by this we mean that a majority of the population are identified as Christian. But both countries have changed ­demographically

© koninklijke brill nv, leiden, ���8 | doi 10.1163/9789004367111_006


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since the 1970s due to immigration now displaying examples of ‘the new diversity’. Both countries have seen a decline in affiliation to the traditional churches (except for Catholicism), the growth of evangelical and nondenominational forms of Christianity, the rise of non-religion, and patterns of growth in ‘world religions’ from increasing migration from the 1970s resulting in both nations holding Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist communities of a considerably size. Moreover, both countries have struggled to include and negotiate cultural space for their indigenous populations. In New Zealand, the Maori constitute 15 percent of the population (some 500,000), whereas 20,000 Inuits live in ‘mainland’ Denmark and 57,000 in Greenland, which since 1979 is under the authority of the Greenland Home Rule Administration. Despite these similarities, one key difference between the two nations is how they have recorded religious affiliation. New Zealand has a very strong Census tradition, where the task of the scholar has been to deconstruct the data, whereas in Denmark the task of the scholars has been to construct an understanding of religious diversity due to the lack of official statistics. New Zealand has conducted quinquennial censuses since 1851, by contrast Denmark’s census ceased collecting religious affiliation data in 1921. The value of our comparison is that it looks to map and analyse the divergence of these two approaches to understanding religion in the population. Our comparison of the consequences of these two contrasting methodological and conceptual approaches aims to show that different approaches to data collection and analysis importantly point to the benefits and weaknesses of the constructed nature of national understandings of religious diversity. Census affiliation data has often faced criticism for what it lacks. Monnot and Stolz (2014) for instance argue that national level statistics whilst providing a general overview, lack any depth of analysis and thus require supplementing with local studies to develop a fuller understanding of diversity. Census questions can also be criticised for reifying religious identities and turning ambiguous and ambivalent religious identities into solid rocks (Day & Lee 2014, 348). However, what we argue is that analysis of census data offers a privileged starting point to think about issues of religious diversity, which cannot be found in a nation such as Denmark where there is no possibility of gaining accurate national level data about religious affiliation.

The Portrayal of Religious Diversity in Official Statistics

The relation of ‘state’ and ‘statistics’ consists of more than simple etymology. Statistics, originally literally meant “science dealing with the facts of a state” (Woolf 1989, 590). According to Talal Asad “statistical concepts and practices

Constructing and Deconstructing Religious Diversity


are essential to the systematic manipulation of complex social formations” (Asad 1994, 55–88). Modern official statistics, including censuses, originated in 18th century church concerns about their parishioners (Woolf 1989, 588). During the 19th century, statistics became central for efficient management of resources of modern political institutions and the rise of the nation state (Leibler and Breslau 2005, 880–902, 881). Census data was a key central implement for gathering statistics about demographics. Whether religious affiliation is a part of official statistics is, however, a question of time and place. When censuses were established, many nations began collecting population data, it was recommended that questions about religion were included in the census. In the 19th century, both Denmark and New Zealand both included religion questions in their respective censuses. In Britain, religion was only included in the 1851 census and then left out due to “insufficient consensus” (Field 2014: 363): state churches in England, Wales and Scotland opposed measures that would further disestablishment, while ­Nonconformists supported measures associated with church-going as that put them in the best possible light – or no census at all (ibid.). Nevertheless, the question was implemented through the empire and was continued to be implemented by many of the British colonies., i.e., New Zealand. Other countries, such as Sweden and the United States never included the question. Some countries discontinued religion questions after the atrocities of World War ii (Dargent 2009, 215), while several countries ceased measuring affiliation in the 1970s and 80s due to growing concerns regarding privacy and registration of sensible topics (Simon 2007, 24). In other cases, the reasons for omission seem to be simply that the efforts to collect the data didn’t match the value. ‘Religious identification’ or “religious affiliation” census data unlike gender, age, marital status is considered one of “the more marginal variables” to include in this type of data collection (Thorvaldson 2014, 203). Although, the United Nations recommended, in 1987, that religion along with ethnicity should be additional data collected by European censuses (Weller 2004, 10). Today, New Zealand, Canada, Austria and Croatia are some of the nations which still collect census data on religious affiliation (for a comprehensive list of European countries who collect religion census data see Simon 2007), but this is by no means a common phenomenon and could be considered a ‘historical artefact’ because to include the question, requires the devotion of significant momentum and resources. Around the turn of the century, however the suggestion to include a religion question in uk census led to huge debates (Field 2014; Weller 2004). A question was included in the 2001 and again in the 2011 census. The growing scholarly and political importance of the question of religious diversity has however created new demands for national level population religion data. This is the kind of data that is produced by a Census. Census results


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can lead to ‘big’ questions about diversity. In Northern Ireland when the census in 1991 showed that less than half of the population was protestant led to huge debates on the validity of the category (Macourt 1995). In New Zealand, the 2006 Census demographic data is mapped into the Government’s Statement of Religious Diversity which is used as one metric to understand religious diversity outside of the usual discussions of diversity which have been focused around ethnicity. This type of data is used in new and comparative ways for example the Pew Research forum (Table 3.1). Pew has published information on religious diversity employing the rdi, the religious diversity index. The purpose of the index is to measure how religiously diverse nations are in comparison to each other and to give a breakdown of how that diversity is distributed through the major traditions. rdi for Denmark is calculated as 3.3, while New Zealand is 6.2. This places Denmark within the category of moderate level of religious diversity while New Zealand is regarded as high. The religious diversity index is constructed on the basis of the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index which is commonly used to measure market shares and is calculated on the basis of the share or size of different religions in various countries. Pew draws its material from a number of sources, the data on Denmark is drawn from estimates based on the report ‘Religion in Denmark´ from the Centre for Contemporary Religion, Aarhus University. This report is adjusted by Pew to account for underrepresented religious groups and migrant populations. By contrast, it draws its New Zealand data directly from the Ministry of Statistics National Census data for the 2009 National Census and Dwellings survey1 When bought into comparison with each other these two resources (‘Religion in Denmark’ & the New Zealand Census) which Pew compares are constructed very differently, with different strengths and different purposes. Which leaves Table 3.1

Comparison of rdi for Denmark and New Zealand drawn from the Pew data


Christian Muslim Unaffiliated Hindu Buddhist Folk Jewish religion

Denmark 83.5 New 57.0 Zealand

4.1 1.2

11.8 36.6

0.4 2.1

0.2 1.6