Featured Book: Beyond Doubt: The Secularization of Society

“The evidence for secularization is clear. Secularization is happening. Secularization is real. It’s beyond doubt.”

That is the last paragraph in the new-in-2023 book, Beyond Doubt: The Secularization of Society, and just about everything that precedes it validates this conclusion. The writers—a trio of sociologists—“draw on rich empirical evidence and careful analysis to make their case,” Publishers Weekly attests. In their introduction, they commit to “show the ways in which religious belief, behaviour, and belonging, have all been trending downward.” It’s happening most everywhere: one of the scholars, Phil Zuckerman, reports, “In nearly every society that we examined that has experienced [modernization]…secularization has occurred, often in spades.”

The data “proves religiosity in undeniably declining” in modern times, PW confirms; or, as the writers put it, “Religion is rapidly becoming less important than it’s ever been.” Mind you, they “don’t expect religion to disappear. Religion,” they allow, “meets so many deep human needs.” Elsewhere, Zuckerman tells how church-goers “know the value of strong congregational community, the meaningfulness of sacred rituals, the comfort of spiritual solace, and the power of religiously-inspired charitable works.” “[I]t will, however, become less prevalent,” the three declare in their book, “less potent, less hegemonic….”

Beyond Doubt: The Secularization of Society
By Isabella Kasselstrand, Phil Zuckerman, & Ryan Cragun
New York University Press, 2023