Many people will claim that religion in the West is in a historical decline. We are living in an age where a young Western generation tend to be less involved in organized religion (Wacker, 2012). There is a division between state and religion in many Western, creating a secularized society.
The secularization theory has roots back to the sixteen century when Jean Bodin, a French political theorist, ascertained that emerging religious diversity creates a state where each religion renounce each other (Wilford, 2010). Centuries later, social religious and cultural diversity is a characteristic of the modern world. A world where individuals can pick and choose religious elements that suits their live, rather than to simply accept a given sacred canopy (Kurtz, 2016). Wagner (referred to in Kurtz, 2016, p. 16) brought up the term religious marketplace. He claimed that in a multicultural society, the religious traditions and institutions have to compete for worshippers, and that the worshippers shop for religions in in a similar way consumers shop in a marketplace.
Today, the effects of religious diversity combined with several modernization forces, have been unified into the secularization paradigm (Wilford, 2010). Wilford (2010) claims that the main thesis in secularization is that when societies become modernized, organized religion loses its social significance. Instead of religion, science and technology should be used as working mechanisms for humans to guide their lives. Kurtz (2016) adds to this definition by stating that in a secularized society, religious institutions lose their responsibility and authority. This results into a privatization of religion, where you can believe in what every you want as long as you do not bother other people with your practices. In other words, religion is taken out from public sphere.
Kurtz (2016) addresses two main issues concerning the secularization theory. The first issue deals with the role of religious institutions today. “Is the role of religious institutions become less important?” (Kurtz, 2016, p.17). The other issue is the question if people have become less believing, less worshipful and participate less in religious practices (Kurtz, 2016). Both of the issues are problematic to give a straightforward answer to. Even though the participation to traditional religious religions may be declining in some Western countries, there may still be underlying religious power structures that have been internalized in secular societies.
Written by Camilla