An Empirical Critique of Re-Sacralisation

Steve Bruce*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This article examines the evidence that largely secular societies are experiencing a process of re-sacralisation. It first dismisses four diversions: taking examples from societies that have never been secular; exaggerating the demographics and religiosity of migrant minorities; missing the fact that religious institutions can only hope to have public influence if they can make a secular case for their preferences; and mistaking notoriety for popularity. It then shows that adherence to Christianity continues to decline apace as does specifically Christian belief. None of the candidates for replacement-non-Christian religions, new religious movements and alternative spirituality-has come at all close to filling the gap left by the Christian churches. Furthermore there is no evidence that governments wish to reverse the standard accommodation to religious diversity and secularity: anything in private; little or nothing in the public sphere. There is no evidence that the population at large wishes it were otherwise. On the contrary. As religion has become more controversial, religion enjoying public influence has, like religion itself, become less, not more popular. Finally, the article argues that the current scarcity of religious people, and the unusual characteristics of those who remain religious, make it ever less likely that there will be a religious revival. So that sufficient detail can be presented, the argument concentrates on the United Kingdom.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-161
Number of pages17
JournalAnalyse & Kritik
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 24 May 2017


  • post secular society
  • re sacralisation
  • Secularisation


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