The idea that fecund religious fundamentalists will (eventually) take over the world is not a new one, but it gets a fresh airing in a new book by Eric Kaufmann discussed in this interesting (if vaguely leftish) piece from the UK’s New Humanist magazine (yes, it’s a mildly depressing title for a magazine, but what can you do?).
It’s always necessary to be careful about population projections, but statistics such as these are indeed striking:
In his American chapter Kaufmann goes to some lengths to describe the huge, and hugely unexpected, growth rates of sects we might have imagined would be obliterated by modernity. Thus the Hutterites, Anabaptist followers of 16th-century dissenter Jakob Hutter, who shun the modern world and live quiet communal lives in rural Middle America, have grown from a colony of 400 souls in 1900 to 50,000 today. Since they do not proselytise this is all internal growth. In the same period the buggy-driving Amish have grown from 5,000 to 250,000. That will double by 2050.
Right at the end of the piece, Kaufmann is quoted as saying that he wishes to “force a certain rethink of the idea that we are moving naturally toward secularism”
If people do indeed still have that idea (at least if we equate “secularism” with a lack of religious belief, which is, of course, not necessarily the case), they are seriously misguided. The future, like the past, will be religious. The only question is what shape those religions will take.