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Document Details :
Title: Faith in a Secular Age
Subtitle: Religion as Minority Phenomenon
Author(s): PRATT, Douglas
Journal: Studies in Interreligious Dialogue
Volume: 26 Issue: 2 Date: 2016
This paper outlines and discusses a study into the contemporary meaning of ‘secular’ undertaken in New Zealand, which has no State religion but nevertheless a Christian cultural heritage and identity. Now, however, for the first time a census (in 2013) has recorded that Christian allegiance, at c.45%, no longer represents the majority. Indeed, nearly 40% of the population stated ‘no religion’. A century ago the census records showed over 90% of the population as Christian. The changing figures tend to be regarded as evidence of ‘increasing secularism’, meaning that ‘to be secular’ is identified as the absence of religion. A review of the findings of the study raises issues and questions pertinent not only for the New Zealand context, but also for the place of religion in other western secular societies as well. For even where there is still a religious majority, it is arguably religion itself which is increasingly marginalized by virtue of the exclusion of religion from the public domain, and so put into the situation of being ‘in the minority’. What are the implications of this for faith, and for interfaith relations, in western secular society today?