I think what I and most other sociologists of religion wrote in the 1960s about secularization was a mistake. Our underlying argument was that secularization and modernity go hand in hand. With more modernization comes more secularization. It wasn’t a crazy theory. There was some evidence for it. But I think it’s basically wrong. Most of the world today is certainly not secular. It’s very religious. So is the U.S. The one exception to this is Western Europe. One of the most interesting questions in the sociology of religion today is not, How do you explain fundamentalism in Iran? but, Why is Western Europe different? Peter Berger
While this quotation is from a 1997 interview in Christian Century, Berger’s comments still resonate with the current situation, especially in light of a new book by another sociologist of religion, Rodney Stark. In America’s Blessing Stark attempts to sever any strong link between pluralism and secularization by arguing that competition among religions or even different forms of the same religion increases religious commitment rather than decreasing it. This secondary claim of the book reinforces Stark’s primary claim that strong religious commitment has a positive benefit on society in general.