Demography drives religious change. High-fertility societies, like most of contemporary Africa, tend to be fervent and devout. The lower a population’s fertility rates, the greater the tendency for people to detach from organized or institutional religion. Thus, fertility rates supply an effective gauge of secularization trends. In Fertility and Faith, Philip Jenkins maps the demographic revolution that has taken hold of many countries around the globe in recent decades and explores the implications for the future development of the world’s religions.
Demographic change has driven the secularization of contemporary Western Europe, where the revolution began. Jenkins shows how the European trajectory of rapid declines in fertility is now affecting much of the globe. The implications are clear: the religious character of many non-European areas is highly likely to move in the direction of sweeping secularization. And this is now reshaping the United States itself.
This demographic revolution is reshaping Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, and Judaism. In order to accommodate the new social trends, these religions must adapt to situations where large families are no longer the norm. Each religious tradition will develop distinctive emphases concerning morality, gender, and sexuality, as well as the roles of clergy and laity in the faith’s institutional structures.
Radical change follows great upheaval. The tidal shift is well underway. With Fertility and Faith, Philip Jenkins describes this ongoing phenomenon and envisions our collective religious future.
Introduction 1 Fertility and Faith How Changes in Fertility Shape Religious Structures and Behavior Part 1 2 Europe’s Revolution The Demographic Revolution Begins 3 Spiritual and Secular The Decline of Europe’s Faith 4 The Revolution Goes Global New Patterns of Fertility and Faith Spread Rapidly around the World 5 The United States Between Two Worlds? Part 2 6 Africa High Fertility and Strong Faith 7 Two-Tier Islam Uneven Demographic Transitions 8 Go Forth and Divide Populism, Faith, and Fertility Conclusion 9 Living in a Low-Fertility World Can Religions Adapt to the New Society?
Philip Jenkins is Distinguished Professor of History at Baylor University.
In this riveting new book, Philip Jenkins masterfully navigates the disciplines of demography, history, economics, sociology, and psychology in order to systematically capture the startling relationship between faith and fertility. Jenkins demonstrates how faith and fertility are related to each other as well as the many seismic ways in which this relationship will influence what the world will look like in generations to come. Academics and popular audiences will find this book compelling, as will clergy, lay leaders, policy makers, and even futurists.
~Byron R. Johnson, Distinguished Professor of the Social Sciences and Director of the Institute for Studies of Religion and the Program on Prosocial Behavior, Baylor University
Religious leaders have spent decades debating strategies for global evangelism or combating (post)modernism, convinced that the key to religious growth lies in perfecting techniques or ideas. Yet scholars of religion have long observed that ‘demography is destiny’ when it comes to religious groups. In this accessible book, Philip Jenkins synthesizes a wealth of research on the vital connection between fertility and faith worldwide. He argues persuasively that, for religious groups to thrive, they must adjust to the emerging reality of a low-fertility world, along with all of its tumultuous cultural, political, and economic implications. For scholars, faith leaders, and laypersons alike, this is an important book.
~Samuel L. Perry, Assistant Professor, University of Oklahoma
With his typical flair and remarkable clarity Philip Jenkins takes the reader on a global tour to explore the intimate relationship between religion and fertility. This book offers an engaging exploration of the implications this relationship holds for the future. It is highly accessible and will be of interest to a general audience.
~Roger Finke, Professor of Sociology, Religious Studies, and International Affairs, Pennsylvania State University
True to form, in another well-researched and well-written book, Philip Jenkins breaks new ground by examining the influences of traditional religions and secularization on fertility and the reciprocal influence of fertility patterns on future developments in religion and society. Taking an in-depth look at nation states and religious institutions he utilizes extensive data as he considers the influences of cultures, economics, politics, attitudes toward sexuality, gender and family, and thoughtfully analyzes the complex configurations they produce. His conclusions are thought-provoking and compelling.
~Anthony J. Pogorelc, Sociology Scholar in Residence, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, St. Mary's University
... An important contribution to the conversation about religion’s changing role in society, and one that those interested in demography or contemporary religious life would do well to engage with.
~Alexandra Greenwald, Christian Century
An important contribution to the conversation about religion’s changing role in society, and one that those interested in demography or contemporary religious life would do well to engage with.
~Alexandra Greenwald, Christian Century
Jenkins makes a clear argument and supports it well with impressive demographic breadth and fascinating historical depth. His contribution is highly relevant and could be crucial to a multidisciplinary hermeneutic for approaching fluctuations in fertility rates—such that policy makers, theologians, students, and scholars of world religion might engage critically with [Total Fertility Rate] trends and projections worldwide.
~Lisa Joy Fowler, Reading Religion
Fertility and Faith is a work of remarkable scholarship, amounting to a global overview of both the demographic transition and the decline in religious involvement.... Jenkins gives historians and social scientists plenty to ponder, providing both a remarkable panorama of the woods and an assiduous examination of the trees, displaying the fruits of years of research in a book that is completely accessible to a general audience. It deserves to be widely read.
~David Voas, Journal of Church and State
In 'Fertility and Faith', Philip Jenkins lays out a compelling, data-driven, and cogently argued case for the intertwining nature of reproductive rates and the fervency of religious beliefs around the world. Overall, Jenkins shows that higher fertility rates generally correspond to high levels of religious commitment in a society while, conversely, lower fertility rates correlate with lower religous commitment. Rather than stipulate a simplistic cause and effect relationship considering this correlation, the author ably demonstrates that there is in fact a complex web of linkages and cyclical sociological reinforcements.
~Michael Nichols, Perdue University, Anglican Theological Review/Episocpal History