Religion           Media                   Politics                   ManageMent                   science                ...
.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,      3
gloBal religion         Judaism         Hinduism         Buddhism         Islam         Christianity    3000 BCE          ...
ForewordOur task at the Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies is advising Danish and interna-tional business, and our g...
ContentsForeword ............................................................................................................
In heaven and on the earth     ” I died from minerality and became vegetable;     And from vegetativeness I died and becam...
world, contributed to the formation of culture and society – and vice versa – that may beenough to call religion something...
A great symbol of many Muslims’ life with – and link to their god is the mosque.     What does it mean for this group of r...
Seven entrances to religionin the society of the future
#1: Emphasis on the spiritual –         a new capitalist paradigm     What do several Danish municipal institutions, Danfo...
his own happiness and that of the company. For the past 20 years, this ideal has been a loudmantra for both practitioners ...
Religion, like power, strategy, myths and rituals, is an effective creator of social     identity and movement.         It...
into turtle-shaped wooden huts so they can transform themselves to the sound of drumswith reference to Indian mythology?  ...
#2: New Atheism     God is dead!     Many have had only derision for Nietzsche’s words. But in the last few years, the wes...
New Atheism goes global     The currents of New Atheism have spread from the US and the UK to the rest of Europe.     In F...
#3: The spiritually infatuated mediaThe media has become our age’s great reality mirror, advisor, school and trendsetter,b...
nUMBer oF articles in danisH Media containing tHe Word “religion”     14000     12000     10000      8000      6000      4...
religion or lack of the same. But without a doubt, it was the terror attacks of 9/11 that ledto articles and op-ed pieces ...
In this way, Denmark’s only public service station has become a billboard for the     Lutheran church.     Remystification...
#4: Is religion all in the mind?Do people have an inborn inclination to religion? Can religious experiences be traced back...
#5: Ten roles for religion in the future     What is the role of religion in the future? And in which areas might religion...
Economic growth is pushing more and more people around the world to a level whereeconomic worries fade into the background...
#6: God’s tongue     In recent years, religion has been prominent on the agenda around the world. Faith fills     much of ...
In other words, the American media functions in many ways like a limb of the Re-publican administration. When the press ha...
when it comes to topics such as abortion, stem cell research and women’s rights.     Since we are here speaking of religio...
#7:May we manipulate God’s creation?Throughout history, science and religion have often been in conflict with each other. ...
Four scenarios for religion in the future
scenarios For religion in tHe FUtUre                                            conFlict                    The war over r...
Four scenarios for religion in the future:introductionIn this report, we have focused on the topic of religion by looking ...
TRENDS      Experience economy      Corporate religion      Clash of Civilizations      New Age      Priests in companies ...
Scenario 1: The war over reality2020Stranger than fictionOccasionally a mode of thinking appears -- a paradigm that totall...
CNN 2007      The Vatican on non-Catholic Christian congregations:      “According to Catholic doctrine, these Communities...
”eMerging alignMents” oF civilizations   Greater line thickness represents more conflict in the civilizational relationshi...
and used as a rallying point for new battles, treaties, genocide and treason.         The boundaries between civilizations...
ing observed. Conflict of every sort imaginable over international agreements made itextremely difficult to be a global co...
In relation to the spiritual unilateralism, integration became a process EU and Euro-     pean governments agreed should o...
Scenario 2: Losing our religion2020During the first decade of the 21st century, people in the West encountered enormousfoc...
For this reason, churches—especially in the Nordic region—have given up on trying     to draw people to services; many chu...
of time and tasks. There were also troubles with the binding forces within the com-pany, caused by the differences in valu...
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in...5



Published on

No Downloads
Total Views
On Slideshare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Transcript of "Religion"

  1. 1. Religion Media Politics ManageMent science criticisM Future Member’s Report #3/2007 Religion Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies Instituttet for Fremtidsforskning
  2. 2. .,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,
  3. 3. .,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,., 3
  4. 4. gloBal religion Judaism Hinduism Buddhism Islam Christianity 3000 BCE 2000 BCE 480 BCE 32 CE 570 CE 2000 CE Hinduism Judaism Buddhism Christianity Islam4
  5. 5. ForewordOur task at the Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies is advising Danish and interna-tional business, and our goal is more innovative, future-ready, growing companies. So why devote this member report to the phenomenon of religion? Because religion is important not only for the religious or for theologians. Globaliza-tion has made religion and its consequences a public matter. Not only in the politicalsphere, where religion is an obvious part of important discussions and decisions aboutterrorism, diplomacy, democracy and integration. But also as a discourse that, like anunderlying stream, runes through some of the most important topics in internationalsociety: freedom of speech, the use of religious symbols in the public space, ghettoization,what’s happening in Islamabad, discrimination, Turkish EU membership, the treatmentof interpreters. Religion is present when we speak of the modern person’s lack of signifi-cance, George Bush’s rhetoric, global religious wars, biotechnological ethics and the new,critical atheism. The wind of religion blows through companies, too. Ministers coach in companies; weare challenged by new employees from different cultures, and the values-based manage-ment style creates corporate religions. Altogether, signs of a future in which religion will play a role in how we manageour society.The report begins with an introductory article that introduces the term “religion.” Thereaf-ter, we present seven approaches to religion’s role as an important player in the society ofthe future. Finally, we present four future scenarios with religion and secularization as drivers,and look at the interesting consequences the development will have for society and com-panies -- and, for companies, areas such as management, recruiting, product developmentand export.The report will be presented in Copenhagen on September 11, and in Aarhus on Septem-ber 13. As something new, we are invite the press and selected interests to the meeting inthe hopes of widening the debate on religion’s role in the future. See the time and locationon our website Lind Ditlevsen, project managerCopenhagen Institute for Futures Studies, September 2007 5
  7. 7. ContentsForeword ...................................................................................................................... 5In heaven and on the earth ......................................................................................... 10# 1 Emphasis on the spiritual – a new capitalist paradigm........................................... 16# 2 New atheism ........................................................................................................ 20# 3 The spiritually infatuated ....................................................................................... 23# 4 Is religion all in the mind? ..................................................................................... 27# 5 Ten roles for religion in the future........................................................................... 28# 6 God’s tongue ........................................................................................................ 30# 7 May we manipulate God’s creation? .................................................................... 33Four scenarios for religion in the future ....................................................................... 35Introduction to the scenarios ...................................................................................... 37Scenario 1: The war for reality..................................................................................... 39Scenario 2: Losing our religion .................................................................................... 45Scenario 3: The new ghettos ...................................................................................... 51Scenario 4: The dream of the good life ....................................................................... 58Sources ...................................................................................................................... 65 7
  8. 8. Religion
  9. 9. In heaven and on the earth ” I died from minerality and became vegetable; And from vegetativeness I died and became animal. I died from animality and became man. Then why fear disappearance through death? Next time I shall die Bringing forth wings and feathers like angels; After that, soaring higher than angels - What you cannot imagine, I shall be that.”1 Is religion something special? Is religion more special than politics, law or economics? Is religion so special that it can be treated in a publication like this one – alongside topics such as globalization and innovation? Maybe we talk more than we think We are not especially religious here in northern Europe. In the World Value Survey, we recently read that we, in the course of the past 26 years, have moved our values more and more from the traditional to the secular. We have thereby gained more individual freedom, have become more tolerant, want more influence in economic and political pro- cesses and prioritize environmental protection more highly. But religion is still a subject that occupies us. Maybe because we know we have all been religious once, before it was called religion, back when it was just the way we were. We thanked God (the gods) before we ate, we asked God(s) for help in times of great distress, and we went to God’s (or the gods’) holy house to thank Him (them) and hear his (their) Word. And maybe we are occupied with religion because we increasingly meet people for whom religion is an important part of life – and that challenges our rational mindset. Or it is because religion is now also something completely different and more attractive than “tradition”, namely very often the creation of new contexts of meaning and ways to man- age existence through the probing of self, nature, death or perhaps something completely different? It is also very possible that we, because modern life is so fragmented, again need the absolute (that which we cannot question and that never changes character). Finally, it is possible that religion offers a paradigm or, even better, a universe so far removed from our daily lives that it has again become attractive – if not to adhere to, then to talk about. Opium and longings Whether we talk about it or not, religion has, for thousands of years, and around the10
  10. 10. world, contributed to the formation of culture and society – and vice versa – that may beenough to call religion something special. Our European society has passed through manydifferent religious eras, and before the Age of Enlightenment, religion was ubiquitous inEurope. The religious person was a model, and the church was society’s sovereign centerwith both means and power. With Galileo’s revolt against the geocentric worldview, questions were suddenly raisedabout the church as the only arbiter of truth, and the Age of Enlightenment began itsdevelopment, with a greater and greater focus on a scientific approach to reality to follow. In the 19th century, the Age of Enlightenment passed on to industrialization, and themodern reality began to take form. We now worked together in factories instead of smallworkshops; time passed in a different way. The church still owned the spiritual life of thepeople, while the factory took what was left. One of the best-known definition of religion is Marx’, who declared religion “opiumfor the people.” The definition is what we can call “functional:” it says something aboutwhat religion does, not what it is.”Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul ofsoulless conditions. It is the opium of the people”2In Marx’ time, religion played a role that it still plays in many industrial societies andpoor parts of the world: the comforting, promising helper that makes the hard, poor lifebearable, but that also has the effect that one resigns oneself and becomes listless and un-able to put up resistance. This definition of religion is colored by the age in which it wascoined – and to a great degree by its author. Freud saw religion as a disease.“Religion is as an universal obsessional neurosis. [It is] the suppression, the renunciation ofcertain instinctual impulses. These impulses, however, are not, as in the neuroses, exclusivelycomponents of the sexual instinct; they are self-seeking, socially harmful instincts”3The time had come to rebel against tradition and the ordinary person’s humility. Individu-alization and secularization were in motion.Clash of DefinitionsPeople for whom religion is an object of research are not particularly interested inwhether religion is correct. Whether there really exists a god who is almighty, one that watches over people whenthey are alone and need comfort; gods who give people life tasks, spirits who notice howpeople treat nature? We do not know, and it is not our job to know. What we investigate is what it meansfor people that they have arranged their lives according to religion. How they think, act andcreate institutions; what needs to be in place for people to become religious and, not least,how the construction and operation of the religious entity affects the surrounding societyand the world outside. The meeting of relation and other views of life can in a big way endwith a Clash of Civiliztions, which many would say we are living in here in the 00’s, but theindividual society’s handling of religious movements’ behavior is no less interesting. 11
  11. 11. A great symbol of many Muslims’ life with – and link to their god is the mosque. What does it mean for this group of religious people if the society they live in does not recognize it? Jehovah’s Witnesses may not receive blood transfusions, even under life- threatening circumstances. Where does that leave the modern healthcare system – and the physician who must save life? Should we continue to marvel at China’s modernization process when it remains an occupying power? Is secularization as much of a threat to the Islamic world as Islam is to the secularized world? Religion in the modern world has many faces and leads to many problems. But what is religion when it comes down to it? What is religion? A definition of religion needs to be broad enough not to exclude any religions – and nar- row enough so that it excludes concepts that look like religion but are not religion. The definition “something we do together that strongly affects our worldview” is therefore too broad, because the same could be said of politics, love and civil religion4. And to call religiosity “going to church” is far too narrow, since, for one thing, count- less religious streams exist without associated physical buildings; for another, many reli- gious people do not go to this physical building; for a third, we thus exclude a large part of the non-Christian religion’s adherents, namely those who attend mosque or temple. The definition of religion is carried out constantly in the research institutions the world over that work with religion – and has been since religion became an object of study in the 1800s. Religion is not something special – as we asked in the introduction – but religion has special features that mean religion differentiates itself from every other possible phenomenon in our society. So that readers of this report have a platform to stand on as they read, our project group presents this definition of religion as a starting point. A definition that is both sub- stantive and functional,5 used in the theological, academic environment, and crafted by Professor Armin Geertz, Ph.D.: ”Religion is a cultural system and a social institution that drives and promotes the ideal interpretation of existence and ideal practice with regard to with asserted trans-empirical powers or beings”6 1 Poem by Rumi (1207-1273) Tajiki founder of Mawlawi Sufism (mystic tradition descended from Islam) 2 Karl Marx, 1844. 3 Sigmund Freud, 1907. 4 Cultivation of the nation through the use of religious fragments such as New Year’s Eve, Midsummer’s Eve and memorial services for WW2 victims. 5 The definition says something about what religion is and what it does. 6 The definition is broad enough to include both Scientology and Islam, yet “trans-empirical powers and beings” excludes civil religion and civil religious imitations such as football club fandom and allotment garden nationalism.12
  12. 12. 13
  13. 13. Seven entrances to religionin the society of the future
  14. 14. #1: Emphasis on the spiritual – a new capitalist paradigm What do several Danish municipal institutions, Danfoss, the Danish Ministry of Finance, Grundfos, Lundbeck, NESA, Novo Nordisk, Tarco, TDC, Topdanmark, Novozymes, Dansk Management Forum, Nordea and Dancake have in common? One obvious shared char- acteristic is that they are all large, leading profitable Danish organizations. A less obvious characteristic is that they are buyers of religion-inspired personnel development courses for their employees and managers. These companies have used or use a broad group of religious specialists and guides who, using religious revelation, initiation rites and contact to gods, powers and cosmic forces deliver guidance and sparring, and function as sources of inspiration for the com- panies’ values, ethics, personnel policies and personal development. If you think religion and religiosity are something left to the “big” religions such as Christianity, Islam and Judaism, and foreign exotic cultures where people dance strange dances, believe in UFOs, gods and spiritual creators that can transform a person through initiation rites and recitation of mantras, you are wrong. Rituals, dogmas and myths have become central sources of inspiration in many companies’ corporate culture. Team leader Carsten Lindvik, Danish Association of Executives and Managers, puts it this way: ’Religion and work are mixed. There’s been a break with what was once considered good tone for companies. No longer does everything have to be scientifically grounded, and therefore companies are increasingly betting on the spiritual through, for example, spiritual courses, horoscopes and clairvoyance… who knows why? We only know that people that let themselves be spiritually guided are able to make the right decisions.”’.1 “Betting on the spiritual” should be seen as a consequence of a changed capitalist culture in which companies and organizations are increasingly harnessed to the premises of the immaterial economy. Companies and organizations must be self-reflecting with regard to development and innovation, show sensitivity, empathy, learning and change readiness, and that requires a special type of manager and employee. Emotional capital With regard to the perfection of the employee and the manager in modern working life, there has been a marked sensitization and increase in religiousness. The soft values -- and the individ- ual as a unique source of meaning and his own authority – are at the forefront. In the immate- rial consumer society, there is a specific perception of the employee that is strongly marked by the Human Resource Management rationale of the “whole person” and the “spiritual person.” This person should perceive himself as a competence, actively seek self-realization and flex- ibility, and look into himself to realize his inherent unexploited potential that many compa- nies believe their employees have, to thereby consummate an own humanity in work life for16
  15. 15. his own happiness and that of the company. For the past 20 years, this ideal has been a loudmantra for both practitioners and theorists, and it has defined completely new ways to be anemployee and a person. For this reason, many companies seek, as Lindvik makes plain, to stimulate and activate thisinner unexploited potential through religious therapy and techniques, and management tech-niques such as Pathfinder courses, hypnosis, visualization, various forms of coaching, medita-tion, yoga, Zen, NLP, humanistic psychology and astrology. The employees in today’s organizational culture are now evaluated to a great degree ontheir emotional capital: their ability to adjust themselves and internalize the company’s values,show engagement, take initiative, be driven and be of good humor. Success in today’s corporateculture is a successful adjustment to the company’s values, laws, rules and principles (includingthe religious) and fear of exclusion from the social community. In the dominant corporate culture, it is often the case that it is the employee’s own respon-sibility to make herself relevant and include herself and her self in the organization. Here, itfollows that the employee who does not create her own relevance or perceive herself as alwayshaving the potential to develop, maybe also does not share the company’s attitude towardcompany priests, imams, or holistic guides. She may not want to go on an NLP course, sit in atee-pee, and call up the Great Spirit or read her future in coffee grounds, but she thereby risksexcluding herself by making herself irrelevant to the company.Religion as power and strategyCompanies, managers and religious consultants do not speak of religion in the workplaceor in management and personnel development. Instead, they speak of spirituality and psy-chology. The users of these courses and religious specialists will often not see themselvesas religious or participants in a religious group, but experience that, through meditation,NLP and divination, they are offered a tool and a set of methods to help them in theirwork life and life in general. But what do I mean when I use the term “religion”? Whatcommonalities make the religious narratives, rituals and myths we experience at work nodifferent from the new or old religions we are familiar with? The subject is fairly complex, but, in brief, we can say “religion” and “religiosity” areforms of culture in which people act and think based on a belief that superhuman beingsand powers (gods, spirits, ancestors, angels, energies, cosmic forces, the “self,” UFO, etc)exist. These powers and beings drive and bring forth an interpretation of the individual’sexistence and prescribe an ideals set. This means that these beings are also cultural products, and thus part of an individu-al’s or group’s way of understanding the world. Since religion and religiosity are culture, these cultural expressions have always in-cluded communication in that they are created by people. But the religious culture claimsfor itself a special authority in comparison to other forms of communication. The religions have always defined what is “true” and “false” religion, and in that wayall religions always compete with each other over which truth is correct, and which peopleare the elect and which are heretics. Religion is, in other words, active discourses in awakening feelings and view-points in the mobilization of social groups in relation to a truth, whether it is thecorporate values, perception of the employee, salvation and freedom through devel-opment of the self, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism or anticipation of the apocalypse. 17
  16. 16. Religion, like power, strategy, myths and rituals, is an effective creator of social identity and movement. It looks as if companies, organizations and government bodies have now become social arenas for religious display and the worship of gods, energies, spirits, cosmic pow- ers and the self. There is an interesting issue here. Since we know religions are human artifacts, it makes no sense to aim one’s guns at what gods, spirits or cosmic guides say and express. On the contrary, we should look more closely at the people who form and tell stories about religion, spirituality, energies, and the self’s change. What is the goal? In other words, what interests, motives and intentions lie behind keeping the gods, spirits and angels alive? What is at stake when companies and managers and organiza- tional development consultants contribute to a normative discourse on religion and spiri- tuality’s importance to success in work life, and localize the “holy” in people in the form of self, inner resources, unexploited potential and energy that the employee much strive for to achieve status as a part of the company’s community?2 Cosmic capitalism’s paradigm Stress is indeed a big problem today, and you can be stressed both by work and private life. But now we have a priest who can help our employees with these problems. It is about hav- ing employees who are full of life and who thrive, and a priest can help with that. (Carsten Reves, area director, Nordea)3 The workplace has always contributed to the creation of the frames for the employee’s and manager’s identity and self-understanding. The company has become the new polis – the place where more and more people use most of their time, and the place where many are shaped and developed. So it affects many people, directly and indirectly, when companies and managers invite and employ religious management gurus, spiritual guides, priests, therapists and coaches in the company, and when meditation, development and realization of self, Indian mythology and the rhetoric of emotion become parts of the com- pany culture, stress management policy, strategy for management, and the employee’s personal development. A close analysis of religion and references to spiritual and inner development indi- cates it all fits in with a greater arsenal of management and intimate technologies that are proven to be an effective means of adjusting, driving and mobilizing leaders and employ- ees in relation to the company’s goals for profit and good business. In that, it seems implicit in the “offer” of development and personnel perks a form of disciplining of the employee’s and manager’s feelings against total emotional identifica- tion with the company. Because what should an employee in today’s corporate culture say when a manager employs a priest as a sparring partner in personal development? Should we, in the name of diversity, also employ a company imam or astrologer, and offer mem- bership in the atheist society to employees who do not share the religious values incarnate in the company? Seen in this light, we can ask what is the consequence when the company or organi- zation offers its employees yoga and meditation as part of its stress management policy, employs priests as Nordea does, offers greater inner self disciplining through meditation, talks about how their managers are products of earlier lives, and sends its managers out18
  17. 17. into turtle-shaped wooden huts so they can transform themselves to the sound of drumswith reference to Indian mythology? Is business in fact contributing to creating a discriminatory work culture, when religiousactors and religion become a navigable path to coming “closer” to the inner employee? With regard to inner unexploited resources and energy that can be tapped in the ser-vice of the company, and to cosmic forces, companies, like religions, are active contribu-tors to creating the framework for a specific social and economic culture with a particulartype of person – the “spiritual” winners – not losers or opponents. It helps legitimize anddecide what is good and bad behavior, who the good employee is and who is the oppo-nent. It is an example of the cosmic capitalism’s paradigm. The reason to keep the gods and angels alive in business life must therefore bethought out from a management strategy of disciplining and effective employees than justa desire to proved a perk. Not accepting is difficult, since one excludes oneself. In the company, the spiritual contributes to unity with regard to a normative idea ofthe “whole or spiritual person,” known from the world of established religion. Also herethere is a differentiation of attitudes and understanding among the believers, in relationto their faith in different these and religious leaders. What is applicable to both businessand religions as social communities, is that the difference can exist, but only to a certainpoint. The central dogmas must be recited with power and without hesitation, otherwiseyou are a heretic or opponent, and have no part in the true salvation.1 Dorthe Hein Løwendahl 20052 Joel Haviv (ed.) 20073 Downloaded på 19
  18. 18. #2: New Atheism God is dead! Many have had only derision for Nietzsche’s words. But in the last few years, the western world has seen a flood of evolutionist and atheistic books and articles. Philosophers, scien- tists and humanists have had enough of religion’s increasing influence on politics and the public space. When President George Bush – a born-again Christian – used his veto powers the first time, it was to stop stem cell research. After 9/11, Jerry Falwell, a television evangelist who recently died, preached that the attack was God’s punishment for there being too many homosexuals, feminists and civil rights activists in the country. Statements and atti- tudes like these have helped prompt, especially in the United States, a counter-movement of atheist attitudes that often resembles fundamentalism. Science vs. God One of the most insistent opponents of religion is Richard Dawkins, an atheist and a sci- entist at Oxford University. His book The God Delusion was published in 2006, and went straight to the New York Times bestseller list. In the book, Dawkins argues that religion is irrational, and he presents hard, straight- forward repudiation of the concept of “intelligent design,” which is the fundamentalist Christians newest weapon against evolutionism. “Intelligent design” claims that chance cannot explain complex details in living crea- tures. They must have been created by an intelligent being, who can only be God, even though the concept of God is cunningly omitted by supporters to avoid colliding with the US constitution. Dawkins stresses the worst sides of Christianity, Islam and Hinduism. One of his bit- ing points is that religion can lead to violence, and he notes examples from the Christian crusades of the Middle Ages to religious fanaticism, with 9/11 as the most tangible, con- temporary proof. Fundamental concepts such as violence and love loom large in the discussion, and many Christians are not slow to take a monopoly on brotherly love. The Danish neurosci- entist Albert Gjedde has another view of this. According to Gjedde, the ethical fundamen- tal principles are “hard coded” in our brains, even thought it is hard to explain why we act as we do. According to Gjedde, religion therefore does not have a monopoly on ethical claims, be- cause humanism and a collective sense of human rights are apparently built into the brain. The analyses of Dawkins and other atheists are also criticized. Not just by the funda- mentalist faithful but also by scientists. One argument against Dawkins it that he stretch- es his natural scientific argument further than it can hold, for example by basing his argument on Bible passages that only fundamentalist Christians follow. That may become Dawkins’ Achilles heel over the long term.20
  19. 19. 21
  20. 20. New Atheism goes global The currents of New Atheism have spread from the US and the UK to the rest of Europe. In France, for example, all forms of religious symbols are forbidden in schools. The ban is probably rooted in anxiety about Islamic fundamentalism, which we also find in Den- mark, with several cases about wearing veils and about Muslim women’s refusal to shake hands with men. The established atheists have capitalized on this flood of issues, and use the Internet to a great degree to transmit their message. For example, YouTube has various homemade films in which atheists encourage people to contribute to the debate about God’s existence and challenge the existence of the same. The atheistic wave has washed over Denmark, too. In 2006, the Atiestisk Selskab (Atheist Society) launched a campaign urging people to resign from the Danish national church and enroll in the society. Membership rose 50% in just a few weeks. But according to Morten Warmind, a religion scholar and associate professor in the Department of Cross-cultural and Regional Studies at the University of Copenhagen, atheism in Denmark will not become significantly prominent. This is because the Danish national church is liberal, without sharply defined limits. And even though the interest in atheism is growing, the numbers of organized atheist in Denmark will not be significant because people do not feel pressure from the church, and because the church’s existence is not felt strongly. False theory? One of the latest shoots on the evolutionist literature tree is the book Breaking the Spell, by American philosopher Daniel C. Dennett. The main purpose of the book is to remove the taboo around the discussion of God’s existence. Dennett sees religion as a natural phenomenon in line with love, music, humor, etc. And, for him, religion is a phenomenon that can be compared to genes. The variations in religious beliefs that are best at surviving. Dennett speculates about why there are apparently so many in the US who dispute the theory of evolution. Just a few centuries ago, only a small minority believed the world was round. Is that analogous to religious belief? Could the reason so many deny the theory of evolution be that they have been taught the theory is false, or at least lacking in evidence? History shows the majority can be wrong. The future will probably not offer a final rebellion against religiosity and a final vic- tory to the evolutionists. But the desire to ask great questions of the past’s absolute truths is incontestable. “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer God than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible Gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.” Stephen Henry Roberts, historian (1901-71)22
  21. 21. #3: The spiritually infatuated mediaThe media has become our age’s great reality mirror, advisor, school and trendsetter,because the media’s choice and treatment of topics largely sets the agenda for how muchattention various phenomena receive – and which ones.1 It was in the past that traditional institutions such as family, church and the local com-munity provided the substance for the individual’s moral direction. Today, media, againstthe background of the decline of the traditional communities, or increasing use of media,commercialization and the knowledge society’s focus on communication, has largely over-taken the position as the projector of role models, attitudinal and behavioral norms, andnot least as communicator of the great stories about the heroes and villains of the present.Television fiction in particular has a special characteristic compared with other media,since it simply cultivates the near identification with its viewers and offers a universe thatpossesses to some degree a causal realism—and thereby represents an alternative realityeasily exchanged with the viewer’s own. But other media also present a contrived real-ity whose objectivity cannot always be taken for granted, and so it can be a challenge forthe media consumer to know when media presents and when it represents. Media has adouble role as both a reflector and creator of reality. One phenomenon that has especially filled the media in recent years is religion andassociated themes. Faith, religiosity and the more hyped – and very spacious phenomena– spirituality and New Age are topics that have caught the media’s attention, and havethereby brought the incorporeal dimension back to on the agenda in the form of articles,broadcasts and films about life after death, spirits, unknown intelligent life in the universe,clairvoyance, Islam’s history, the Christian crusades, debates about the practice of wearinghajib, the resurgence of asetro (an obscure belief based on Nordic mythology), etc. Ten percent of printed articles in Denmark in 2005 were about religion and religios-ity, and themes such as Christianity and Islam took up 25% of the total op-ed material [M.Pape Rosenfeldt, 2007]. From 1995 to 2004, the number of registered articles in Denmarkcontaining the word “God” rose 234%. The number of articles on “faith” in the Danishpress rose 3033%, articles about Allah rose 331%, while 321% more articles mentionJesus. [M. Thomsen Højsgaard, 2005].The pluralistic societyGlobalization, which, among its other effects, has made local events globally relevant,plays a big role in this development, as illustrated by the Muhammad drawings affair andthe conflict around the Red Mosque in Pakistan in 2007. Islam’s increased presence in Western society has been an important driver of Euro-peans’ motivation to discuss religion – and has made them more conscious of their own1 By “media” we mean TV, radio, print, film, printed publications and electronic publications. 23
  22. 22. nUMBer oF articles in danisH Media containing tHe Word “religion” 14000 12000 10000 8000 6000 4000 2000 0 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 Source: Infomedia24
  23. 23. religion or lack of the same. But without a doubt, it was the terror attacks of 9/11 that ledto articles and op-ed pieces focusing on religion, not least Christianity and Islam. Islamhas affected the public debate much more than Christianity, but both have taken up morecolumn-inches since. In that way, religion has visibly entered the public space and looksset to stay. Stig Hjarvard, a professor of film and media at the University of Copenhagen, callsthe trend a remystification, the opposite of the demystification, noted by Max Weber,prompted by the rise of rationalism in the modern Western world. When we use the term “remystification”, we do not mean that that we have lived in arational and, thus, demystified world since the beginning of the industrial age, and thatwe now live in a society characterized by the mystical, emotional and miraculous. TheWestern social model is still built on rationalism, but at the same time we have, for vari-ous reasons, allowed the religious more time in the public debate. Western and CentralEurope are therefore neither secularized or religious, but pluralistic. We aspire to peacefulcoexistence between groups with different worldviews, and it is that that has given spaceto a sort of remystification.Public service churchFinally, we must mention that which we will here broadly call spiritual infatuation, a termwe will use here to cover the contemporary trend of going back to our roots, throughgenealogy, idealization of the values of the past and the authentic, to self development,professionally and personally, to making group rituals, especially at work, but also at festi-vals and in network groups, and finally the tendency to wrap everything in added value. The last has, of course, its roots in the market culture’s focus on competition, but hasspread to other spheres, and is based on the notion that generic product or condition isnever enough, but requires more than the tangible and expected. So there is a great focuson the unique that sets it apart, and that which cannot be bought. All and all, it gives the bottom line that makes it profitable for the media to bring newsfrom the religious or spiritual world. The spiritual infatuation is particularly apparent in the media, whose coverage ofreligion and related topics can be divided into two main categories: 1) presentation ofreligion (particularly Islam and Christianity), including the presentation of religion asreligious phenomena or themes derived from religion and 2) presentation in the form ofborrowings from the religious. The presentation of religion can take two forms. All European news media present, onequal footing with other news and themes, the development of the established religions,especially including the conflicts spawned by religion. But some also appear as direct mouth-pieces for the religions, as the Danish broadcasting company DR does. DR, a public servicebroadcaster, has broadcast religious services each Sunday since the start of 2006, and hasestablished a web site DR Kirken [], a cooperativeeffort between it and the Danish Evangelical Lutheran church. DR writes on its web site: “We have chosen to call this new initiative DR Church both to mark that this is a churchservice especially arranged for television, and because we actually are lucky enough to haveour “own” church to broadcast from. The parish council of Skader-Søby-Halling in Djursland(a Danish provincial parish. – Ed.) has generously offered its charming little Skader Churchfor our use, and so DR Church is hereby a reality.” 25
  24. 24. In this way, Denmark’s only public service station has become a billboard for the Lutheran church. Remystification after dinner The media’s presentation in the form of borrowings from the world of religion is more subtle – it is not necessarily communicated that the media expression is actually about anything religious – but it is no less widespread for that. It is the media’s infatuated treat- ment of phenomena that get a little added attraction through the help of added value: borrowings from the religious world. Religion expresses itself through phenomena such as rituals, holy places, suffering, life after death, magic and (transcendent) power with special abilities to save or condemn. Television and film have especially borrowed from religious phenomena with great success: Films such as The Sixth Sense (life after death), the Harry Potter series (magic, rituals, holy places and power with special abilities), Lord of the Rings (magic, rituals, holy places and power with special abilities), The Gift (suffering, magic, life after death), televi- sion series such as Twin Peaks (holy places, life after death, powers with special abilities) and Desperate Housewives (life after death), and the book The DaVinci Code (rituals and holy places) and all the books in the same vein. In addition, in Denmark, we have the television series Riget I-II, the documentary series Åndernes magt I-III, and the game show Den 6. sans, all of which draw on religious symbolism. Through a survey, Hjarvard found that the way we in Denmark approach spiritual questions and questions about the conflict of good and evil to a great degree hap- pens outside the institutionalized religious arena. Instead, it is the media that creates this space. Hjarvard points out how: “The institutionalized religions’ liturgy and icons are used in the media’s popular culture with great popular effect as prop collections, from which they borrow material they mix with other banal religious presentations.” Religion and its symbolic language provides the narratives the media presents great salability, and the result is that the media helps change the religious concept. In a very popularized form, religion has become a part of society’s way of telling about religion. The stories are easily digested, entertaining and exciting, all things that help make religious – or should we say the infatuated media version – attractive for the media consumer. A survey made in 2004 by DRRB/Gallup shows Danes use a third of their waking time on media – up to six hours a day. TV accounts for half, radio just under 40%, while newspa- pers and account for 5% each. To great degree, remystification is a big part of the media consumer’s day.26
  25. 25. #4: Is religion all in the mind?Do people have an inborn inclination to religion? Can religious experiences be traced backto specific parts of the brain? These are questions science has only recently begun to ask. Most agree people are not born with religion. This is supported by a psychologicalexperiment made with children aged three to seven, made by Jesse Bering, an Americanpsychologist. The children were asked to guess which of two boxes contained a hiddenball, and were told that an unseen princess would help them if they were about to guesscorrectly. The laboratory was rigged so a picture of the princess would fall to the floor ifthe child began to open the wrong box. The oldest of the children were inclined to see theevent as communication from the unseen princess, while the youngest just shrugged theirshoulders and offered physical explanations that the picture had not been firmly attached.This indicates that the belief in the supernatural first arises between three and seven yeasof age. Researchers from a university in Montréal scanned the brains of nuns who were askedto relive their most intense religious experiences. The study showed that more than adozen different neurocenters were activated, and that religion could not be traced to asingle “godspot” in the brain. In a similar study, Uffe Schott, a doctoral student, showedthat when religious people pray, it registers in the brain in the same way as an appeal toan ordinary person. In contrast, SPECT scans of meditating Buddhists and ecstatic nunsshow a muting of the neurocenter used to sense the body and navigate in physical space –something that can be experienced as detached from space and time. If religion is all in the mind, why are 80%-90% of the world’s people so religious?Some argue that there must be evolutionary advantages from religion, and a study showsthat strongly religious people live longer, on average, than less religious people. Others,such as Richard Dawkins, see religion instead as a “meme”, in which a cultural phenom-enon is reproduced and passed on. A meme does not need to benefit the “infected” person,much as a virus does not. Dawkins, in his book The God Delusion, cites a Mensa study that compares 43 studiesinto the correlation between religiosity and intelligence. In 39 of these studies, there was anegative correlation; in other words, that strong religiosity is correlated with low intelli-gence and/or education. The psychologist Julian Jaynes, in 1976, offered a controversial and much-discussedtheory of “bicameralism.” He believes the mind in prehistoric peoples was more sharplydivided than ours are, and that messages from the right brain were heard as an “innervoice of God” by the dominant left brain. Schizophrenics, who often hear inner voices,have a brain that is divided just like the people of the past, according to Jaynes. 27
  26. 26. #5: Ten roles for religion in the future What is the role of religion in the future? And in which areas might religion unfold itself in the future? Let us as futurists try to look at some social trends and what roles they can give religion. 1 As an accepted counterpart to knowledge We know more – the amount of scientific knowledge is expected to double every 15 years – and we have easier access to the world’s collected knowledge through databases such as Google. Information – and maybe also knowledge – will become a commodity. That could make easier the discussion of what is knowledge and what is faith. The consequence could be the establishment of a collective perception of what is scien- tifically proven, making it much easier for non-believers to accept religion, because then religion will, of course, be about hypotheses about things we do not actually know. In fact, faith may become the rare and interesting good. 2 As ethical judgment Religion can be used as a tool to evaluate technology. A religious, values-based or ethical attitude toward technology can make it easier to clarify whether we should use the techno- logical possibilities of, for example, biotechnology. We see this in the US debate on stem cell research. Religion could gain a greater and greater significance in discussions usually monopolized by science. 3 A resting place in the middle of acceleration Religion can relieve the stress resulting from the increasing speed of change in society. A fixed faith can give one something hold onto, and it should be something that can unite many, given the size of the stress problem, and given how widely we already seek spiri- tual solutions to the problem. 4 As a prerequisite for global business If we would take active part in globalization and exploit it, we must know who we are. And we must be able to understand others. And most of the world’s people are religious. Through countering the optics of religion, we can as global players gain a better basis for developing lasting relationships. 5 As an alternative to commercialization With continued commercialization, it becomes more relevant to ask the extent to which our society should be about money. Religion is not the only place to look for the answer, but it is one possibility.28
  27. 27. Economic growth is pushing more and more people around the world to a level whereeconomic worries fade into the background. That makes room for the more spiritual, butalso for more meaninglessness, where religion may be a tool for creating greater meaningthan, for example, a new kitchen.6 As reintroducer of the great storyOne might think individualization and religiosity are contradictory, because an individualwould not submit to fixed religious systems. But the world’s most individualistic country,the US, is also one of the most religious of the developed countries – naturally because ofrelatively weak social institutions. Maybe we again need the great community and the great story about the world(which we now find most easily in the climate problem) – at the same time we want tolive as we choose.7 As an alternative networkFor a network to work, there must be a collective activity, mentality and location. Areligion with a church meets all three requirements, so if there is a network economy, thatshould offer some possibilities for religion. The many networks we involve ourselves intoday give opportunities for connections, sparring, and different gatherings. As an adjunctto that, religion could offer the spiritual dimension, and possibly function as a collectiveplace of refuge rather than an activity.8 As a climate actorThe climate problem is on everyone’s mind. It would be natural for religions to presentethically better solutions and lead the climate debate.9 As peace negotiatorReligion very often plays a role in conflicts the world over, usually as a fanner of the flames.But it can also play a role in peace and reconciliation, as was the case in South Africa.10 As a counterweight to meaninglessnessModern life is full of questions and choices. The reaction to this situation could drivesociety back toward religion as one of the few things that gives meaning. In the future, asnow, there will be a long period at the end of life where one has nothing meaningful to doand can feel superfluous. Even though we see a gradual shift from “traditional” old age, wesee an increase in people’s church attendance when they pass age 60. The last meaningfulthing after a long life in the service of labor could be the religious. 29
  28. 28. #6: God’s tongue In recent years, religion has been prominent on the agenda around the world. Faith fills much of the public discourse, whether the discussion is about headscarves, stem cell research or sharia law. Here in Denmark, the media reports on the ailing Evangelical Lutheran church and the Danes’ newly-found religious life, and on how new religious movements such as Scientology and Faderhuset (a Danish fundamentalist Christian sect. – editor) are trying to create a platform. Religion speaks to people’s emotional lives, and in a fragmented and hectic world, it can offer peace and a since of belonging. When faith is interwoven with politics, a power- ful hybrid can result, since something very personal and emotional is linked with overall, social matters. The American political scene in recent has shown examples of this, and since trends from the US often later come to Europe, it is interesting to look at American conditions Religious rhetoric in God’s own country With George W. Bush as the president of the US, the Western world has seen religious rhetoric in politics to a greater degree than ever before. The 43rd US president is a de- clared Methodist, but he also uses his faith in his political strategy. With Bible in hand and bombastic speeches, Bush has managed to mobilize the Christian Right in the US. This group has become his voter base even though they traditionally do not vote. Until now, the group has not felt its interests were addressed by politics, but Bush has been able to change the picture. In other words, votes are to be had by using Christianity politically in the US, and Bush’s religious rhetoric has been expressed in many connections. It manifests itself in the actual stage management of the president: for example, when he holds political meet- ings in churches, or in official photographs, in which he is shown praying with a cross in the background. The Christian faith shows also shows itself in Bush’s speeches and interviews. The president is often very direct in his expression of his relationship with the Almighty, and about how God guides him in his political work. Bush often uses Christian code words in his rhetoric: he borrows words and phrases from the Bible that speak directly to the fun- damentalist conservatives, but that are not recognized by the ordinary voter. When Bush speaks of “wonder-working” power, he has borrowed the phrase from the hymn “There is Power in the Blood,” and when he speaks of “the absence of suffering” he is quoting Paul’s letter to the Romans. One thing is Bush’s self-portrayal as a good Christian, but it can be surprising that the American media largely accepts, and in some cases contributes to building his brand as the man of faith. In the front is the television network Fox News, but many other chan- nels give Bush room to promote his religious brand. He is often able to set the political agenda, without the press going to him.30
  29. 29. In other words, the American media functions in many ways like a limb of the Re-publican administration. When the press has the same mindset as those in power, thereis a serious danger that it forgets its essential function as a critical watchdog – and that isproblematic for democracy.Religion as an instrument of powerIn the US, religion, particularly Protestantism, plays a marked role in the public space.The tradition for strong Christian faith stretches back to colonization, since many were re-ligious refugees. That inheritance has marked the national spirit and the self-understand-ing Americans have today. No president has not professed Christianity and, according toCarl Pedersen, a lecturer in American history and society at the University of Copenhagen,an atheist is unlikely to ever win the presidency. The religious right’s influence has grown in the period George W. Bush has heldpower. The laws on abortion have been tightened, and the teaching of evolution has facedhard times in many states. In America’s support in fighting AIDS in Africa, Bush and hisChristian backers play a large role. Some of the money the US earmarks for preventingHIV must go to abstinence campaigns. This shows the Christian Right’s influence on poli-tics can have consequences for people all over the world. In connection with the war on terror, Bush has managed to sell the story of himself asa strong leader who, cross in hand, has taken up the fight against the enemies of freedom.When religious rhetoric is used politically, a gray zone appears. It becomes impossible tosee where the boundary lies between religious and political conviction, and that muddlesthe transparency that is essential for democracy. The Christian Right’s influence has, forexample contributed to Bush’s significant braking of stem cell research, and sex educationin the schools is often replaced with teaching of abstinence. It will continue to be important for presidential candidates, no matter their party, tobe explicit in their Christian faith to have a chance to enter the Oval Office. Hillary Clin-ton has recently regularly appeared with a cross on her necklace, and Barack Obama hasstated “We worship an awesome God in the blue states, too” in reaction to the Republicannear monopoly on being a good Christian.Europe: with God in reservePolitics and religion are also being mixed in Europe. At an EU level, there has beendebate about the extent to which the European Constitution should include refer-ences to Europe’s Christian roots. Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, spoke inthis connection: “the time of secularization, in other words, making values equal, wasimportant, but I believe we now live in a changed world in which it is incumbent onpoliticians and political documents to express the spiritual roots.” This view was supported by Italy, Spain and Poland, but most voices were critical,since recognition of Europe’s Christian heritage in the European Constitution wouldcreate an unbreakable tie between the EU and Christianity. This would complicate thepossibility of Turkey’s entry into the EU and would risk offending the many EU resi-dents from other religious faiths. Like President Bush, we can imagine here Merkelusing religion strategically. The Vatican also makes its religious influence felt through its double status asstate and church. The ethical debate in the EU is in many ways driven from without 31
  30. 30. when it comes to topics such as abortion, stem cell research and women’s rights. Since we are here speaking of religious leaders who represent a large part of the EU’s population, they have a certain degree of influence. When we turn our attention to the Danish political scene, Christian rhetoric is not widespread. Religion-sociologist Carin Laudrup from the University of Copen- hagen believes Danes are generally not interested in religion and that our religious knowledge is not comprehensive enough for a politician to be able to use religion as a strategic power instrument. Therefore, contact through Christian codes would not work in Denmark. In addition, there are simply too few Danes who would understand the message. When we see examples of religious rhetoric in Danish politics, they are much more explicit. The Danish People’s Party (DF, a right-wing populist party. – Editor) uses reli- gious rhetoric when they paint a picture of conflict between Islam and Christianity, and equate Danishness with Christianity. Party leader Pia Kjærsgaard was forced to distance herself from fellow party members’ statements tying the Muslim wearing of scarves to the swastika, brainwashing and Nazism, but at the same time, she wore a cross on her necklace. The signal value here is that there is a limit to how far one can go in attacking an- other religion, but that Christian values that count in Denmark. DF links the Christian faith, democracy and Danish, and uses it to delineate the boundary in relation to Islam. The future So the question is whether the mixing of religion and politics will grow? If we lok at the development in Demark, there is little indication it will. For DF, it may remain relevant to continue to promote opposition to Islam with the help of incrased used of political rhetoric. Even though faith in that case can play a political role, Christianity will probably continue to be percievec by most as a cultural community rather than a religious one. Danes do not tend to vote out of religious convictions; in addition, we are too secularl- ized. Unlike Americans, Danes have a tradition for approaching religion critically. So it is hard to imagine a Danish prime minister getting away with using his faith politicially. Nevertheless, religion is a visible theme, and will probably continue to be. The inter- est in the spiritual is growing in Denmark and that also has a political expression. The Christian Democrats (a declining minor party. – Editor) are trying to relaunch them- selves, and the leader of the Christian sect “Faderhuset”, Ruth Evensen, has started a political party. In Denmark, religion is, deep down, a prvate matter, but faith is good fodder for the media because it is largely emotionally based. Therefore, in the future, we will see examples of how religion gets a great deal of media convereange and thereby an place in the public sphere.32
  31. 31. #7:May we manipulate God’s creation?Throughout history, science and religion have often been in conflict with each other. Forexample, in 1633, the Catholic Church threatened to burn Galileo at the stake if he contin-ued to insist that the earth orbited the sun. And Charles Darwin’s theories on evolutionwere met with resistance by the Christian church – and still do in many religious circles. The conflict has its roots in the two ways religion and science approach the truth. Inmost religions, a god or gods, through prophets and preachers, supply the truth, and theonly thing a person can do is interpret these truths – they cannot be questioned. In con-trast, science sees the truth as something that must always be questions, tested in experi-ments and developed through research. The conflict has flared up in recent years, when biotechnology has begun to manipu-late that which many religions view as God’s creation. Stem cell research and cloning canpotentially save thousands of lives, and genetically-modified crops can benefit the envi-ronment and fight hunger. Nevertheless, many politicians are reluctant to allow researchin these fields because of direct or indirect pressure from religious circles. For example,in 2006, President Bush vetoed expanded researching stem cells because it would “cross amoral boundary.” To change that which God (or “Nature”) has created is seen by religiouspeople as unethical or even blasphemy – and the religious are often allowed to monopo-lize the ethics debate. In the issue of cloning, religious leaders are sharply divided. The Catholic Church,among others, sees cloning as unethical. But many Muslim leaders argue that cloning canhelp people be fertile and propagate, in accordance with God’s will. Other Muslim leaders,such as Egyptian Grand Mufti Nasser Farid Wassel, argue that cloning is against Islam;some even call it the work of Satan. The religious dominance of ethics is largely limited to the western world. In theeast, the ethics debate is dominated by the ethics of use, in which a technology or areaof research is not inherently ethical or unethical; it is only the use of the technology orresearch findings that can be called ethical or unethical, and this must be done on a case-by-case basis. This is very different from the western, religion-based ethics of duty, whichviews certain actions as inherently right or wrong, no matter the consequence. Manypeople, including the Danish science journalist Lone Frank in her book Klonede tigre, havenoted that this difference in ethical philosophy gives Asian countries a large competitiveadvantage in biotechnological research; an advantage that over time can be very costly tothe West – both in money and human life. 33
  32. 32. Four scenarios for religion in the future
  33. 33. scenarios For religion in tHe FUtUre conFlict The war over reality Losing our religion religiosity secUlarization The new ghettos The dream of the good life Peace36
  34. 34. Four scenarios for religion in the future:introductionIn this report, we have focused on the topic of religion by looking at some differentthemes that either religion affects or through which religion is discussed. In the secondpart of this report, we look into the future through four scenarios about religion. The starting point for the scenarios has been a discussion of several ongoing trendsin society. Some of them are more long-term and will probably characterize society’s de-velopment for many years to come. At the same time, they have consequences for societyat virtually all levels. These megatrends make it possible of us to broadly set up differentstarting points for religion in the future. The Institute works with a great many differentmegatrends and some are more relevant to the discussion about religion than others. MEGATRENDS (RELIGION) Globalization Individualization Commercialization Network thinking Modernization Polarization Complexity Technological development Immaterialization Acceleration UrbanizationWe decided three megatrends are especially important in this connection: globalization,individualization and commercialization. In addition, we have looked at a range of trends that are now spreading in society, andweighed their significance for religion and society, now and in the future. Megatrends, because of their nature, provide a fairly solid base for the scenarios, whilethe uncertainties lie in the consequences of these megatrends and in the lesser trends. Forexample, we know globalization means that physical distance means less, and that com-petition increases, but we do not know if the consequence of these phenomena will meanmore standardization or more specialization from country to country. When we look at religion, one uncertain consequence could be that the nationalreligions become stronger, because people need them as identification markers, or that thereligions die, either because the individualized way to be religious makes them superflu-ous, or because religion gathers into a global church society. 37
  35. 35. TRENDS Experience economy Corporate religion Clash of Civilizations New Age Priests in companies EU discusses religion Expansion of the EU Interest in Africa Dilution of the concept of religion Church conflicts The discussion about atheism Bush and God The four scenarios we developed are these: Scenario 1: The war for reality Scenario 2: Losing our religion Scenario 3: The new ghettos Scenario 4: The dream of the good life The scenarios offer a view of the possibilities and challenges that are present for a phe- nomenon such as religion in different editions of the future. Therefore, they are not to be seen as bugbears or ideals, but as an experiment with a time we can still manage to influ- ence the contents of. Since this report is aimed mainly at our members, which are largely companies or or- ganizations, we have given fairly great attention to the future challenges and possibilities for business and work seen in light of the religious climate.38
  36. 36. Scenario 1: The war over reality2020Stranger than fictionOccasionally a mode of thinking appears -- a paradigm that totally and comprehensivelyinfiltrates the ways society thinks and acts. The period 2001 to 2020 was infiltrated bysuch an idea, namely, Samuel Huntington’s The Clash of Civilizations. The debate has remained ubiquitous and heated up until 2020. What is a civilization?Can you reduce extremely complex social conditions down to a matter of culture? Canyou possibly brand people according to their religious and cultural background. And whyhave the principles of democracy not found a foothold in all societies of the world? Thedebate was especially heated in Europe, which was one of the most secular places in theworld back at the start of the century. In 2007, religion had very little to do with the arrangement of a European future; or sothey thought. There should be a place for everybody; and, who was to say what the rightreligion was, if one happened to be burdened with one. In the years leading up to 2020, reality tells a different story. The public debate refersto the multi-cultural society, but the reality is terror. They talk about positive synergy;they really mean fear. There are discussions about cooperation, but reality consists ofcheating and swindling; they talk about integration, but end up with ghettos. Huntington was right. It is as simple as that. Religion and cultural background gain amore and more prominent position in society, and different religions and different cul-tures are unable to find a balance.Geneva is a city in SwitzerlandThus, society has become a precarious, split place; you isolate yourself with your ownkind, and feel uncomfortable when strangers get too near. Study after study has documented that people thrive best when they are together withothers who are like them. This applies to religion, nationality and race. The connection isobvious: The more demographics are mixed in a community, the worse society functions.Experts eagerly categorize problems surrounding the situation, but the people face thetruth every day through racism and unrest. The streets are burning. Minorities champ at the bit all around the world, whilemajorities grow more and more impatient. There is a demand for action, here and now.More security. More police. More surveillance. In 2007 you could still hear concerned experts rally around human rights and theGeneva convention. Society has awakened by 2020. Geneva is just a city in Switzerland, and conventionsare out of touch with the realities of 2020. 39
  37. 37. CNN 2007 The Vatican on non-Catholic Christian congregations: “According to Catholic doctrine, these Communities do not enjoy apostolic succession in the sacrament of Orders, and are, therefore, deprived of a constitutive element of the Church. These ecclesial Communi- ties which, specifically because of the absence of the sacramental priesthood, have not preserved the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic Mystery cannot, according to Catholic doctrine, be called “Churches” in the proper sense.” CNN 2016 The Vatican on non-Catholic Christian congregations: “The head of the Coptic congregation, Zacharias II, has been refused asylum in Italy. Zacharias II is ex- pected to go to Ethiopia, where more than two million Copts have fled as a result of the Egyptian civil war. The Italian EU Commissioner for Religious Affairs bases the Italy’s refusal to admit the cleric on Zacharias II’s constant criticism of Pope Pius VIII. Religions dictate The established religions and their advocates repeatedly legitimize their view of society by citing religious dogma, especially those that make them markedly different from other religions and their followers: - The prohibition of showing images becomes more stringent—not a single pen stroke is allowed. - Abortion is wrong in any and all situations. - Sinners go to hell. - Homosexuality has become the eighth deadly sin. - Veils must be tightly bound - The casteless society benefits the casteless. - Missionaries—bearing the Word or the Sword—are our heroes. That is why the situation in 2020 is so obvious. Huntington’s depiction remains valid, now in 2020 as it did back in the 1990s. The only difference between Huntington’s book and the present is that the lines ought to be drawn more prominently. The global situation in 2020 chiefly characterized by lines drawn in the sand. Ours is the only God, and our religion creates our identity to a greater degree. Our Neighbor means those close to us, those with whom we share values and everyday lives, because experience tells us that the others will never do us any good—that it is them against us. In essence, people who practice another religion are untrustworthy. Whether it is because they are stupid, ignorant or something else remains moot. In the best case, they should be converted; in the worst case, they should be defeated. The application of history One of the concepts used to describe the development has been the use of historically significant events—which, via modern politicians and modern media-- can be revived, dusted off and applied as a basis for diverse political actions today. There was no limit to the number of historic battles, treaties, acts of genocide and treason that could be revived40
  38. 38. ”eMerging alignMents” oF civilizations Greater line thickness represents more conflict in the civilizational relationship Hindu African Western IslamicSinic Latin American Orthodox Japanese Source: ”Emerging alignments” of civilizations, per Samuel Huntington’s theory in The Clash of Civilizations (1996). 41
  39. 39. and used as a rallying point for new battles, treaties, genocide and treason. The boundaries between civilizations are moved. Many countries and organizations have long been mired in a gray area between different civilizations, e.g. Turkey and Ethio- pia. It was in these countries, among others, where there was the greatest tension and strife. On the other hand, a more peaceful society manifested itself once it was settled which cultural groups and religion belonged where -- especially once minorities in these areas came to accept the world as it is today. The bottom line is almost always the same: In the international community, the devel- opment is viewed as a zero-sum game. This means that each time someone wins in this world, there is someone loses equally much. Things went totally wrong in the global battle against CO2 emissions. The Copen- hagen Declaration was composed by India, China, Brazil and South Africa, and stated unequivocally that the CO2 contained in the atmosphere in 2009 was strictly the fault of the old OECD countries. So long as these countries refused to assume responsibility for the damage they had done, there would be no reason to undertake steps to reduce CO2 emissions in other countries. The Lukewarm War Today’s world has been divided into zones to help manage all the unrest. The separations have also resulted in a state of peace for many zones, although there is not necessarily total harmony in these areas. Global organizations such as the UN, WTO, IMF, World Bank and others are increas- ingly being reduced into empty shells in which agitation and mud flinging have become more important disciplines than compromise and politics. In reality, there is nothing called the UN in 2020. The EU, US, Japan, Australia and a couple of smaller countries founded in 2017 The Democratic World Federation (DWF). A number of African and Latin American countries were admitted as associate members, and DWF now appears to be able to take care of a number of tasks once under the aus- pices of OECD, Nato, EU, WTO and UN. As a counter move, China and Russia got a proposal ratified to move UN headquarters out of New York. This move was presumably aided by the fact that the US arrested the UN secretary general in 2016 for morally supporting terrorist action against American targets. The favorite for becoming the new UN host city is Ulan Bator, at 5:1 odds. The odds significantly dropped after the Chinese foreign minister suggested at a press conference that the Russian government was being influenced by a combination of meddling by the Orthodox patriarch Gerontius II’s call to fight against the golden hordes, and considerable volumes of vodka. During the first two decades of the 21st century, the global society was affected by what was coined The Lukewarm War. Whereas the Cold War never heated up, aside from surrogate wars fought in Africa and Asia, the conflicts between different cultures repeat- edly resulted in a long range of clashes, from diplomatic crises to terrorism, to civil war and finally war. From global to regional In the first decade of the 21st century, major companies and the greater portion of the global middle class were worried that the international rules of conduct were not be-42
  40. 40. ing observed. Conflict of every sort imaginable over international agreements made itextremely difficult to be a global company, or a global tourist. But companies slowly learned that there were fine opportunities to be had by enteringreligious and cultural currents that were strong in society. Traces of this could be spotted back in the 1990s in the US and Europe, when compa-nies began to talk more and more about value-based management. A number of com-panies slowly began in 2010 to talk about how the fundamental values of the companystemmed from local religious and cultural tradition. Eventually, we began to see how companies used priests, ministers, imams and monksas advisors to management and to employees. And since then, we have seen markeddevelopment where globalization has been replaced by a regionalization of markets. Youtrade with those you know, and those you like. The others can take care of themselves. That is why we have observed how the transport of goods and people between partsof the world has fallen significantly, while trade and cooperation within individual circlesof civilization has increased. Local and regional trade accords have been expanded. Termssuch as self-sufficient have not only begun to pop up in the energy sector, but are alsoincreasingly being used in the areas of industry and agriculture.Sign of the crossEurope is bound together by common historic and religious roots. Many politicians—butnot all—realized this as early as the first few years of the new century. Europe is Christianand has been for nearly 2000 years—and it will continue to be Christian. For that reason,Europe cannot accept countries such as Turkey, or for that matter Albania, Bosnia andKosovo, as members of the EU. The relation, however, to the two last-named countries is schizophrenic. Europeanpoliticians are busy trying to promote their roles in the foundation of Kosovo and Bosniaas independent states, while at the same time they are building mental, political, econom-ic and physical barriers between the EU and northern Africa as well as the Middle East. In reality, Europe and for that matter the EU, have also long been a house divided. Themajor constellation of problems, which have become increasingly apparent to a grow-ing number of people, was first instigated by the division of Europe into a Protestant,Catholic and Orthodox segment; and, secondly by the problem integrating people of non-Christian backgrounds. The division of Europe into Catholic and non-Catholic segments was nothing to beproud of in Europe. But the differences were simply insurmountable. A number of Catho-lic countries, led by Spain, Poland and Italy, were in direct opposition to England and thenorthern European countries, among others. It had to do with everything from legislationon abortion to the display of religious symbols to agricultural subsidies. One concern shared by Catholics and Protestants alike throughout the entire periodwas how to address challenges posed by the large Muslim minority in Europe. The basicopinion was clear: When people move to Europe, they and their descendants must beprepared to live according to and with the Euro-Christian culture. It is quite natural forthe Christian congregation to have top priority in Europe. In practical terms it means, among other things, there is a difference between the veiland the cross. Crosses were, as a result, displayed in a growing number of public places,while veils were being removed. The argument for this policy is both religious and political. 43
  41. 41. In relation to the spiritual unilateralism, integration became a process EU and Euro- pean governments agreed should occur rapidly. Several radical steps taken were used to speed assimilation: - Repatriation allowances allotted to refugees and first-generation immigrants. - Koran schools prohibited. - Mandatory oath of loyalty to the nation. - Mandatory school subject: Living in Europe. Some of them worked, some of them not so well. Critics claimed it was symbol politics and racism, while the population was satisfied in knowing that the number of cars burned by arsons was falling. Life according to scripture Religion is a determining factor in society, not only on a macro level, but also on an every- day basis. It is important to remember where you come from, which values built society, and what is right and what is wrong. Back in the 1990s, there were ethical councils and commissions everywhere in Europe, places where various researchers could air their objective evaluations of one issue or another. But that kind of objectivity, we have now realized, is an illusion—it doesn’t work. For that reason, there has been switch at universities over to experts who take a religious approach to matters. Priests, ministers and other representatives of church congregations are the new authorities. The religious dimension now fills the lives of most Europeans. In many ways, we have rediscovered the faith of our childhood. Churches and clergy help and support people throughout their lives. They explain what is right, what is wrong. And they debate within themselves and with each other, because there are still many ways to address the major questions of existence. Church and state cannot be separated, even though some have tried—as they did in Sweden and France—there are still countries who openly declare their fundamental Chris- tian principles. Easter, Christmas and Pentecost are important holy days, when shops and companies are forced to observe a day of rest. Halloween, Valentine’s Day and other prof- itable holy-day imitations created by commercial associations have become less and less acceptable. Several countries have experimented in the prohibition of this type of bogus celebration, just as there have been steps to stop other phenomena that reek of heresy. Schools bolster subjects that promote the foundation of values society is built upon. The study of Christianity was long ago re-introduced to Danish schools, along with the morning hymn and the starting of the first day of school in the local church. CNN 2020 Shinto has been reinstated as the official religion of Japan. Ambassadors from China and Korea have for- mally protested to the Japanese government. The issue has further frayed relations between the countries. This comes at a time when relations are at an historic low, after the Japanese government filed suit against Korea and China for slander in connection with the so-called war crimes allegedly committed by Japan during the Second World War.44
  42. 42. Scenario 2: Losing our religion2020During the first decade of the 21st century, people in the West encountered enormousfocus on the negative consequences of religion—a phenomenon primarily associated witheither Islam or Christianity. This development, together with a number of other drivers,has led to the situation in 2020, where the institutionalized religions are now in a deepstate of crisis. In 2008, representatives from the major institutionalized religions were again invitedto attend the EU summit. This time the representatives had prepared a decidedly politicalagenda in which the Roman Catholic ideas —with a recommendation for the foundationof a special body to advise on and orchestrate questions of sexuality and abortion—werethe most notable. A major discussion about the role of religion in the European landscapeof values and in the future constitution of the Union saw its beginnings. This created a gap between the secular EU countries and the others such as Italy,Poland and Slovenia that are still influenced by religious discourse. The gap resulted inmassive pressure placed upon Sarkozy to make room in the treaty for recognition of thereligions represented in the EU. The millions of new citizens of the EU felt under-repre-sented and the flames of debate about values were fanned all around Europe. In the secu-lar countries there were fears that balance in the EU would tip towards the east. resultingin increased power to the newer member countries. The EU was split when the French presidency ended, but during the Swedish presi-dency Frederik Reinfeldt managed to end the strife among member nations by excludingreligious groups from future summits and ushering in “The New EU,” with effect from2012. The new EU shuns religious rhetoric—which up to that point had become more andmore prevailing—and ratifies a treaty that specifically separates religion and politics. Re-ligion has no place in the public sphere, and certainly not as the problem child of politics.The argument used was: If religion gained political power, rational democracy would nolonger function. So religion is placed in the private sphere. The loss of influence caused the eastern European, predominantly-Catholic, countriescreated an EU within the EU, namely the EEU, with an ensuing slow-down of economicdevelopment in several countries, and a kind of religious revival as a result.Through these events, religion becomes significantly marginalized in the rest of Europe asthe core of the original European member countries are free to carry out a secularizationprocess, which has contained important potential for several hundred years – a seculariza-tion process that now becomes the only binding force in society.From church to nightclubInstitutionalized religion now has a lower status than ever before within this context, andis increasingly being viewed as being an anachronistic form of organization: a pacifier forthe societies where modernization and secularization have failed. 45
  43. 43. For this reason, churches—especially in the Nordic region—have given up on trying to draw people to services; many churches are closed and converted into museums or gal- leries, while even more have declared themselves willing to live by the premises of market logic. They survive by renting out their facilities to artists and event makers, or by selling to private or public buyers who transform the churches into hotels, libraries, health cen- ters or nightclubs. The many sub-segments and spurs of religious entities live a more or less hidden existence. Many of them, who have lost the foundation for an institutionalized faith as a result of the repeated dilution of values, have found spiritual niches--through individual- ized forms of alternative life perspectives--that are better and more effective than those the old religions could offer. Religion has lost influence among official bodies, but still exists under a variety of names in society’s private sphere. Phenomena—such as tai chi, astrology, feng shui, The Secret, sacral therapy, yoga and nature worship—that were in the frontier between religion and therapy at the start of the century, have now gained a foundation for emerging as religious movements without spe- cial organization, binding elements or social influence, although they have a large number of followers, each with a personal interpretation of the practice. Extensive focus on stress and lack of balance between the job and private life that occurred in the first decade of the century provided these sedating and easy-to-practice movements with many followers. One places trust in these atomized life perspectives. They also envelop and omnify civil-religious celebrations such as the Nordic mid-summer events and New Year. The Christian and Muslim sub-groupings, and the independent churches, suffer under this ubiquitous secularization. They depend on the generosity of patrons and general pub- lic acceptance, as many of them are quite small and without official recognition. Due to outside pressure, social dissenting and fundamentalist groups consolidate inwardly, while many of the liberal entities lose purchase and disappear. Let God stay at home At the start of the century, industry frantically tried to finds means of bolstering the company and brand assets--one of them was religion. After the first wave, which was mainly about creating bonds of common values, the coaching movement took over. This individualized approach to spirituality and development eventually became prominent. In the first decade of the century, everyone talked about CSR and SR, but in 2020, they talked about PR: Personal Responsibility. The general movement toward this neo-puritan way of thinking resulted in whisking away alcohol and narcotics, and the next step was to remove the uncontrollable employee. Weight-challenged, surgery-dependent, religious and individually-thinking ignora- muses are no longer welcome at the workplace, and it is the individual’s own respon- sibility to tend to her own corporal, mental and developmental health. Each employee has a PR program installed in her computer to enable her to adminis- ter to these areas., while accordingly, the Human Resource Interest group eventually merges into Recruiting at most companies. Religion is especially frowned upon at workplaces, the thinking being that you cannot serve two masters. Experience has shown that the entrance of religion into the workplace caused major problems in relation to the religious employees’ prioritizing46
  44. 44. of time and tasks. There were also troubles with the binding forces within the com-pany, caused by the differences in values among employees. God has to stay at homeor else there will be loyalty problems. The flight of religion into the private sphere creates conflict as the regular rationalapproach to existence is repeatedly challenged in everyday life. The debate heats upwithin private homes, much to the benefit of family therapists and divorce lawyers.Rational-choice psychologists and cognitive training has found a large market in theprivate sphere, a market they have taken over from preachers of religion and coacheswho were recruited at the start of the century as advisors at the workplace and inprivate life. Interest groups or associations have become another large market that has flour-ished, because they give people an opportunity to gather around something of mean-ing to them. Especially associations centered around a worthy cause have become asubstitute for churches in the case of the elderly. They can do good and find a spiritof unity while campaigning for cleaner buildings, planting trees or the production ofhand-crafted furniture based on original design. The voluntary associations are attrac-tive; the individual experiences pleasure in being part of something larger.But Muslims live in AsiaThe spread of globalization around 25 years ago meant universalization and increasedmobility. Today we live, to a greater degree, with the consequences of that development.For cultural and religious spheres, this means a clash of values, lack of national identityand fixed affiliations, thus the search for these elements in alternative identities as well asthe disassembly of the notion of permanent and stable as values. Shortly after the turn of the century, these consequences began to manifest them-selves through events like the debate on homosexuality in the Anglican Church and thecrisis arising after a Danish newspaper printed offensive caricatures of the Prophet Mo-hammed. Today the consequences have basically become counter-trends to globalization.New boundaries of opinion have appeared as substitutes for geographic boundaries, andconflicts have grown. Muslims especially feel their existence threatened by Western culture, which increas-ingly decreases leeway for Muslim values. Arguments coming from Western Europe aresolid and not based upon law decreed by a deity, religious symbols are removed frompublic spaces—objective freedom is the most important thing. Given the extreme secularization in Europe, those who arrived as immigrants with aninstitutionally-based religious perspective on life, became radical and gathered together infundamentalist groups. This applies both to Christian and Muslim immigrants, as neithergroup can gain any influence or even the right to speak. Others have become disillusionedand have been swallowed up by society as “cultural Christians” or cultural Muslims,” withnothing more than history providing religious identity. Lack of understanding about the life fundamentals adhered to by immigrantsheats up racist tendencies—on both sides. In 2019, many European countries firmlydecided to close the doors to nearly all immigration. This was possible due to themajor focus on SR and PR in the second decade of the century, a process that createdincreasingly improved possibilities for immigrants in their own countries or neigh-boring areas. 47