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Against the current

In the 1960s sociologists predicted that modernisation would automatically lead to secularisation. With the exception of Europe this has not happened. Peter Berger asks why they (and he) were wrong, and considers the likely impact of the Islamic and evangelical movements on world politics

By Peter Berger   March 1997

A few years ago there landed on my desk the first volume produced by something called the Fundamentalism Project. The volume-generously funded by the MacArthur Foundation-was very big, a “book-weapon” type with which one could cause a serious injury. I asked myself: why would the MacArthur Foundation pay out several million dollars to support an international study of religious fundamentalists? Two answers came to mind. The most obvious one was that the MacArthur Foundation is a progressive outfit, which understands fundamentalists to be anti-progressive; the project, then, was a matter of knowing one’s enemies. The second answer was more revealing:…

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