Buchbesprechung: Die Welt des 21. Jahrhunderts wird religiöser als je zuvor

Peter L. Berger (Hrsg.). The Desecularization of the World: Resurgent Religion and World Politics: The Resurgence of Religion in World Politics. William B. Eerdman: Grand Rapids, 1999. 143 Seiten. 11 Euro (Kindle-Version).

Kurz und würzig

Ich liebe kurze Bücher, das heisst 100 – 150 Seiten lang. Doch Kürze ohne Würze wäre dann doch wieder zu lange, weil zu fade. Dieses Buch gehört zur Sorte kurz & würzig. Weshalb?

  1. Eine ganz kurze Einleitung bringt das Anliegen auf den Punkt: “The news … was filled with reports of the impact of religion on politics: the evangelical upsurge in Latin America, Muslim-Christian rivalries in Africa, disputes between Arabs and Israelis, secularist-religious struggles in Turkey, Muslim fundamentalists fighting a secularizing military in Algeria, Hindu fundamentalists beating the Congress Party in India. How about taking a longer look at these phenomena?”
  2. Eine klare These lenkt die Erwartung. "My point is that the assumption that we live in a secularized world is false. The world today, with some exceptions to which I will come presently, is as furiously religious as it ever was, and in some places more so than ever."
  3. Auf wenigen Seiten wird eine komprimierte Übersicht geboten. Das gilt nicht nur für die Aufsätze, sondern auch für die einzelnen Abschnitte. Zum Beispiel diese Übersicht über die evangelikale Bewegung: "The advance of conservative Evangelicalism has been most evident in what used to be called the Third World, especially Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa, but it is also notable in the Philippines, the Pacific rim (above all Korea), and China. Sizable conversions have occurred in parts of Eastern Europe, notably Romania. And Evangelical religion can clearly claim to be the liveliest sector in the developed “Western” world, whether we speak of Britain, Holland, the United States, or Australia."
  4. Immer wieder wird die Aufmerksamkeit durch kurze Feststellungen wie diese geweckt: "The Islamic movement is occurring primarily in countries that are already Muslim or among Muslim emigrants (as in Europe), while the Evangelical movement is growing dramatically throughout the world in countries where this type of religion was previously unknown or very marginal."

Inhaltliche Schnipsel

Jeweils ein Experte für die entsprechende Religionsgemeinschaft steuerte eine Vorlesung bei. Hier sind einige interessante „Schnipsel“.


  1. Entgegen alle Erwartungen nach 1870: "The view today is rather different. Roman Catholicism is now a vastly complex religious community of one billion adherents, more than 17 per cent of the world’s population, living in virtually every country on the planet."
  2. Neudefinition bzw. Modernisierung des gesellschaftlichen Auftrags nach dem Zweiten Vatikanischen Konzil: "The Church damages its proclamation and its witness when it proposes itself as an authoritative mentor in spheres beyond its singular competence. … John Paul II has been developing a “post-Constantinian” model for twenty-first-century Catholicism."
  3. Naturrecht als übergeordnetes Argument: "The universal moral law written on the human heart is precisely that kind of “grammar” which is needed if the world is to engage this discussion of its future."

Natürlich interessierten mich die Aussagen zu den Evangelikalen besonders:

  • Die Auswirkungen des Bibellesens: "In order to participate fully in the life of their congregations, Evangelicals will want to read the Bible; this desire to read the Bible encourages literacy and, beyond this, a positive attitude toward education and self-improvement."
  • Trennung zwischen Kirche und Staat: "Evangelicals and Pentecostals have carried forward traditions of the separation of church and state. Also, they are so fragmented that they cannot hope to operate in concert to establish some kind of ideological monopoly."
  • Gesellschaftliche Auswirkungen in Südamerika: "…restoration of the family, the rejection of machismo, the adoption of economic and work disciplines and new priorities."
  • Männer und Frauen: "it consists largely of women and is run largely by men. At the same time, many different roles and responsibilities are available, and this enables all members, male and female, to participate."
  • Nigeria und Namibia: "university-educated Christian elite that practices economic discipline, emphasizes the integrity of the family, and seeks to replace corruption by trust in public and business affairs."
  • Markenzeichen: "participation, pragmatism, competition, personal discipline"


  • Einflussreicher als die Zahl: "Yet we remain bigger than our numbers. Big things seem to happen around us and to us."
  • Säkularer Staat ändert einfach den Modus der antijüdischen Ressentiments: "secular nation-state might not end anti-Jewish sentiment but merely secularize it into a new mode"
  • Vier divergierende Bewegungen: "Reform Judaism still exists. So does Orthodoxy. The state of Israel exists. The Diaspora survives."
  • Partikularismus als herkömmliche Identität, Definition als Weltbürger: "Nothing could be more striking than the fact that a people whose very raison d’être in the past was to be different, chosen, particular, should today define itself in purely universalist terms."

Säkularisiertes Europa

  • Unterscheidung Nummer 1: "two types of variable: those concerned with feelings, experience, and the more numinous religious beliefs, and those that measure religious orthodoxy, ritual participation, and institutional attachment. It is the latter, the more orthodox indicators of religious attachment, that reveal a significant degree of secularization"
  • Unterscheidung Nummer 2: "secularization as differentiation of the secular spheres from religious institutions and norms, secularization as decline of religious beliefs and practices, and secularization as marginalization of religion to a privatized sphere"
  • Dramatischer Wissensverlust bei den jüngeren Generationen: "While this may not result in an immediate loss of religious sensitivity …, it does lead to a dramatic generation-by-generation drop in religious knowledge."


  • Kombination von nationalem Selbstzweifel und Selbstvertrauen: "This combination of profound self-doubt (none of our celebrated ancestors can help us now, so our survival is based on our courage to reject the past and embrace the brave new world) and equally profound self-confidence (we shall overcome!), contradictory as it was on the surface, helped to generate a dynamic process from which a powerful new consensus began to emerge."
  • Einfluss der Christen über Universitäten: "graduates from the Christian universities provided important human resources for virtually all professions."


  • Bekenntnis zur eigenen Identität: "As a Muslim from the Sudan, I appreciate the appeal of an Islamic ideology and the promise of being true to one’s religious beliefs and deep-rooted cultural identity."
  • Unglückliches gegenseitiges Fingerzeigen: "… either that developments in Islamic politics are merely reactions to Western domination, or that anti-Islamic attitudes in Western international politics are merely reactions to the oppressive national politics and anti-Western attitudes of Islamic societies."
  • Islam und der moderne Staat: "(T)he Qur’an and Sunna (traditions of the Prophet) provide a broad general framework for the modern state under the rule of law, in accordance with principles of popular sovereignty and the political and legal accountability of the government and its officials."

Fragezeichen und Bewölkung

Es Fragezeichen wurde bei mir nicht aufgelöst. Irritiert war ich von der alten Leier von der Neutralität und Objektivität am Anfang des Buches. Der Religionssoziologie nimmt einen (vermeintlich) objektiven Stand ausserhalb ein und beschreibt „neutral“. Es werden trotzdem viele Annahmen getroffen. Auswahl der Daten und Bewertungen müssen standpunktgebunden sein.

Zudem waren zwei leichte Bewölkungen beim Lesen auszumachen. Der Aufsatz über Europa ist vom Aufbau her umständlich. Das stört den Lesefluss. Der Beitrag zu China hat mich nicht befriedigt. Das mag daran liegen, dass der Autor Sympathien für das Erstarken des Buddhismus äussert. (So schien mir zumindest.) Zudem geht er m. E. zu schnell über die letzten Jahrzehnte und insbesondere Mao Zedong hinweg. Ähnlich ging es mir beim Beitrag über den Islam.

Drei weitere Zitate

Ich konnte es nicht lassen, noch drei weitere Aussagen zu zitieren.

  • These zum Wiedererstarken der Religion: "Modernity, for fully understandable reasons, undermines all the old certainties; uncertainty is a condition that many people find very hard to bear; therefore, any movement (not only a religious one) that promises to provide or to renew certainty has a ready market."
  • These zum Initialeffekt des Evangelikalismus: "Something like Weber’s “Protestant ethic” is probably functional in an early phase of capitalist growth—an ethic, whether religiously inspired or not, that values personal discipline, hard work, frugality, and a respect for learning."
  • Moralischer Relativismus wirkt selbstzerstörerisch: "… if there is no ultimate truth to guide and direct political activity, then ideas and convictions can easily be manipulated for reasons of power. … the “procedural republic”—which removes all moral reference points from our common life on the radically relativistic grounds that a democracy cannot adjudicate between competing moral systems—is an illusion that will ultimately prove self-destructive."


Keine soziologische Analysen ohne Einbezug der Religion: “Those who neglect religion in their analyses of contemporary affairs do so at great peril.”