“The Atlas of Religion,” Joanne O'Brien & Martin Palmer

openDemocracy Opendemocracy
7 May 2007


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"The Atlas of Religion"

Joanne O'Brien & Martin Palmer

Earthscan | May 2007 | ISBN 0520249178

Extracts from "Introduction" (Joanne O'Brien & Martin Palmer):

"It was a fond hope of many secular ideologies in the last 100 years that 'religion will wither and die' in the light of social and technological advancements. From marxism to fascism, the expectation was that religion would be thrown aside as an emotional and intellectual prop that was no longer needed. This expectation was largely turned on its head during the last 20 years, and continues to be so. Instead, it had tended to be the ideologies that have faded, not the religions."

"The recent rise of terrorists claiming to act in the name of Islam, the resurgence of religious conflict in a previously stable and multi-faith Indonesia, or the role of militant Buddhism in Sri Lanka's longest running civil war underlines why we all need to know and understand more about the religious nature of the world today."

"Religions are able to convince us that they are unchanging, yet they survive and spread precisely because they are constantly adapting."

"We believe that ... the role of religion will continue to grow and to have increased influence upon other aspects of society. Some will view this with alarm, others with a sense of success. From our perspective, we can but note that the religions are the world's oldest human institutions. They have lasted for millennia because they understand what it is to be human and they know how to help us."

A selection of maps from The Atlas of Religion:

Islam: There are 1.34 billion Muslims worldwide, 20% of the world's population. Islam is the state religion of 25 countries. © Myriad Editions Ltd. - CLICK HERE TO EXPLORE THE ISLAM MAP -

Roots and Branches: Yesterday's revolution can be today's orthodoxy. Some new movements have grown to become the most popular religion in a state. © Myriad Editions Ltd. - CLICK HERE TO EXPLORE THE ROOTS AND BRANCHES MAP -


Faultlines: Historical feuds and struggles between religions still shape many contemporary events around the world. © Myriad Editions Ltd. - CLICK HERE TO EXPLORE THE FAULTLINES MAP -

State Attitudes to Religion: Nearly a quarter of the world's states have formal links with a religion. Some have links with more than one. A few actively discriminate against all religions. © Myriad Editions Ltd. - CLICK HERE TO EXPLORE THE STATE ATTITUDES TO RELIGION MAP -

With thanks to Myriad Editions and Earthscan.

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