Assess and illustrate the changing nature of the secularisation deabte

 Bryan Wilson posits three dimensions on which secularization may be analysed, namely religious practice, religious organization and religious thought. Religious practice refers to the number of members within a particular religious organization as well as the number of individuals that are present for the actual participation in the practice.

Religious organization refers to the amount of influence the Church has on the operation of a society. Religious thought refers to the concept of God and good and evil and the amount of value that each member of society places in these concepts. (Livesey p.5) Wilson noted that this third ingredient is vital in the discussion of secularisation since both religious practices and religious organizations may be on the decline but in the hearts of the individual members of society religious thought could be increasing in leaps and bounds.

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Peter Berger (as quoted in Aldridge 2000, p.78) defines secularisation as “the process by which sectors of society and culture are removed from the domination of religious institutions and symbols.” Consistent with this idea, Wilson (as quoted in Aldridge 2000) defines secularization as “the process by which religious thinking, practice and institutions lose social significance.”

Has secularization indeed taken root in today’s society? On the surface it appears that there are fewer persons attending church, fewer marriages taking place, fewer men willing to make a profession in the clergy and fewer individuals regarding Christian celebrations as meaningful. However, is there any empirical evidence to ascertain that these factors are in fact truth? Has the indoctrination of empirical research and industrialization influenced secularization, defined broadly as “religious decline” (Haralambos, p.

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