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The state of religion around the world: Martin Palmer on BBC Radio Scotland

FaithInvest's Founding President Martin Palmer was interviewed on BBC Scotland's Sunday Morning programme yesterday, on World Religions Day, on the state of religions around the world.

Martin Palmer

Martin said that while organised religion was diminishing in the Global North, particularly northwest Europe, organised religion was very much on the rise in other parts of the world in Africa, Asia and Latin America where 'faith is not something that is just private'.

Academic Mona Siddiqui, Professor of Islamic and Interreligious Studies at the University of Edinburgh, agreed, saying it wasn't surprising that there was more cynicism of religion 'when you think about the scandals in some parts of organised religions'.

She said a lot of people have moved away from the structures of religion, but often still described themselves as belonging to a faith. They had turned away from 'organised ritualistic religion to more of what I would call their own personal relationship with God'.

Asked about the World Economic Forum's latest insight report Faith in Action report, looking at the contributions of faith groups to the multiple global crises, Martin said the publication reflected the growing recognition among secular groups of the influence and reach of faith groups.

'For most of the second half of the 20th century, religions were considered to be obsolete, completely irrelevant, dangerous, problematic, a left over from the past,' he said.

World in Action report

'With the growth of the religious environmental movement, which is now the largest environmental movement in the world, the secular powers have woken up to the fact that not many people trust them a great deal. And therefore they began to look around for allies that had a presence on the ground, that in many parts of the world are still held with a degree of respect and authority... and have networks that they cannot in their wildest dreams emulate.'

You can hear the interview by clicking below. The programme began at 8am and the interview took place at around 9.04am. It will be available to listen to until February 18, 2024.

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