In this March-April 2013 issue, which Futuribles is devoting very largely to the social and political impact of religions, François Mabille provides a conspectus of the recent development of religions worldwide and presents a number of possible future scenarios for several of them. He begins by reminding us which are the numerically dominant religions (Christianity, Islam, Hinduism etc.), how they are distributed geographically and how that distribution has changed over a period of almost a century. He stresses, in passing, the difficulties inherent in statistical assessments of this kind, in which the data may be incomplete or biased, or mask more subtle developments.
Mabille goes on to analyse four major trends that have manifested themselves in the worldwide spread of religious influence: the return of religion to the political agenda, the broadening of the spectrum of religious movements, the increasing political role of religious diasporas, and the vitality of both Islam and Christianity. These are four developments which complicate the potential process of secularization. Lastly, Mabille turns a spotlight on the futures of Catholicism (“from crisis to decline?”), of Islam (“secularism, fundamentalism or liberalism?”) and of Buddhism with a Western slant.