As we report elsewhere on Ekklesia (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/17645), a new, comprehensive demographic study of more than 230 countries and territories conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life finds that more than eight-in-ten people worldwide identify with a religious group -- while the number of those unaffiliated with religion is on the rise, and now constitutes the third-largest global belief group.
The work of scholars in critical religion may indeed concentrate on the semantics of 'religion', but this is far from being 'merely' an academic issue, points out Gabrielle Desmarais from the University of Ottawa. The meaning of the word 'religion' and the language used to regulate that definition are at the forefront of a range of constitutional cases about new religious movements.
In today's world we face a vast range of human practices which are overlapping and do not function as religious or secular solely or discreetly, says Francis Stewart. He illustrates this in relation to his extensive research into punk music.