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date: 21 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter attempts to design lines of thought that will enable scholars to establish and explain the phenomenon of ‘religion death.’ This requires some academic courage: in order to explain disappearance, presence needs to be established first. And establishing presence requires the resurrection of the notion of distinctiveness for concrete religious traditions. Once this heuristic step has been taken, it becomes possible to outline patterns of attrition, code-switching, and extinction. Two extreme cases form the book-ends of these processes: genocide on the one hand and mass conversion on the other. In between is a richly varied range of options in which outside forces and internal developments can be seen at work in continuing processes of change and adaptation that may lead to the disappearance of a particular religion. The chapter concludes with brief reflections on the responsibilities of scholars who work with religious communities that are rapidly disappearing.

Keywords: convergence of religions, decline of religions, realignment of religions, religion death, religious attrition, religious erosion, selective mimesis

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