Irish atheist activists, I have two pieces of very BAD news. When you are finished, you will in no mood to engage in Irish dancing.
First, I know this is a bitter pill to swallow, but most Irish citizens find atheism to be BORING and Google searches for the terms "atheism" and "atheist" are down. . See for yourself below via the Google trends links directly below:
Searches for the term atheism at Google Ireland - Google trends
Google searches for the term atheist at Google Ireland - Google trends
Second, Irish atheist activists are going to face some tough competitors in the 21st century.
Consider information from an article on pentecostalism in Ireland:
- In 1980 there were 10,000 evangelicals in the Republic
- In 2000 there were 30,000 evangelicals in the Republic
- There are about 450 evangelical churches in the Republic today
- 60% of those churches have existed for less than 10 years
British atheism is crumbling. British Evangelical Christianity is on the rise!
Even the atheism loving BBC now provides ammunition to those who say that UK atheists will face an uphill battle in coming years
A thermonuclear bomb of Christianity has hit the region formerly known as "godless Britain"
So if the economy is good and brings more immigrants to your country, you will face tougher competition. If the economy is bad, then people will tend to seek God more diligently. Either way, it is bad news for Irish atheism!
Next, in the Western World, irreligious people have a sub-replacement level of children while religious people - especially immigrants - have higher fertility rates. See: Atheism and fertility rates
On December 23, 2012, Professor Eric Kaufmann who teaches at Birbeck College, University of London wrote:
I argue that 97% of the world's population growth is taking place in the developing world, where 95% of people are religious.At a conference Kaufmann saidof religious demographic projections concerning the 21st century:
On the other hand, the secular West and East Asia has very low fertility and a rapidly aging population... In the coming decades, the developed world's demand for workers to pay its pensions and work in its service sector will soar alongside the booming supply of young people in the third world. Ergo, we can expect significant immigration to the secular West which will import religious revival on the back of ethnic change. In addition, those with religious beliefs tend to have higher birth rates than the secular population, with fundamentalists having far larger families. The epicentre of these trends will be in immigration gateway cities like New York (a third white), Amsterdam (half Dutch), Los Angeles (28% white), and London, 45% white British.
Part of the reason I think demography is very important, at least if we are going to speak about the future, is that it is the most predictable of the social sciences.Kaufmann wrote about Rurope:
...if you look at a population and its age structure now. You can tell a lot about the future. ...So by looking at the relative age structure of different populations you can already say a lot about the future...
...Religious fundamentalism is going to be on the increase in the future and not just out there in the developing world..., but in the developed world as well.
We have performed these unprecedented analyses on several cases. Austria offers us a window into what the future holds. Its census question on religious affiliation permits us to perform cohort component projections, which show the secular population plateauing by 2050, or as early as 2021 if secularism fails to attract lapsed Christians and new Muslim immigrants at the same rate as it has in the past. (Goujon, Skirbekk et al. 2006).With the exception of Northern Ireland which has a slight higher percentage of Protestants compared to Roman Catholics, Ireland is a majority Catholic country. It's anyone's guess that is going to happen in Ireland in terms of the current trend of nominal Catholics becoming "lapsed Catholics", non-religious, agnostics or atheists. It all depends on: how the Catholic church reacts to addressing past or possible future scandals; other developments within Catholicism and what happens in the broader culture.
This task will arguably become far more difficult as the supply of nominal Christians dries up while more secularisation-resistant Muslims and committed rump Christians comprise an increasing share of the population
As an evangelical Christian, should Jesus tarry, I hope evangelicalism makes inroads in terms of Catholics becoming evangelical Christians. Evangelical Christians engage in more evangelism by far than Anglicans. In Latin America and various regions of the USA evangelicals have been very successful in terms of attracting many Catholics to evangelicalism. Hopefully, past feuding between Protestants and Catholics in Ireland does not hinder evangelicals attracting Catholic converts to a great degree.
In areas where Catholicism has face evangelical competition they have adapted somewhat to avoid a higher degree of losses. For example, Pew Forum reports: "According to the 2000 census, 81% of the population is Catholic and more than 7% is Protestant. A 2003 survey finds that 15% of Philippine Catholics are charismatic, while more than a third of non-Catholic Christians are pentecostal or charismatic. The survey also finds that Filipinos with higher education are overrepresented in the pentecostal and charismatic population (Kessler and Rüland 2006)."
Lastly, as time goes no, the supply of nominal Catholics may dry up so the rate of secularization in Ireland could plateau or even reverse. Of course, immigration policy and the success of evangelical Christians in attracting Catholics/irreligious is going to play a role in this matter.