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God Is Back: How the Global Revival of Faith Is Changing the World

3.8  ·  Rating details ·  166 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews
A landmark examination of the resurgence of faith around the globe
The Editor in Chief of "The Economist" and its Lexington columnist show how the global rise of religion will dramatically impact our century in "God Is Back." Contrary to the popular assumption that modernism would lead to the rejection of faith, American-style evangelism has sparked a global revival. On t
ebook, 416 pages
Published April 1st 2009 by Penguin Books
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Oct 30, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: america
I read this book because I heard an interview with one of its authors on Radio New Zealand (with Kim Hill). It was a really interesting interview.

So after it was promoted in NZ, I bought the book in Australia, and have now finished it. I'm interested - and a little disappointed - to find that there's not a single paragraph in there about what's going on in Australia, NZ and the Pacific Islands. A paragraph would have pacified me. Otherwise, it doesn't feel like a true overview of 'the world', as
Mikey B.
Dec 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: journalism, religion
An interesting and convincing explanation of how secular Europe (Western Europe at that) is really the anomaly and religion fixates the remainder of the world (Thank God for the Europeans!).

This book explains the presence and the popularity of religion in the U.S. But I feel the authors paint the U.S. as overly religious and zealot. Are there not vast tracts of secularism on the East and West coasts? Some have said that the U.S. is the most religiously diverse nation on the planet. And the autho
Mar 22, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics
The title of this book is a little misleading, because it's less about faith in general and more about Christianity, Protestantism specifically, with a side order of Islamic fundamentalism. That said, one can understand why, given the simultaneous rise of Christian and Islamic fundamentalists in America and the Middle East. It's an incredibly topical issue at the moment.

The authors argue that it's not just the issue of faith that is on the rise, but a very specific kind of faith - American-style
Dec 28, 2010 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Off this review:

Well, there are many distinctive and interesting things going on in America, many things that make it religious. It’s certainly not just the relatively low life expectancy and so on. It’s other things too. And these other things are discussed quite a lot in the last book on my list—a book by two British journalists, John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge, called "God is Back: How the Global Revival in Faith is Changing the World". It came out a couple of weeks ago, the title is
Oct 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book investigates the reasons for, and possible consequences of, the global resurgence of religion at the beginning of the 21st century. The first half of the book concentrates on a comparison between religion in America and Europe, focusing on why Americans remain overwhelmingly religious people while Europeans generally are not interested in the subject. The second half of the book focuses on how religion plays out in the non-Western world, and why the authors believe the American, rather ...more
John Kennedy
May 20, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book is exhaustively researched and has keen perspective on the history of U.S. religion. The authors, one a Catholic and one an atheist, give an evenhanded treatment of Christianity as well as Islam. The authros contend that these two religions will dominate thinking on the world stage for years to come. Rather than atheists becoming more prominent, the book points out that religious beliefs will increasingly be at the root of what drives the world's economy and politics. The insights into ...more
Shaun Liu
May 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book provides a fairly even-handed analysis of the power of religion in influencing the global political economy. The discussion on refuting the secularization thesis is fairly familiar to me already (i.e. increasing modernity does not necessarily mean inevitable secularization), showing how the religious America where modernity and religiosity coexist and thrive together is not an oddity but actually a harbringer of what is happening in the global South as well. The key for religion thrivi ...more
Ginger Heskett
I registered a book at!
Os dois dados mais importantes para compreender este livro estão logo na capa e na contracapa: dois jornalistas (ai) americanos (ai, ai) escrevem sobre "the global rise of faith" e sobre "changing the world". Basta olhar para o número de páginas (menos de 400) e perceber que toda a coisa já corre mal à partida. Depois vem o índice: dos doze capítulos sobre a "globalização" da fé, oito são exclusivamente sobre a América. E se olharmos para a introdução temos a primeira pista de diplomacia desprop ...more
Titus Hjelm
The novelist John Lanchester once said of The Economist that 'the first 80 percent of almost every article is full of fresh things. But every single piece, on every single subject, reaches the same conclusion. Whatever you're reading about, it turns out the conclusion is the same: more liberalisation, more competition, more free markets. Lanchester's point applies to Is God back as well, although the percentage of 'fresh things' is well below 80, and the fact-finding that Lanchester praises isn' ...more
Joakim Wendell
This is a well-written book with lots of interesting empirical evidence for the global resurgence of religion, but the theoretical underpinnings of the two authors' arguments are seriously flawed and the historical facts presented are biased in order to prove the authors' points. They present the religious history of America as essentially peaceful and pluralistic, while Europe is portrayed as the cesspool of religious strife. This is supposed to explain the spread of atheism in Europe, and the ...more
Jeremy Garber
An intelligent, even-handed look at the influence of religion on international politics and commerce today (despite the flamboyant title). Micklethwait and Woolridge, writers for The Economist, did interviews all over the world and compiled mountains of data to examine the reality of the resurgence of religion. Their basic argument is that 1) religion is here to stay, 2) sometimes that’s good and sometimes that’s bad (an argument lost on non-thinking polemicists on both sides), and 3) that Ameri ...more
David Cheshire
Nov 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book clarified what it is about the USA and religion, or rather Christianity. The strict separation of church from state produced from the outset a free, open market in faith and the people of faith responded enthusiastcially. Also since religion wasn't tied to an oppressive state (as frequently in Europe) modern Americans became much less inclined to embrace secularism as the natural partner of modernisation and democratisation (as in Europe). Hence the most powerful free-market democracy ...more
Sep 27, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’m glad I read the book. The authors don’t go incredibly deep - but they are broad and insightful as they contemplate what is happening on earth regarding religions. Because of their perspective as journalists on this beat, they are pretty well informed. I found their thoughts very provoking and challenging (in the best of ways). There is a much heavier focus on Europe and the Middle East than there is on most of the southern hemisphere - but this is not a weakness. Instead they are focusing th ...more
Feb 03, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010-books
Of puritains and pornographers. That is the land of america and the reason we are more "religious" then our secular european counterparts. Since america is a free market so does our preachers try to hawk their religion- constantly changing styles as to attract the next generation. The last part of the book is the true gem, because it highlights reasons why (though contrary to what most people think) Christianity is here to stay, even though Islam is the fastest growing religion. A good book for ...more
Christopher Myrick
From the D.C. bureau chief and editor of the Economist, reads as smoothly and entertainingly as the newspaper. Although the narrative begins in China, it's regrettably more of a study of the American marketplace for religion than a demonstration of how a revival of religion is changing the world. A good read for activist secularists, non-judgmentally explaining the mindset and appeal of evangelical and Muslim revivalists. The demographics discussed are more depressing, perhaps, for old-world mai ...more
Oct 05, 2009 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spirituality
Most recent edition of America, National Catholic Weekly, has a thoughtful article on this book. In a nutshell, the book's authors argue that far from diminishing practice of religion around the world, modern secularism has in fact promoted a revival in religious commitment. Micklethwait is editor of The Economist, and therefore takes a non-theological approach to his subject. (On a personal note, I find this argument intriguing since the pastor at church I attend is prone to complaining about t ...more
Oct 30, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a well-written book about an interesting topic. I wonder about the staying power of the book, though. It seems like the type of work that will need to be updated every 5 years to be worth reading. I appreciated that the authors treated religious people and beliefs with respect. They repeatedly fell into the USA=Christians error, but this was mostly in the context of how the US is perceived abroad.
Alex Reinhart
Apr 08, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating book if you're interested in the interaction of religion and society. However, it has a few flaws; for example, the exhaustive research is almost overwhelming to read (there hundreds of tidbits about historical events, churches, important people, and so on), and sometimes isn't tied together effectively to support the authors' main point.

Nevertheless, you will leave this book with many interesting questions to ponder, and with amusing anecdotes to use at cocktail parties.
Mar 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
Really wanted to read this, especially shortly after the controversy about the 2011 Census' (UK) Question 12: "What is your religion?" Maybe the West really is re-discovering its Christian roots?

See my progress notes for quotes and other notes. It was an interesting read, written by a Christian and an atheist. Lots of data about Christian America and an interesting part about Bible vs. Koran.
Good writing style, not dry.
Neil Crocker
John Micklethwait (editor in chief at The Economist) and Adrian Woolridge (Washington bureau chief for The Economist) have jammed at lot of information and insights into a 400-page tome. Why is religion flourishing in America? Why is religion going away in Europe? How and why is Islam growing? Is religion compatible with modernity? etc. etc. A really good read for the times. I personally feel their information is more compelling than their conclusions.
Linda Heaney
Nov 27, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really liked this book that says God is back, he/she is not always the reason for trouble, but if there’s trouble and religion, the trouble gets worse. Religion is very entrepreneurial; and the U.S. would be wise to export it’s pluralism and put more U.S. Muslims out there to show the world. The writers work for The Economist.
Mar 10, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The authors are both a little too fond of modernity and "Progress" for my taste, but they're from the Economist, so you kinda expect it.

Meticulous research, clever writing, enormous in scope... It's certainly worth reading. But if you have Porcher proclivities (like I do) prepare to be annoyed at several points.
Jun 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
I think this book should be required reading for pretty much anyone who grew up in the Northeast. We just don't get the exposure to the type of religion that Micklethwait and Wooldridge are studying. This is an absolutely fascinating read about American-style religion and how it is having an increasing impact on the world. Highly recommended.
Dec 04, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Economist normally has little time for religion, so it was wonderful to see them tackle religion in a manner that was both fascinating and fair. Like a giant Economist article, it gives scope to the big issues, and life to the detail, of the global rise of aggressive, American-style religion.
Feb 14, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great Book, well worth the read, though as an Insider there are perspectives that I would have that would defiantly be different, but posses some really interesting scenarios.
Sep 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Extremely insightful, considering it was written by journalist for the Economist.
J. M.
May 17, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Explains strange marriage of capitalistic business practices and religion in America.
Aug 20, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Two authors from The Economist make the great point that the US version of religious freedom is rising along with all other aspects of globalization. A heavy but interesting, solid read.
Aaron Cash
Aug 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an astonishing book. Looking at the great growth in the Christian faith due to the rise in memberships, corporate activity and leadership growth schemes.
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