In the introduction to this volume, the argument for the need for a critical approach to the study of the phenomenon of religious diversity is made. The chapter begins by tracing the recent evolution of the concept of religious diversity in the sociology of religion. It notes that the term has become increasingly popular in the 2000s. It then shifts to problematize the term religious diversity, by specifically focusing on how it affects and implicitly directs the object of study. The introduction argues that the term means different things in different contexts. Consequently, it contests that a careful methodological and theoretical examination of the term is required by this volume. The editors point to one of the overall goals of the volume which aims to promote a better awareness and self-reflexivity of the necessary choices being made in religious diversity research.
Different countries count their population and map the religious landscape in different ways. This chapter compare and contrast the empirical ways in which population level religious adherence is recorded in Denmark and New Zealand. The purpose of this chapter is to provide a critical reflexive approach to national level religious diversity statistics by undertaking a comparison of affiliation data from Denmark and New Zealand. Where New Zealand measures adherence through its national population census and conversely, Denmark measures it through localized measurements. A clash between these ideas of uniform membership and the clear distinctions between different religions with what is a messier empirical reality is documented. It is demonstrated that the method/s chosen to collect national data have consequences for scholarship because the numbers produced both influence and construct the way in which we conceptualise religious diversity and the questions scholars ask of that data.
The similarities between research in ‘new religious movements’ and radicalization has been noticed by several scholars. This article however attempt to view the entire logic of ‘radicalization controversies’ through the lens of ‘cult controveries’. With a point of departure in material from Denmark, similarities are found between the position of scholars attempting to provide nuanced understandings of complex phenomena as well as in dynamics between radical groups and counter-jihad groups. The article suggests that current understandings of processes of radicalisation, de-radicalisation and securitisation may benefit from insights from comparisons with anti-cult movements setting the agenda for public discourses on NRM movements in the 1980s.