Hanna de Jong-Markus

General Introduction 15 1 so-called ‘spiritual’ practices and beliefs outside the so-called ‘world religions;’ (4) the internal diversification of religious groups that were previously characterized by internal homogeneity; and (5) the religious demonopolization of countries in which one single religious tradition was dominant over the rest. (p. 148) Continuing polarisation As in other Western countries, concerns about diversity in society are regularly expressed in Dutch society and politics. In addition to worries about limited integration of migrants (CBS, 2015; European Commission, 2020), these concerns also include increasing polarisation (Bovens et al., 2014; Carothers &O’Donohue, 2019; Goodhart, 2017; De Hart, 2021; Harteveld, 2021; Schmeets & Te Riele, 2014). Factors that promote polarisation can indeed be found in the Netherlands, such as the rise of ‘high-choice media’, negative campaigning by politicians, and the salience of cultural issues (Harteveld, 2021). Still, polarisation is less pronounced in the Netherlands than in other European countries or the United States (Bovens et al., 2014; Dekker & Den Ridder, 2014; Harteveld, 2021; Reiljan, 2020 in Harteveld, 2021; cf. CBS, 2015). Moreover, compared to the United States, polarisation in Western Europe today is mostly about issues related to globalisation, such as European integration, immigration and an open economy, and less about moral-religious issues (Bovens et al., 2014). In the religious domain, a growing gap between the strong religious and others is also regularly mentioned. Research by the Netherlands Institute for Social Research (SCP) shows, for example, that secularisation continues, but that especially youth who still count themselves as members of Protestant churches are becoming more churchy and more religious (De Hart & Van Houwelingen, 2018). Moreover, in the early 21st century more tensions between strong religious groups and liberal secularism have emerged in Western societies due to Muslim immigration and increased Muslim extremism (Exalto & Bertram-Troost, 2019; Hebling & Traummüller, 2018). At the same time, these tensions— particularly the 9/11 attacks—are also leading to an increased focus on religion, in the European context too. Whereas the Council of Europe previously wanted to be neutral, it now pays attention to religion, because: … despite different views on religion at the personal and societal levels, all could agree that religion is a ‘cultural fact’ and that knowledge and understanding of religion at this level is highly relevant to good community and personal relations and is therefore a legitimate concern of public policy. (Jackson, 2009, p. 87; cf. Jackson & O’Grady, 2018)