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ARC's consultants edit new ATLAS OF RELIGION

April 21 2007:

Religions and environmental protection

Did you know that:

* each year around 73 million new Bibles and 125 million New Testaments are printed - making them still the best-selling books in the world?

* Or that in 2005 one Christian aid agency spent $1.97 billion on relief work around the world, helping people in need, regardless of their faith?

* Or that since 1974, over 300 Islamic Banks – who do not charge interest but take a share in profits instead – have been created, handling $250 billion in assets?

* Or that in the past hundred years, secular ideologies – Marxism, Fascism, nationalism for example – have murdered more members of religions and destroyed more religious buildings and books than in the whole of the rest of recorded history?

Order The Atlas of Religion online for a 10% discount from Earthscan.
Link here for the map of Buddhism: just one of 30 maps in the Atlas.
* Or that of the 2.2 billion Christians in the world, half are Catholics, making this the largest single organisation in the world?

* Or that in the decade from 1991 to 2001 the number of Hindus in Canada rose by 89%?

* Or that Christian giving in 2005 was £297 billion world wide?

* Or that the major religions of the world own around 7% of the habitable surface of the planet – making them one of the most important stakeholders in environmental issues?

* Or that there are more missionaries per head in the Pacific Islands than there are anywhere else in the world except Greenland? * Or that many of the world’s current conflicts – the Iraq civil strife; the problems for many in Europe of admitting Muslim Turkey to the EU; that the split between Russia and the rest of Europe – have their roots in religious conflicts dating back in some cases to the 7th century AD?

* Or that more Jews live in the USA than in Israel?

* Or that all these facts and more can be found in the new Atlas of Religion?

The ground-breaking Atlas of Religion, compiled and edited by Joanne O’Brien and Martin Palmer of ARC, draws upon a unique database of religious data as well as contact with hundreds of religious organisations around the world.

The book includes 30 maps as well as many other graphics and tables to show how religions have spread their influence through broadcasting, missionary work, schooling and banking; how they relate to government, laws and world hunger; and the role they play in wars.

It traces the emergence of new religious movements, the survival of traditional beliefs, and the presence of atheism and agnosticism. It also maps the origins of each of the major religions as well as their heartlands and the sacred places of the world. For essential background there is also a table on the core beliefs of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Sikhism and Daoism.

"O'Brien and Palmer offer a fascinating and thoroughgoing snapshot of the world religions' contemporary dispersion, sociopolitical complexities, and global impact... Easy-to-read charts and strong use of color expedite comprehension. Highly recommended for public libraries and collections focusing on religion, political science, and cultural studies." LIBRARY JOURNAL, June 15, 2007.
Click here to explore the map of Buddhism and here to explore the map of Islam.

The maps include details of:

1. The dramatic growth of Islamic banking, Christian finance and ethical investment movements within religions is something the wider world has yet to awaken to.

2. The sheer scale of religious funding and support of those suffering HIV/AIDS, and the level of development funding from Islam and Christianity are rarely acknowledged.

3. ‘Holy Natural’ and 'Environmental Protection’ record the dramatic rise in the extent and level of the role of religions in the environment movement.

4. From marxism to fascism, the expectation developed over the last 100 years was that religion would be thrown aside as an intellectual and social prop that would no longer be needed. Instead it has tended to be ideologies that have faded. The map ‘Emerging from prosecution’ charts the unprecedented levels of persecution against all major religions that has taken place since the beginning of the 20th century, and the dramatic recovery from such attacks by all the major faiths.

5. In most of the past 100 years we saw secular ideologies attacking religions, today that has been replaced by religions attacking secular societies, or in conflict with other religious communities and identities. The map on ‘Faultlines’ highlights the deep and ancient faultlines that have their origins in religious tensions.

6. Other maps include: Popular Religions / Christianity / Islam / Hinduism / Buddhism / Judaism / Sikhism / Traditional Beliefs / Catholicism / New Religious Movements / New Departures / Non-Believers / State Attitudes to Religion / Religious Education / Christian Missionaries / The World / Christian Broadcasting / Islamic Law / Equal Rites / Fundamentals of the Faiths

Joanne O’Brien and Martin Palmer are advisers for the International Consultancy on Religion, Education and Culture (ICOREC) and consultants to WWF, the World Bank, the World Council of Churches, UNESCO and UNDP. Martin is also a broadcaster for the BBC.

The Atlas of Religion (£12.99) is published by Earthscan (excl USA / Can). Order online for a 10% discount at

Click here to explore the map of Buddhism.

Click here to explore the map of Islam.

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Vision and Strategy
ARC's vision is of people, through their beliefs, treading more gently upon the earth. Link here to find out how we achieve this.
May 14 2007:
Whales, turtles and timber: news from Indonesia
It is saving whales in Nusa Tenggara Province, it has protected rare turtles on Bali Island, and it is encouraging the use of sustainable timber in Aceh Province… The “religions approach” is being applied to conservation projects all over Indonesia, and it seems that in many places we are beginning to see successes.
August 21 2007:
Faiths protect Forests: English press release
An unlikely alliance between Shinto priests in Japan and the Lutheran Church of Sweden has led to a meeting next week that will lead to millions of hectares of forests around the world being managed according to ecological principles.