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Two New Religions – Sort Of [Product Update]

October 5, 2022
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In this product update, Diversity Atlas’ Cultural Attaché, Quincy Hall, introduces the two new Worldviews added to the survey platform.

We already have 7900 options of religion/worldview in our Diversity Atlas survey, including more than 100 Catholic denominations and branches and a whole heap of secularist choices such as Humanism, Secularism and more recent movements such as Jedi, Dudeism and Pastafarianism.  But such is the depth of humanity’s ability to wonder and subscribe, it’s not enough.  We’ll always be adding, and we added two this month. 

One came about as a result of reading anonymous feedback from our participants, some of which expressed that the plethora of Christian options we provide (eg: Christian – Orthodox – Russian Orthodox, or Christian – Protestant – Uniting Church) felt too much like pigeon-holing.  Whilst we do offer the choice to just select ‘Christianity’, even that, some participants pointed out, felt like it was possibly aligning itself to (and in a way, authenticating or enabling) mainstream Christian churches.  The ‘fix’ to this was inspired by high selections of another worldview, namely, ‘Spiritual – Self Defined’.  Using that popular selection as a cue, we have added ‘Christianity – Self Defined’ to offer people the chance to express their Christianity without having to feel constrained by or limited to any organised branch of Christianity. It remains to be seen if the selection will be popular, but we will keep a close eye on this in the coming months.  And who knows, maybe ‘Buddhism – Self Defined’ (among others) may be on the cards soon as well.

Our second new entry again came from participant feedback.  We were contacted by a customer who passed on a message from one of their staff that we did not include IETSISM, and, after some quick research by our database team and some liaison with our religious scholars and advisors, we have added it in. Translated into English, IETSISM means SOMETHING-ISM and can broadly be described as a worldview that posits that although an individual may reject the notion that God, Gods or Supreme Beings (sentient or not) exist in the manner by which mainstream religion/s and/or spiritual movements may express, define or believe to be true, they do believe that there is something out there; a higher power of some sort.  It’s a kind of ‘spiritual but not religious’ worldview, but with what we think is an awesome name – Ietsism – named so as the movement was born in the Netherlands and ‘iets’ is the Dutch word for ‘something’. 

Here’s a line from the Wikipedia entry on Ietsism that stood out:

“As ietsists cannot be neatly classified as religious or nonreligious, ietsism is somewhat notorious for blighting statistics on religious demographics. Hence labeling ietsists as either religious or nonreligious will tilt the demographic balance for those countries to either predominantly religious or predominantly nonreligious.”

In our Diversity Atlas, this ‘blighting of statistics’ is not a ‘thing’. Sorting the data by theism, agnosticism, atheism and so on is just one method by which we can analyse results to paint a picture of a cohort’s identity, but, we have plenty of others as well (eg: ‘Abrahamic’, ‘Confucianist’ and so on).  What matters to us is the counting, the hi-res data that allows people to pick more than one ‘worldview’ to express their identity without ever feeling limited to one-thing, and allowing our customers to see proper results in a variety of aggregated and de-aggregated ways. People are complex (thankfully), and as data-gatherers, we need to make space for people to, as best as we can, identify / select their singular or multiple worldviews (or absence thereof), even if it’s as vague, broad and beautiful as believing that there’s something up there that they do not need or even perhaps want to define. 

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