USC Dornsife College Of Letters Arts and Sciences

University of Southern California

Religions may have their eternal truths, but forms of religious expression are shaped by the geography, culture, economics and other factors that define a particular place. Religious organizations in the United States and China, for example, work with government agencies in very different ways. Los Angeles and Seoul have similar proportions of people who don’t identify with a religion, yet religious affiliation trends are going in opposite directions in each city. Pentecostals in Brazil and Nigeria are concurrently seeking their place in two dramatically different societies.

CRCC has studied religion in Southern California for 20 years, and our research into global Pentecostalism and religious competition and creative innovation has given our researchers expertise in Asia and other regions in the developing world. Comparing the religious landscape in various parts of the world yields useful insight into the growth and evolution of religious movements, as well as religion’s relationships with other aspects of society.

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“More than 80 percent of the population of the UAE is composed of non-citizens—a remarkable statistic that accounts, at least in part, for why the restiveness of the Arab Spring made barely a ripple here. Still, the relative tolerance of the UAE’s authoritarian regime makes for some fascinating contradictions. Non-Muslim religious movements are tightly constrained in where and how they can conduct their activities, but if they play by the rules, it’s easy to flourish.”

—Nick Street,
“Spiritual Sargasso Sea: A Long Weekend in Dubai”