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Help: Religion

The world of Star Conquest is very different to the real world we inhabit. Hostile (and friendly) aliens are highly visible, it's possible to travel to another planet in minutes, and medical technology has almost eliminated most physical health issues aside from accidents.

But even today, religion is a large part of most societies and cultures. What transpired during those three hundred intervening years to make SC's world so secular?

The first, and largest, change began in the 1970s, where the American space program went from strength to strength, completing all missions and creating a passion for space exploration in the American public. By the mid-70s, the 'cold war' ended peacefully as both Soviet and American publics clamoured for cooperation in order to expand the space exploration effort.

This began a move towards a more scientifically-minded world, where people focused more on facts and experimentation than belief and faith.

By the time Moonbase Mir had been constructed in 2005 as a joint USA-USSR program, church attendance in America had dropped over 20%, with a similar drop in Russia, and less than 50% of the American public considered themselves part of a specific religious organisation. Europe had become even more secular, with less than 33% of people regularly attending any kind of church, synagogue or mosque.

The death of Pope John Paul II gave the concerned Vatican a chance to push for a more progressive Pope. While conservatives hoped for the German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, and it appeared he was the frontrunner, the nature of the secular advance gave Portuguese Cardinal Jose da Cruz Policarpo enough weight to be inaugurated as Pope Paul VII, choosing the name to indicate his desire to help the Church remain valid and progressive in the changing world.

Over the next two decades, the Vatican spread feelers to many of the disparate sects of Christianity across the globe at Pope Paul VII's command, and in 2022 the result of this was a newly unified Christian Church. While it caused much consternation and large numbers of Roman Catholics were unhappy, Pope Paul VII announced that the Roman Catholic Church must adapt to the times; that for all intents and purposes, there was now only Christianity.

His speech at the holy see in December of 2022 calmed the holdouts and fundamentalists, telling them that there must be no division in this time of trouble, no separation from the whole, Christianity must stand together to follow His Chosen Path into a new era. It was a rousing success, and though there were many minor issues afterward, historians point to it as the singular moment where Christianity stopped being at risk of irrelevance. Few at the time realised quite how far the already progressive Pope was willing to go, however.

Due to medical advances, the average lifespan by 2030 had increased significantly, and the elderly Pope celebrated his 100th birthday in 2036 by finally making public his long-standing plan - to reach out towards the Jewish people (as he had done as Cardinal) - stating that people of all faiths must stand together as one. He began work to reshape the religion as one of personal faith and personal truth, as opposed to the garish and pompous ceremonial organisation that it had become over the centuries.

By 2039, his overarching plan was finally revealed, as secret talks with rabbis of the Jewish diaspora began to bear fruit. The two major Abrahamic faiths united under the banner of "His Chosen Path", though there were many who chafed at this, and many groups who found it abhorrent to do so. Even so, this newly combined Abrahamic faith sent a mission to the lunar colony as an example of unity, which was well received.

Sadly, while he had remained relatively healthy into his 100th year, the decade that followed and the work that lay ahead of him in keeping the united faiths together proved too much, and in 2047 Pope Paul VII died peacefully in his sleep at the age of 111.

The plans he put in motion continued after his death, with the newly inaugurated Pope Leo XIV, a young candidate of 52, stating that he planned to continue to help the Church remain progressive. After decades of work, in 2094 the Islamic faith - which had been losing ground as quickly as Christianity and Judaism - became a part of the increasingly diverse "His Chosen Path".

With the Abrahamic religions now all falling under the umbrella term of "His Chosen Path", the estimated religious population of Earth is steady at 55%, while the Lunar and Martian colonies are fairly low at approximately 25% each.

While this had been going on for the past 70+ years, the smaller religions had also been changing in order to diversify and remain important in an increasingly secular world.

Hinduism, Buddhism, Shinto and many of the traditional Eastern religions had formed a loose-knit collective and as the years passed became increasingly entwined with one another, until by 2100 there was no real distinction between them in any meaningful way beyond how a person decided to practice.

By the great Colonisation Rush of 2142, practitioners of at least some element of "His Chosen Path" had decreased to 43% on Earth itself, but had fallen to negligible levels on both the Lunar Colony and Mars. Only a quarter of Alpha Centauri's population were religious.

With major cultural and scientific changes, even "His Chosen Path" found it difficult to maintain relevance with the push for colonisation of other worlds, and while there was much trepidation, the loose-knit Eastern spiritual collective was absorbed into "His Chosen Path", creating a singular religious entity.

The colonisation effort pushed (Old) Earth into a Great Depression, and spirituality grows to nearly 60% on the planet, while elsewhere the newly-formed Alliance of ExtraSolar Unions has less than 20% of its population claiming to be in some way spiritual or religious.

With the Hispanic election within Old Earth's United Nations in 2200, religious belief falls again as the focus shifts to a more interstellar-focused civilisation, with the new "League of Old Earth Democracies" having a religious population of less than 40%.

When the second wave of colonies were abandoned and formed the Confederation of Fringe Worlds in 2238, they had even fewer religious individuals, with less than 10% admitting to some form of spiritual faith.

By the time of modern Star Conquest in 2312, faith is a highly personal thing. "His Chosen Path" does not advocate missionaries or attempting to convert others, but instead asks people to focus on their own spiritual growth. The majority of religious individuals, even if they may follow aspects of His Chosen Path that, to us in the real world, seem like a specific religion or sect, are still followers of His Chosen Path first, and do not make an effort to publicise their religious leanings except under very specific circumstances.

The approximate religious breakdowns of the alliances today are as follows:

EAOS: less than 1% are religious or spiritual, with Father Paul Grahams being a public exception, and inducted into the EAOS as a token of goodwill, as he is also a scientist.

League: 40% of Old Earth's population have some form of religious faith, while the rest of the League colonies are less than 25%.

AEU: 20% of the population have some form of religious faith.

Fringe: 15% of the population have some form of religious faith.

Mutuality: less than 5% of the population have some form of religious faith.

Unregistered: no data available

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