If the success of a religion is measured in terms of numbers of adherents, than the Zoroastrians are in deep trouble. As an article in today's New Your Times points out, the numbers of Zoroastrians worldwide has dwindled to less than 200,000 worldwide. For a faith that predates Islam, Christianity, and Judaism and once covered vast swaths of land, that's pretty depressing. What's particularly interesting is how some believes think the positive aspects of the faith are to blame:
The very tenets of Zoroastrianism could be feeding its demise, many adherents said in interviews. Zoroastrians believe in free will, so in matters of religion they do not believe in compulsion. They do not proselytize. They can pray at home instead of going to a temple. While there are priests, there is no hierarchy to set policy. And their basic doctrine is a universal ethical precept: “good thoughts, good words, good deeds.”
'That’s what I take away from Zoroastrianism,' said Tenaz Dubash, a filmmaker in New York City who is making a documentary about the future of her faith, 'that I’m a cerebral, thinking human being, and I need to think for myself.'
In a way, that's sort of sad, as the religion should be rewarded for being so open-minded and non-political. On the other, I'm not sure what it says about its basic tenets (of which I admittedly know little) that the same open-mindedness apparently leads believers elsewhere for their spiritual nourishment.