The 21st century is unlikely to see a fundamental conflict of political ideology in the way the 20th century was dominated by it. But it might well see a clash of religious or cultural ideology.
The reason the study and understanding of religion matters today more than ever before is this: The world is undergoing rapid and tumultuous change. Globalization, accelerated by the communications revolution, is driving much of it, breaking down boundaries, altering the composition of whole communities, even countries. The changing circumstances create new overlapping challenges that can only be met effectively together: terrorism, financial crises, climate change, even how we respond to the Arab Spring.