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The future map of religion around the world

The future map of religion around the world

The  Pew Research Center, released a report that maps global faith traditions and how they’re likely to shift by 2050.


Among the major findings:

  • “As of 2010, Christianity was by far the world’s largest religion, with an estimated 2.2 billion adherents, nearly a third of the Earth’s 6.9 billion people. Islam came in second, with 1.6 billion adherents, or 23 percent of the global population.” Four in 10 of all the world’s Christians will live in sub-Saharan Africa by 2050.

  • While Christian numbers will continue to grow, Muslims, who are younger and have  a higher birth rate, will outpace them. By 2050, “there will be near parity between Muslims (2.8 billion, or 30 percent of the population) and Christians (2.9 billion, or 31 percent), possibly for the first time in history.” Barring unforeseen events — war, famine, disease, political upheaval and more — Muslim numbers will surpass Christians after 2070.

  • Worldwide, the unaffiliated will fall from 16 percent to 13 percent. Christians, Muslims and Hindus live in areas with “bulging youth populations,” high birthrates and falling levels of infant mortality, the report said. Even the global tally for Jews is expected to rise, based on the high birthrate of Orthodox Jews in Israel. Meanwhile, the unaffiliated are “heavily concentrated in places with low fertility and aging populations, such as Europe, North America, China and Japan,” the report said.

  • Nearly two-thirds of all the unaffiliated worldwide live in China, the research found. “If Chinese authorities allow greater freedom of religion, the share of unaffiliated in the world population could shrink even more dramatically than the report predicts,” said Ariela Keysar, associate director of the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture, who consulted on the project.

  • In 2010, there were 159 countries with a Christian majority, but that will fall by eight countries, including France, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.  By 2050, Muslims will hold the majority in 51 countries, up by two from 2010, including Nigeria, which just elected a Muslim president, and the Republic of Macedonia.

For the USA:

  • In the U.S., Christians will decline, from more than three-quarters of the population (78.3 percent) in 2010 to two-thirds (66.4 percent) in 2050. Religious “churn” — people leaving their childhood faith for a different faith or none at all — is the primary driver of change.

  • The Muslim share of the U.S. population is projected to climb to 2.1 percent, up from less than 1 percent today. Jews will fall from 1.8 percent to 1.4 percent.


Posted by Andrew Gerns


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Chris Harwood

From my experiences abroad I’d say people in other countries still rely much more on family and community than Western culture does. The western church doesn’t provide the support it does in other places. I know converts to Christianity in America who’ve gone back to Islam tired of the shunning or pressure. It’s also illegal to change religion or join a different religion in much of the world. Eventually there probably won’t be Christians in much of the Middle East, except Israel. China may or may not succeed in controlling and secularizing it’s Muslim areas and arrests “zealous” Christians(those who don’t join the “official” Chinese church–whose new testament has all the miracles and any stuff they don’t like taken out).

The article also mentions the importance of having children and larger families, which much of Western Christianity now looks down on.

JC Fisher

“Religious “churn” — people leaving their childhood faith for a different faith or none at all — is the primary driver of change.”

As the world becomes ever more connected, why won’t “churn” happen worldwide, too?

Anand Gnanadesikan

This is a factor in the West… but in most denominations the majority of folks stay within the denomination. So demographics plays a huge role.

In terms of the connected world. well there is some of that as it relates to intermarriage- but in general this tends to homogenize religions towards the societal norm.

But it is worth remembering that a lot of the world still has arranged marriage. And in these cultures religion (though not necessarily *faith*) is bascially passed down genetically.

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