Is­lam to be fastest-grow­ing faith: re­port

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY RACHEL ZOLL

Over the next four decades, Is­lam is ex­pected to grow faster than any other ma­jor reli­gion world­wide, with the Mus­lim pop­u­la­tion nearly match­ing Chris­tians in both num­ber and share of the global pop­u­la­tion, ac­cord­ing to pro­jec­tions re­leased Thurs­day.

Chris­tians will re­main the largest re­li­gious group, in­creas­ing to 2.92 bil­lion ad­her­ents by 2050 if cur­rent de­mo­graphic trends con­tinue. But Mus­lims will reach 2.76 bil­lion, mak­ing each faith group about 30 per­cent of the world pop­u­la­tion, an­a­lysts from the Pew Re­search Cen­ter said.

The pro­jec­tions in the re­port, “The Fu­ture of World Re­li­gions,” are based on birth and death rates, im­mi­gra­tion pat­terns and rates of re­li­gious con­ver­sions, among other in­for­ma­tion found in cen­suses, de­mo­graphic sur­veys and ad­di­tional re­ports that asked peo­ple to iden­tify what faith they fol­low.

Much of the growth of both Chris­tian­ity and Is­lam will oc­cur in Africa. But Mus­lims will also grow to com­prise 10 per­cent of Europe’s pop­u­la­tion and will out­num­ber Jews in the U.S. by mid-cen­tury.

In­dia is ex­pected to re­tain a Hindu ma­jor­ity, but the coun­try will sur­pass In­done­sia as the na­tion with the world’s largest Mus­lim pop­u­la­tion. As a group, Mus­lims are younger and have more chil­dren than mem­bers of other faiths, driv­ing their global growth, re­searchers said.

The re­port is the lat­est to mea­sure how Chris­tian­ity in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries is far out­pac­ing the growth of the faith in the West. By 2050, 4 in 10 Chris­tians are ex­pected to be lo­cated in Africa. And Chris­tians will no longer be a ma­jor­ity in the United King­dom, France and Australia.

Athe­ists, ag­nos­tics and peo­ple who don’t iden­tify with a reli­gion will in­crease in much of Europe and North Amer­ica, but glob­ally will drop from about 16 per­cent to 13 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion. Within the U.S., peo­ple with no re­li­gious af­fil­i­a­tion are pro­jected to be­come more than a quar­ter of the pop­u­la­tion, while the share of Chris­tians is ex­pected to de­crease from more than three-quar­ters to two-thirds.

The num­ber of Bud­dhists will re­main about the same, but be­cause of over­all global pop­u­la­tion growth, will com­prise a smaller share of the world’s pop­u­la­tion. Hin­dus will grow to reach 1.4 bil­lion peo­ple. World­wide, the num­ber of Jews is ex­pected to grow by about 16 per­cent to 16.1 mil­lion.

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