Christianity has been the world’s largest religion since 2010, with Islam coming in second. But if current demographic trends continue, researchers at PEW say Muslims will catch up by 2050, and could surpass Christianity by 2070.
The future growth is determined mostly by where each religious group is geographically located, and Muslims are a youthful population with high fertility rates, living in the fastest growing parts of the world. The study released last week, is the first formal demographic projections using data beyond just age, fertility or mortality that extends to migration and religious switching for multiple religious groups around the world.
By 2050, people unaffiliated with a religion including Atheists and agnostics, despite increasing in the U.S. and France, will be declining. The global Buddhist population will be the same as it was in 2010, but Hindu and Jewish populations will be larger. In the U.S., Judaism will no longer be the largest non-Christian religion and Christians will make up two-thirds of the population.
The projections are limited to a 40-year time frame because many unforeseen events such as social movements, political upheavals or natural disasters could shift demographic trends. Have you noticed a religious shift, or lack thereof, in your community?
Jenny Trinitapoli, Professor of Sociology, Demography and Religious studies at Penn State. She contributed to the Pew Report
Todd M. Johnson, Associate Professor of Global Christianity and Director of the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Johnson is visiting Research Fellow at Boston University’s Institute for Culture, Religion and World Affairs leading a research project on international religious demography; Johnson contributed to the Pew Report