Economy

This Is the World's Largest Religion

The world’s great religions face a series of challenges unlike they have seen in the past. The challenges in America are not unique. A new Pew Research Center study shows that 30% of the U.S. population is religiously unaffiliated. People who identify themselves as Christians make up 63% of the country, which is down from 75% just 10 years ago.

Challenges to the religious population outside the United States can be staggering. Some 41% of nations ban some religious groups. Among them are two of the world’s largest countries by population: Russia and China. One extreme example is that Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia have been detained and their travel curtailed.

Despite these challenges and others, there are 7.7 billion religious people in the world, based on Pew Research Center’s Religious Composition by Country, 2010-2050 report.

This groundbreaking study considers the religious composition of 198 countries and how it is likely to change over almost four decades based on “differences in fertility rates and the size of youth populations among the world’s major religions, as well as by people switching faith.”

Pew divided religions break into eight categories: Christians, Muslims, Unaffiliated, Hindus, Buddhists, Folk Religion, Other and Jews. Based on Pew’s forecast for 2020 for the number of members of each group, Christianity ranks first with 2.383 billion people, out of a global total of 7.657 billion religious people.

The largest group of Christians is in sub-Sahana Africa at 650 million, followed by Latin America (585 million), Europe (535 million), Asia-Pacific (320 million) and North America (277 million).

Among the nations with the largest Christian populations are the United States (259 million), Brazil (185 million), Mexico (118 million), the Philippines (102 million), Nigeria (96 million), China (72 million), Ethiopia (62 million), Italy (48 million), South Africa (43 million), Uganda (40 million), Tanzania (39 million), France (37 million), Spain (36 million) and India (34 million).

Click here to read about the most religious county in each state.