The world’s major religions face an unprecedented series of challenges. According to Pew Research Center Religious Composition by Country, 2010-2050 Report, for example, 30% of the US population is not affiliated with any religion. The report also notes that “Christians are projected to grow from 78% of the US population in 2010 to 66% in 2050.” For now, however, Christianity is not only the most widespread religion in America, but also in the world. (Christianity is a major focus in many the 20 most conservative colleges in america.)
Threats against the religious population outside the United States can be staggering. Declining fertility rates and a growing population of young people who may be less religiously inclined are factors in the decline of organized faith around the world. Worse still, some 41% of nations ban certain religious groups. Among them are two of the largest countries in the world in terms of population: Russia and China.
An extreme example is the persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia: the group there is considered an “extremist organization” and has been banned since 2017. On January 18 this year, an adherent of the faith was sentenced to two years in prison . for participating in religious activities, and according to Radio Free Europe, “dozens of Jehovah’s Witnesses have either been convicted of extremism or remanded in custody”.
Despite these and other challenges, according to the Pew Report, some 6,463,580,000 global citizens identify with one religion or another, while 1,193,750,000 are “unaffiliated” – defined as “[a]theists, agnostics and others who are not affiliated with any religion.
This groundbreaking study examines the religious composition of 198 countries and how it is likely to change by 2050. For example, the Muslim population is growing rapidly, while the “unaffiliated” category is shrinking (although it is growing in the United States).
Pew has divided religions into seven categories: Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Folk Religion (e.g. traditional religions in Africa, China, and Australia), Other (including Baha’i, Taoism, Jainism , Zoroastrianism, etc.) and Jews, with an eighth category for the unaffiliated. (“Other” can also include some fortunately small and obscure groups – like the most terrifying cults in history.)
Click here to see the largest religion in the world
According to Pew’s 2020 forecast, Christianity ranks first in the world, claiming 2.383 billion people. The largest group of Christians is in sub-Saharan Africa with 650 million, followed by Latin America and the Caribbean (585 million), Europe (535 million), Asia-Pacific (320 million) and North America (277 million).
Among the nations most populated by Christians are the United States (253 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).