Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Where in the World Are the Christians?

Major Christian TraditionsA Pew report on the size and distribution of the world's Christian population:
The number of Christians around the world has nearly quadrupled in the last 100 years, from about 600 million in 1910 to more than 2 billion in 2010. But the world’s overall population also has risen rapidly, from an estimated 1.8 billion in 1910 to 6.9 billion in 2010. As a result, Christians make up about the same portion of the world’s population today (32%) as they did a century ago (35%). 
This apparent stability, however, masks a momentous shift. Although Europe and the Americas still are home to a majority of the world’s Christians (63%), that share is much lower than it was in 1910 (93%). And the proportion of Europeans and Americans who are Christian has dropped from 95% in 1910 to 76% in 2010 in Europe as a whole, and from 96% to 86% in the Americas as a whole. 
At the same time, Christianity has grown enormously in sub-Saharan Africa and the Asia-Pacific region, where there were relatively few Christians at the beginning of the 20th century. The share of the population that is Christian in sub-Saharan Africa climbed from 9% in 1910 to 63% in 2010, while in the Asia-Pacific region it rose from 3% to 7%. Christianity today – unlike a century ago – is truly a global faith. 
One of the many interesting statistics in this report is that China is currently has the 7th largest Christian population in the world. With the current growth of Christianity in China, this is likely to increase further in the near future, with many commentators speculating China will have the world's largest Christian population in the near future.

Read the whole thing.

P.S. -- Here is John Micklewait, editor of the Economist, on Christianity in China:

More on the growth of Christianity in China from PBS and NPR.  And a deeper look into Christianity in China by the Pew Forum.

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