I have just watched an item on this morning's news about research into the growth of religions. (It's morning where I live.) I didn't catch who had done the research. A professor from Massey University in New Zealand was discussing the research but, as in all news programmes, he was allocated a fairly short slot.
What he did say was that it seems that Islam will become the biggest religion in the world by the end of this century, that Christianity is increasing but at a much slower rate than Islam and, perhaps most surprisingly, the number of those with no affiliation to any religion is decreasing world wide except in three countries. New Zealand is one of the three.
Africa seems to be central in the growth of Islam as tribal beliefs break down. He also said that the fact that Moslem families tend to be bigger than Christian ones these days needs to be taken into account when looking at reasons for the growth of this religion.
While the Catholic church has a global agenda focused on both Africa and Asia, he thinks that other Christian churches tend to concentrate more on what he called their own patches. The research suggests that Africa will have the largest Christian population in the world by 2050.
As an atheist I found the no affiliation decrease particularly interesting but there wasn't time to discuss that. I would suspect that there are lots of people who claim a loose affiliation with a religion – like always ticking C of E in the religion box on old-fashioned forms – rather than being actively involved. Perhaps the uncertainty of global politics, especially the extent of recent terrorist activity, has also made people "storm converts".
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