The world’s largest religion is Christianity. More than 2.2 billion people report following this religion, which means about one-third of the global population calls themselves a Christian on some level. Unlike other major world religions, Christianity is geographically widespread and encompasses virtually every socioeconomic demographic.
The largest group of Christians as a population group resides in the Americas, representing 36.8% of the total number of people identifying with this religion.
Where Christianity doesn’t dominate are in the Middle East and North Africa, which is where other major religions, just as Islam, are more prevalent. Just 0.6% of the global Christian population resides in this geographic area. 80% of the world’s Christian population lives in Europe, the Americas, or sub-Saharan Africa.
Stunning Facts About Modern Christianity
- The number of Christians around the world has grown by 4x over the past 100 years, from about 600 million in 1910 to more than 2 billion in 2010, but this means Christians as a group have actually declined from 35% to 32% of the global population.
- In 1910, Europe and the Americas were the home to 93% of the world’s Christians. Today that figure is 63%.
- 50% of all Christians identify as being Catholic. 1 in 3 Christians see themselves as being Protestant.
- Other Christians, such as Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses, make up the remaining 1% of the global Christian population.
- The US is home to 11.3% of the total world Christian population, making it the most prevalent nation on the planet for this religion.
- In Mexico, 95% of the population identifies with the Christian religion. Brazil and the Philippines are also above the 90% saturation mark, as is the Democratic Republic of Congo.
- Indonesia, a Muslim-majority country, is home to more Christians than all 20 countries in the Middle East-North Africa region combined.
Christianity has spread far and wide from its roots, yet ironically enough Christianity isn’t a major religion where it was initially founded. Yet the idea that Christianity is a globally persecuted religion is by far a misrepresentation of this demographic. 90% of Christians live in a country where they have a religious majority. 158 countries currently list Christianity as their majority religion. With such a majority, it would seem like it would be easy to dictate global policy, but the truth is that Christians are far more divided than united when it comes to what they believe.
The Divides Within the Christian Church
- There are 41,000 different Christian denominations that are practiced around the world today. If overlapping denominations are counted separately, this number exceeds 50,000.
- Methodists have the most religious denominations in their general faith. Catholics have the fewest denominations.
- In the US, more than 1,500 Christian faith groups operate on a weekly basis.
- 13.1% of the global population sees themselves as Evangelical, which is defined as being a “Bible believing” Christian. There are more Charismatics [14%] and only 7 million fewer Pentecostals in the world today.
- There is an estimated 6 million books in print today about Christianity.
- The English language features over 50 different versions of the Bible and over 80,000 different translations in all and growing.
Maybe the most interesting debate within Christianity is the use or the non-use of certain books that are considered canon. A series of 14 books, known as the apocrypha, can be found in certain Bibles that are used by some denominations. Some Catholic bibles also contain the apocrypha. How can one define what a “Bible believing” Christian happens to be when there are so many different Bibles being used by Christians today? This is just one reason why there is a divide within this religion. Instead of being one body with many parts, many of the parts attempt to become the entire body instead.
Christianity in the United States
- 63% of the US population states that they believe in God with certainty.
- Another 26% of the population states that they believe in God with some level of certainty.
- Just 9% of the US population states that they do not believe in God.
- Jehovah’s Witnesses have the most certainty in their belief in God [90%]. Catholics have the least amount in certainty [64%].
- Christians in the 30-49 age demographic are the most likely to believe with certainty in God [34%] People in the 18-29 age demographic are the least likely [18%].
- More people in the 30-49 age demographic [34%] also don’t know if they believe in God compared to any other age demographic.
- Women [56%] are more likely than men to believe with absolute certainty that God exists.
- People with higher levels of income are less likely to believe with certainty that God exists.
58% of people who make more than $50k per year say that they do not believe in God at all. There is a clear correlation between one’s socioeconomic status and one’s religious preferences, especially when it comes to Christian beliefs. To pull a story from the Bible, when the rich man came to Jesus and stated he had followed all of God’s commandments, he had one question: what must I do to be saved? Jesus told him that the cross from him to bear was to give his wealth away to the poor to follow him. The rich man couldn’t do it. With the wealth in the Christian faith in the US, there’s a legitimate question to be asked of this religion as well: is the advice of their Messiah being followed?
The Future of Christianity
- The average church in the US has 75 regular participants in worship on a Sundan morning.
- Half of all Christians attend the largest 10% of congregations in the United States.
- About 40% of Christians say that they attend church regularly. By attendance figures, however, about 1 in 5 Christians actually attends church about every other week.
- Church membership levels total more than 145 million people in the US, which is down 1.15% since 2011.
- The only Christian denomination with a Top 5 level of participation to see an increase in membership is the Mormon church, up 1.62% in 2011.
- Just 11% of US Christian churches have a congregation with a 20% or more minority attendance.
The Americas might be the home to a majority of the world’s Christians, churches, and seminaries, but it is also home to a lot of old doctrinal prejudices which still exist. The future of Christianity as the world’s largest religion depends on how well its followers can get past their natural biases. Jesus said to love your neighbor as yourself. It’s a powerful statement. Not following it may contribute to the declining numbers of people who are following this faith.