Christians now make up a third of the world’s population. Photo: Jacob Gregory
As of 2010, Christianity is far and away the world’s largest religion, claiming nearly 2.2 billion adherents, says Global Christianity, a new report from the Pew Center for Research’s Forum on Religion and Public Life. The Pew Center is a Washington-based societal think tank.
Its comprehensive demographic study of 232 countries finds that Christians represent nearly a third of the estimated 2010 global population of almost seven billion. Christians are also geographically very widespread and so no one region can claim to be the global centre of the faith.
A century ago, about two-thirds of the world’s Christians lived in Europe, where the majority of the faithful had been located for centuries, according to historical estimates by the Center for the Study of Global Christianity. Today, only about a quarter of all Christians live in Europe (26%). More than a third live in the Americas (37%), about one out of four lives in sub-Saharan Africa (24%) and about one in eight in Asia and the Pacific (13%).
Among individual countries, the U.S. has the world’s largest Christian population at more than 247 million, followed by Brazil, Mexico and Russia.
China makes the top 10 list for largest Christian populations; it has an estimated 67 million Christians, more than any western European country.
Worldwide, about half of Christians are Roman Catholic. Protestants make up 37% and Orthodox Christians 12%. Other denominations such as Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses account for the remaining 1% of the global Christian population.
The report is part of the Pew-Templeton Global Religious Futures Project, which has also included reports on the current and projected number of Muslims in the world. Islam is the second-largest world faith, with about 1.6 billion adherents.