home
RSS
December 19th, 2011
12:08 PM ET

Christianity goes global as world's largest religion

By Richard Allen Greene, CNN

(CNN) - Christians are by far the largest religious group on the planet, and the religion has gone truly global over the past century, according to a new report out Monday, which finds some of the world's biggest Christian communities in surprising places.

Europe was the clear center of world Christianity one hundred years ago, but today the Americas are home to more than a third of all Christians. In fact, the United States has the world's largest Christian population, of more than 247 million, followed by Brazil and Mexico.

China also appears on the list of top 10 largest Christian populations - with an estimated 67 million Christians, it has more followers of the faith than any western European country.

There are nearly 2.2 billion Christians around the world, making up about one-third of the world's population - the same percentage as a century ago, according to the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

Islam is the world's second largest religion, with about 1.6 billion followers worldwide, the Washington-based organization calculates. That's just under one-quarter of the estimated 2010 world population of 6.9 billion.

Sub-Saharan Africa has seen the biggest explosion in its Christian population in the past century, going from about 9 million Christians in 1910 to about 516 million today - nearly a quarter of all the world's Christians. Three of the world's ten largest Christian populations are in Africa: Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia.

The study, "Global Christianity," is based on demographic and opinion data from 232 countries and territories. It's 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.

It does not measure practice or belief, merely counting as Christian anyone who says they are.

The report calculates that half the world's Christians are Catholic, 37% are Protestants, and 12% are Orthodox. The remaining 1 percent belong to other traditions such as Mormonism.

- Newsdesk editor, The CNN Wire

Filed under: Belief • Christianity

soundoff (2,648 Responses)
  1. Muhammad

    Allah u Akbar

    We are coming soon to invade Roman Empire

    May 14, 2012 at 2:42 am |
  2. True cattholic

    Catholic Religion is the only true religion in the world. this is because Jesus Christ is still alive, not like the other founders of other religions

    April 5, 2012 at 9:53 am |
  3. Spaniard

    If majority of the population of the world is cristian is thanks by Spain. We spread better than any country the religion of cristianity. We did a good job in the past.

    February 8, 2012 at 7:29 am |
  4. Oliver

    Here's a thought on creation "The Big Bang" this would have to occur each time there was a creations.humm

    January 30, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
  5. solar systems gold coast

    Nice website but sometimes the header displays a 404 error, just thought you would like to know

    January 13, 2012 at 6:30 am |
  6. Jolen Tan of Toronto

    I guess peace loving people like myself are happy that Christianity is still the major religion – and we understand that to include various types; Catholics, Evangelicals, Gideons, Pentecostals and yes Mormons along with all the others. To know that China is among the top 10 is even comforting and we should all pray for the "Christianization" of China. Why? If there is a country that has the financial, military and political will be a true guardian against the Muslim extremists, it would be China. China does not bend to international pressure, it is the only country that has the ability to "buy" these people out of their fanatical ambitions and get them "re-indoctrinated" back into the path of peace – never mind if it has to be submission but at least they will embrace peace and everybody can walk all the streets of the world in peace.

    January 5, 2012 at 11:19 am |
    • Bob

      Bad news for you then. Christianity isn't the path to peace and never was. Google "Inquisitions". It's a slightly less violent supersti-tion than Islam, but that is about all you can say for it.

      January 5, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • noigiler

      Jolen, your ignorance of Christianity's violent past and irresponsible present must be blissful.

      January 7, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
    • Joshua

      Yes Bob... Cause all Christians can be marked by what some did in the past, kinda like how Whites are still to blame for slavery, gimme mah reparations!

      January 7, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
  7. AtheistVince

    All religions are cults and all gods (Be it capital G or small doesn't matter) are myth. Sorry religious people, but that's the truth.
    Some people says that the proof of the existence of God is everywhere, well it proves nothing. It just proves that the human race do not know everything and has a lot more to learn. This is where science comes in. Science is trying to explain things by experiment. Some theories are proven and disproven. Of course, we haven't proven everything and will probably never completely explain all things. But it's better than saying "if we don't know it, it must be God's will" BS.

    January 4, 2012 at 8:15 pm |
    • AtheistVince

      By the way, someone said the bible is all truth. Here are some oy your so called truth:

      Man inside a fish for days – Jonah (Can anyone survive dipped in digestive fluid?)
      Talking burning bush – Abraham? (What's this Cartoon network?)
      A pair of every wildlife on a giant boat – Noah? (With only a pair, these species will never survive)
      etc.

      It sounds more like fairy tales than truth.

      January 4, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
    • stephen v

      you are making an invalid comparison. science doesnt try to explain anything. science is a method by which people manipulate the natural universe. religion is a method by which we manipulate people. it wasnt science that built stonehenge, for instance. and like science, religion has no inherent morality.

      January 5, 2012 at 8:28 am |
    • DONALD

      POOR CONFUSED VINCE. HOW DO YOU KNOW.... KNOW WHO TAUGHT YOU HOW THE WORLD WORKS. HMMMM DARWIN HIMSELF WITH THE BANG THEORY AT THE END OF HIS JOURNAL DID NOT EVEN BELIVE WHAT HE SAID. AND HE SAYS THAT. THATS THE PART PEOPLE LEFT OUT. EVERY MAN IN THIS WORLD IN HIS MIND IS NOTHING BUT A THAUGHT, A THEORY IDEA, ECT. TRUTH, WISDOME ONLY CAME FROM "GOD" WONDERFUL POWERFUL LORD ALMIGHTY, THE BIBLE WAS WRITTEN OVER 2,000 YRS AGO. THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS WERE FOUND 2,000 YRS LATER 5,000 PEICES TO BE CLOSE. AND WORD FOR WORD IT WAS THE SAME MATCH, WOW!!! THATS A 1 AND A TRILLION TO THE 10TH POWER FOR THAT TO HAPPEN. ANWAYS GOD CAME TO EARTH AS A MAN BECAUSE HE LOVED US SO MUCH. AND HIS NAME WAS JESUS CHRIST. (HIS SON) AND TIME STARTED AT 0, NO BC OR AD. HE DIED BETWEEN 32&34 AD HE WAS 33YRS OLD WHEN HE DIED ON THE CROSS FOR ALL SINNERS. YOU TOO. UNLESS YOU CALL OUT TO JESUS TO SHOW YOU HE IS REAL. WITH A MEANINGFUL HEART. HE WILL ANSWER YOU. AND YOU WILL JUST KNOW THAT YOU KNOW HE IS ALIVE TODAY AND LOVES YOU! DONT CHANCE LIFE AND END UP IN HELL. ATHEIST; CALL ON THE DEVIL CONCENTRATE, MEDITATE AND HE WILL APEAR TO YOU. IF THATS WHAT IT TAKES FOR YOU TO BELIEVE, THEN YOU WILL CALL UPON THE LORD. BUT YOU WILL JUST BLOW THIS OFF AND NEVER TRY. WHY? ALL YOU HAVE TO LOSE IS YOUR SOUL???

      March 14, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
  8. john

    "There are nearly 2.2 billion Christians around the world, making up about one-third of the world's population". Isn't the first plague in the Bible the one that takes out 1/3 of the world's population? Hmmmmmm........

    December 28, 2011 at 1:19 am |
  9. SEQLAR

    what a shame , delusion conquers more minds...

    December 27, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
    • Valci

      Including those that re-shaped the way we function today such as Albert Einstein and Alexander Fleming!
      If I had to choose between their words against yours, hmmmmm.. you know where this is going.

      December 28, 2011 at 12:31 am |
    • gerald

      Actually I'd say it conqurs athiests.....since delusions are not the truth...

      January 1, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
  10. Jones

    BoldGeorge, that was by far the stupidest argument against evolution I have ever heard, and for that matter, one of the dumbest thoughts I've heard another person share on any topic in my life. Bravo BoldGeorge, bravo.

    December 27, 2011 at 10:18 am |
    • Valci

      Personal attacks, the classic response of the ignorant!
      Discuss ideas, not people. From the looks of it, you are the moron!

      December 28, 2011 at 12:29 am |
    • Ben

      Jones, that was by far the stupidest argument for evolution I have ever heard, and for that matter, one of the dumbest thoughts I've heard another person share on any topic in my life. Bravo Jones, bravo.

      cwhatididthere its so easy... anyone can do it.

      December 28, 2011 at 11:43 am |
  11. BoldGeorge

    I thought it was just for the belief in God and the bible concerning our origins and genesis, but it is a real leap of faith for most intellectuals to accept that purely blind, random, unreasoning, non-material beginnings and purposeless processes (whose workings scientists cannot fully explain, or even illustrate with their own fossil evidence) could have brought about the grandeur and complexity we witness in nature...even in the tiniest of creatures. And worse yet, how inorganic compounds somehow gave rise to organic/living things who have transcended mere matter to the pinnacle of thinking about the world around us, and our own origins (matter contemplating itself–there's a mind-blower).

    Having written this, you would wonder why people (even people who might not want to be called religious) are revisiting the notion of origins.

    December 26, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
    • AtheistInArkansas

      Actually, science is moving pretty rapidly toward understanding how the universe, life, and the human race came about WITHOUT any Creator intervening. These are not easy questions that you can toss off over a beer with some pals or spout off from a pulpit. It takes decades of intense research by thousands of intelligent educated professionals. Religion, on the other hand, comes up with quick and easy answers which are unfortunately WRONG. The Judeo-Christian Bible is a hodge-podge of mythology, bloodthirsty pseudo-hisory, irrational rules and laws, psychotic ravings, and venomous xenophobic hatred (with a dollop of sweetness and light on top.) It's easy to say "God said it, I believe it, and that settles it", but only if you close your eyes to everything in the world around you that clearly shows that there is Nobody in charge.

      December 26, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
    • BoldGeorge

      Here's something to consider bout the flawed theory of evolution:

      Civilization has advanced from utter primitiveness to incredible mind-boggling achievements in just a little over 100 years. So why didn't mankind discover any of this stuff 100,000,000 years ago, or 10,000 years ago for that matter? This is very thought-provoking even if you don't want to have faith–There were NO planes, cars, computers, refrigerators, electricity, lights, gas, powered-equipment, telephones, recording devices, CD players, MP3 players, electric razors, televisions, record players, movie cameras, or a million other modern technological inventions–just a mere 170 years ago, has mankind seen or even invented anything other than the wheel.

      December 26, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
    • kateslate

      Mr. BoldGeorge, While your thoughts are provoking, your post pointing out how "flawed" the theory of evolution is, (and we presume you would replace it in school with more divine explanations) makes no sense. We contemplate the things you listed, but fail to see how this proves anything at all. Merely listing them does not mean much other than the fact that these things do, in fact, exist. Science, on the other hand, can be physically tested, seen, touched, tasted, smelled, prodded and poked, proven and, sometimes theories are disproved, prompting scientists to go in another direction. I don't go to church to get well when I get sick. I look to science. While I admire your fervor, for someone seemingly so intelligent and realizing that matter contemplating itself is indeed mind-blowing, you still don't know how to provide proof to your argument.

      December 27, 2011 at 12:20 am |
    • BoldGeorge

      KATE (nice name by the way)
      What 'proof' are you looking for? What proof are you asking me to show you? I can tell you how flawed scientists and there theories are, and that time and again they've only proven to be flawed/wrong/mistaken/inaccurate. If you are honest with yourself, you know this is true. And hey, I believed in evolution once.

      Now, I can tell you how the Bible has never been flawed or has ever made a mistake. Yes, man has physically written the Bible but these men were divinely inspired unlike any other earthly writings. Something might not make sense to you from the Bible, this I can understand, but you can never disprove any claim the Bible makes. If anything, you will always find that the Bible is proven to be true and from God age after age. It never falters nor does it change like scientific theories do. Besides, the word of God changes and transforms the soul, something that the evolutionary theory would be pretty hard to do, as it offers no hope for anything.

      December 27, 2011 at 11:20 am |
    • John John

      George... the bible has been proven to be about 90-95% historically inaccurate. That is fact. It is BS. Everything in there was written by MEN to explain something that primitive people just couldn't answer without science. Now that we have science, we know that the sun does not shine simply because of a magical being in the sky wills it to.

      December 30, 2011 at 10:46 pm |
  12. jameser35

    Evangelicals! Don't get too excited just yet. Those numbers do include mormons, jehovas witnesses, seventh, day, Catholics and a whole slew of organizations here to do the work of lucifer. Just so you know.

    December 26, 2011 at 11:03 am |
    • jameser35

      Many of you wouldn't be Christians if you even spoke to these "cultmembers" let alone allow them to be numbered among you.

      December 26, 2011 at 11:27 am |
  13. Moe

    You know what is wrong w/everyone on this board? You need Jesus!

    December 25, 2011 at 9:00 am |
    • mickey1313

      all thiests are f-ing stupid

      December 25, 2011 at 8:50 pm |
    • rick

      Wow, Mickey, you make an insightful point. I am impressed that you could come up with such a reasoned argument. Now, go sod-o-mize yourself

      December 27, 2011 at 9:55 am |
  14. momoya

    "Many are called but few are chosen" Matthew 22:14 needs to be changed?

    December 24, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
    • jameser35

      Many are thawed but few are frozen

      December 26, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
  15. T.C.

    I'm so glad to be Buddhist.

    December 24, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
    • Charles

      Of course, Buddhism is for retards.

      December 27, 2011 at 2:04 am |
  16. Muneef

    Hmmm.
    Each family out of the 2.2 billion global christians require a whole or a part of a pine tree to celebrate Christmas every year... Wouldn't that be driving earth to deforestation..? Isn't that one part of the global climate change? Shouldn't that be taken into consideration and find alternatives with out disturbing celebrations...
    Merry Christmas to all Christian Brothers and Sisters...many happy returns..

    December 24, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
    • Timber

      The odd thing is...trees are plants, and they reproduce.

      December 25, 2011 at 12:57 am |
    • ivonneak

      Many people that I know don't buy real pine trees. A lot of us get a fake tree and use it for many years.

      December 25, 2011 at 8:57 am |
    • jameser35

      It's called a tree farm. No forests needed. Grow on private property next to onions, alfalfa, and beets. Like most commodities, never in short supply, will never become extinct. I.e. the cow.

      December 26, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
    • Muneef

      Not all as organized, some already started to complain deforestation such as east Europe

      December 29, 2011 at 9:06 pm |
  17. FLADABOSCO

    Christianity is the only one of the big 3 religions that tries to convert non-believers. It's actually tough to become Jewish and takes years of study. Study – how uncool! No wonder the Jewish population is declining in the US.

    December 24, 2011 at 11:39 am |
    • Flashofdawn

      Huh.........................Christianity is the only one.!!!!!! I guess then that you have never heard about the other Abrahamic infestation called Islam.

      December 27, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
  18. Caveman73

    "There are nearly 2.2 billion Christians around the world, making up about one-third of the world's population – the same percentage as a century ago, according to the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life."

    Who knew there were that many morons out there.

    December 24, 2011 at 11:12 am |
    • Manto

      Fool

      December 25, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
    • mickey1313

      Oh I did. I have only in 30 years met about 10 not morrons. Christianity ismal and jewism are 3 strains of the same infectous desease that is killing the human race.

      December 25, 2011 at 8:52 pm |
    • AtheistInArkansas

      Actually, what is happening is that Christianity is growing among the poor and ignorant people in the world who are looking for a new fantasy to take them out of their miserable lives. In the educated prosperous countries of Western Europe (AND the United States) there are an increasing number of people who are recognising religion for the bloodthirsty delusion that it is. The net result is that there has been very little change in the total fraction of the world that is Christian.

      December 26, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
    • gerald

      caveman...good name , perfect, an underdevoloped brain in a huge size cranium, ever notice any articles with christianity or religion in them draws the athiest scoffers like a moths to a flame,speaking of flames.....

      January 1, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
  19. Nick

    "...for the time being, Christians and not international atheists are now standing at Germany’s fore." -Hitler

    December 24, 2011 at 8:32 am |
    • Russ

      "[Hitler was] deeply religious but entirely anti-Christian." -Joseph Goebbels

      December 28, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
  20. Gumby

    Religion is a disease. Christianity is the most odious of all the religious diseases.

    December 24, 2011 at 7:59 am |
    • durrrrrrrrrrrrr

      Yeah....but...I don't know...Have you checked out Theistic Satanism? It's fairly odious. How about the Order of Phosphorous? No? Hmmm...well, let's say they don't really go by a "golden rule"...

      I think we can agree that religion of all stripes is jaked. But Christianity the worst? Eh...I don't know about that...

      December 25, 2011 at 10:39 pm |
    • Aber

      Your stupidity is a disease. Stop perpetuating it and please castrate yourself.

      "Atheism is most odious to mankind." - Isaac Newton, father of modern science

      December 27, 2011 at 2:05 am |
    • Flashofdawn

      Aber,
      What Newton actually said was "Opposition to godliness is atheism in profession and idolatry in practice. Atheism is so senseless and odious to mankind that it never had many professors."

      This same Newton was also a religious nut with so many fantastical ideas about Christianity that if he had said it ...would have been slaughtered by the Christian leaders. He dipped and dabbled in the occult and yes did conclude that the world would end in ....2060 AD.

      And his statement is incorrect today anyway because only 7 percent of members of the American National Academy of Sciences believed in God. Whilst only 3.3 percent believed in God in the UK’s Royal Society
      Source(s):
      Aarhus University
      Ulster University
      Gallup(.

      December 27, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31
Advertisement
About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.