Christianity, as of today, is the worlds largest religion by far. It has over 2,300,000,000 adherents right now, and is the majority of almost all the continents and countries in the world, as well as representing over 30-33% of the world population. Christianity only had 600,000,000 adherents just over a century ago, and so we can see that it underwent an overwhelming rate of growth from 1900 to today, in 2016, in order to exceed 2 billion adherents, and be the first religion to do so as well. The question put forth by a lot of people right now however, is whether or not Christianity, after much increase, is actually declining as of now.
When we speak of the decline of a religion, we mean that it is undergoing a net loss of adherents. This means if we look at the future there will be less Christians overall than there are today. When we speak of a religion dying, we mean that it is undergoing such a fast decline that it is actually set to enter into non-existence or near non-existence in the future. Now, the idea that Christianity is dying is usually put forth by Atheists and Agnostics. Let us not generalize all Atheists and Agnostics, but it is quite definite to say that the ones who put forth this claim have conducted virtually zero research involving demographics.
Our study will look at things in the following order;
- Are the number of Christians increasing or decreasing in the world?
- Is everyone leaving Christianity?
- Christian conversion
Let us begin.
1. Are the number of Christians increasing or decreasing in the world?
The answer to this question is yes. And it is a big yes. Christianity is rapidly growing, and we will look at the statistics to establish this. The two biggest and most reliable recent reports to have come out on the future of religion is the report by Pew Research, and the Center for the Study of Global Christianity. First, we will examine what Pew Research report has to say about the future of Christianity, which was released in 2015 based on 2010 figures, and then we will look at what the Center for the Study of Global Christianity has to say, which is based off of 2012 figures.
a. Pew Research
According to Pew Research, this is the future of Christianity by the number of people who are Christians, by decade, from 2010 to 2050.
2010: In 2010, Christianity had 2,168,330,000 people following the religion.
2020: In 2020, Christianity will have 2,382,750,000 people following the religion.
2030: In 2030, Christianity will have 2,578,790,000 people following the religion.
2040: In 2040, Christianity will have 2,756,390,000 people following the religion.
2050: In 2050, Christianity will have 2,918,070,000 people following the religion.
According to the massive and in-depth Pew Research report, Christianity, from 2010-2050 will grow from having approximately 2.17 billion followers to 2.92 billion followers, which means that this report predicts that the number of Christians will increase by more than 700,000,000 in 40 years.
b. Center for the Study of Global Christianity
The CSGC also has predictions on the number of Christians in the future, but it is not organized in a decade-by-decade manner like it is in the Pew Research report. Rather, across two separate reports, it gives us figures on the number of Christians in 2010, 2020, and 2050. Or maybe I just don’t know how to find 2030 and 2040 figures, who knows. The first report tells us about 2010 and 2020, whilst the second report, being much more recent, tells us about 2015, 2025, and 2050.
2010: In 2010, Christianity had 2,262,586,000 people following the religion.
2015: In 2015, Christianity had 2,419,221,000 people following the religion.
2020: In 2020, Christianity will have 2,550,714,000 people following the religion.
2025: In 2025, Christianity will have 2,727,172,000 people following the religion.
2050: In 2050, Christianity will have approximately 3,310,498,000 followers.
The CSGC reports that in 2010, Christianity had about 2.26 billion followers, and this this will rise to 3.31 billion by 2050, representing an increase by over a billion members in 40 years, and thus the CSGC also predicts an incredibly fast and high rate of expansion of the Christian religion in the future, and that it is growing.
One might question why the Pew Research and CSGC reports differentiate by about 400,000,000 regarding the total number of Christians by the year 2050 — this is because in regions like India and China, where acquiring reliable reports on the number of people following each and individual religion is extraordinarily hard, the CSGC relies on on-the-ground data, and un-official statistics, whilst Pew simply resorts to the safe (but just as potentially inaccurate) official statistics in places where acquiring an accurate share of the population adhering to a single religion is very hard. Thus, when it comes to China, these reports differentiate on the number of Christians by 80,000,000, and that number is about 30,000,000 regarding India. Furthermore, the CSGC predicts that the world population will be considerably higher than Pew Research does by 2050, and with a higher world population, you naturally get more Christians.
c. Extra Considerations
So far, we’ve already seen enough information to completely dispel the myth that Christianity is a dying religion, on the other hand, it is rapidly growing, but there is an extra consideration to take into account for both of these reports.
The Pew Research report presumes that the world population will be about 9.37 billion people by 2050, whilst the CSGC predicts about 9.55 billion people by 2050. However, according to a major 2015 report by the United Nations Population Division from the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the most recent and updated revised statistics put the world population at 9,725,148,000 (or 9.73 billion) people by 2050, meaning that according to the most recent factually compiled data, Pew Research is missing almost 400 million people from its report to account for their religion, and the CSGC is missing about 200 million. If the world population is hundreds of millions higher than these reports presume, this means that there are hundreds of millions of people whom do not have their religion accounted for, and because Christianity is currently the worlds largest religion, it is very safe to assume that tens of millions of these unaccounted for people, if not over a hundred million, will be themselves Christian. This means that, at the very least, if the Pew Research data is correct, there will be considerably more than 2.92 billion Christians by 2050, and if the CSGC data is correct, there will be considerably more than 3.31 billion Christians by 2050. Christianity will thus grow much more than previously assumed.
2. Is everyone leaving Christianity?
We have all heard about the reports — everyone is leaving Christianity! The churches are empty! Christianity is a dying religion! The boogie man is real! So, is it true?
The people who claim this is true will cherry-pick their sources. They will only look at what is happening in Western countries, and declare that this is therefore happening globally. This could not be further from the truth. In reality, there is in fact a very, very large number of people leaving Christianity in first-world Western countries, but that’s really the only place it’s happening. Pew Research predicts Europe will decline from being about 74% Christian in 2010 to 65% Christian in 2050, but just because the French and Swedes are turning their backs on Christianity, does not mean the same is happening in Brazil, the Democratic Republic of Congo, or the Philippines. In fact, the West is the only place on the planet where Christianity is declining. Christianity declining in the West of course, does not mean it is declining in general — these Atheists who claim this seem to think that the country they live in is actually the whole world. And sadly for them, even if it was, Christianity still wouldn’t die. Why? Because, if you look at the facts, Christianity WILL RISE AGAIN in the West. This is not me flaunting out of desperation, and from what you are about to see, it is actually a statistical fact.
In reality, the divergence from Christianity is only a temporary ordeal that my end by 2050 all together. In fact, it has already ended in the United Kingdom. A major study released shows that Christianity has actually, according to the most recent statistics, even had a small increase in the share of the British population in recent years from 42% of the population to 43% of the population (and a 3% increase among younger people). The ones without religion declined from 49% of the population to 48% of the population. How long will it be until this atheist fad ends in other Western countries as well? It probably will not continue for too long. In fact, in 2014, more churches opened in America than were shut down for the first time in several decades. 4,000 opened, whilst 3,700 closed, meaning in 2014, the number of American churches increased by 300. Even though the decline of American Christianity is still continuing today, church membership decline seems to have also halted.
In fact, if you look at the statistics, in many Western countries, the number of Christians is actually increasing, even though the Christian share of the population is decreasing. These countries include, according to Pew Research, Canada, America, Norway, Iceland, and perhaps others. Some countries like Denmark have a very small overall decline in the number of Christians. Once the population stops leaving Christianity in Western countries, mass-Christian immigration will end up sinking the non-religious when it comes to the share of Western population countries. The only possible thing that could make Christianity die is if the end of the world literally comes in the next few decades (which I am not denying) and Christians get persecuted into near extinction by the antichrist, or if some kind of nuclear war happens killing off most Christians (although this would also annihilate the atheists and agnostics).
The final thing to mention is, in reality, Christians aren’t leaving Christianity, white people are leaving Christianity. Now, I’m a white guy myself (I’m also an Arab dude, and yes, Arabs are Caucasians too), so I don’t mean to insult my own race, but this is the statistical fact. For example, let us take a look at America. In America, amongst the older population, about 70% of all people are white Christians, although 25% of millennials are white Christians, even though 60-70% of millennials are Christian. So, what’s going on? This 40% or so disparity, which is virtually non-existent amongst the older population, is non-white Christians. That means, for the most part in respect to the American population, Latinos. Latinos aren’t really leaving Christianity. Nor are blacks or Asians. Some are? Sure, but not on any serious level. Once a certain number of white people have left Christianity, there will be no more white people to leave Christianity, either because they already have or the decline simply has had its history (like in Britain, white people aren’t leaving Christianity there anymore, because no one is leaving Christianity there anymore as we have seen). This means that any future growth of the non-religious population of the West is limited, and again, will be eventually overrun by immigration.
The next time you hear someone as uneducated in demographics as Richard Dawkins or Sam Harris tell you that God is dead, just remember that philosopher Fredrick Nietsczhe said the following statement;
God is dead.
The only problem is of course, he said that almost 200 years ago.
3. Christian Conversion
So, now that we’ve seen that people are only leaving Christianity in the West, let us ask about what is happening with Christianity in the rest of the world? This is, unfortunately, where the atheistic/agnostic thesis entirely breaks down. The fact is, since the year 1900, so many people have converted to Christianity that it is simply tremendous. First, let us look at Africa.
From the year 1900-2010, the Christian share in Africa rose from 9% of the population, to 57% of the population. This means that half of Africa converted to Christianity. One in two men, women, and children in an entire continent, in about two to three generations, converted to the Christianianity. What about South Korea?
b. South Korea
In about two to three generations, Christians increased from 1% of the South Korean population to 29% of the South Korean population — meaning that nearly a third of the entire country converted to Christianity in two or three generations. What about Nigeria?
I do not have any graphics for you guys on this one, but in Nigeria, Christianity increased from 21.4% of the population in 1953 to 48.2% of the population in 2003. A report by the United States Agency for International Development puts the share of Christians in Nigeria at 47% in 2015, re-affirming the overwhelming conversion into Christianity that occurred under a single generation, where about a third of the entire population converted to Christianity. What about Russia?
In the span of under 20 years after the collapse of the USSR, a staggering 41% of the entire Russian population converted to Christianity, representing an utter collapse of atheism and agnosticism in the country. Indeed, atheists and agnostics represented 61% of the population before the USSR, and once people stopped inhaling all the communistic propaganda they were gorging, Christianity immediately explodes. Not only are atheists and agnostics converting to Christianity, but something that confirms the massive Christian explosion is the fact that 2,000,000 Muslims also converted to Christianity during the last 20 years in Russia. This affirms that this was not simply people no longer having the USSR on their backs for being Christian that lead to the resurgence of Christianity, but it was a miraculous Christian revival in the Russian country. Nowadays, over 1,000 churches open in Russia per year. What about China?
China is the worlds most populous nation. In 1950, there were about one million Protestants in total, as many as 4,000,000 Christians overall. China has become the most hyped up region in the world when it comes to the exploding of Christianity today, and the hype is real. Christianity is growing so fast in China, that some estimate that China, even though it had almost no serious number of Christians in 1950, will become the worlds largest Christian nation by 2030, some estimates put conversion figures to Christianity in China at 10,000-25,000 per day. Exactly how many Christians are in China? Well, there is an international Christian ministry called Asia Harvest, and they took on a very large project. They conducted a massive study, and gathered over 2,000 sources from every city and province in the entire Chinese nation on religious population statistics, and found that 105,000,000 Chinese now adhere to the Christian faith. That’s more than a hundred million conversions to Christianity in China in one generation — a miracle, one could say. These figures are simply overwhelming, Christianity has blown up so fast in China that the government now no longer reports on the official church statistics regarding the number of people who are affiliated with the only legal church in China after the number started going quite insane, and in fact in the last few months, have even attempted to BAN CHILDREN from attending Church to counter-act this growth. The officially Atheist communist party of China doesn’t realize however, that Christian persecution is what lead to Christianity taking over the Roman Empire in the first place. What about Indonesia?
Indonesia represents perhaps the greatest number of Muslims converting to Christianity from any country in the world. It also just so happens to be the biggest Muslim country in the world as well. In 2015, a major study was released and published called Believers in Christ from a Muslim Background: A Global Census, and it estimates that 6,500,000 Muslims, in this country, have converted to Christianity. This is a shockingly high figure. It also found that numerous other countries had hundreds of thousands of Muslims converting to Christianity, such as Nigeria, Ethiopia, Iran, Bangladesh, America, Tanzania, Burkina Faso, and Iran. Speaking of Iran…
Iran is today’s biggest Christian conversion engine by far. Perhaps it isn’t in overall numbers, but by rate, there is no question Iran comes out on first. The CSGC released a report saying that Christianity is growing in Iran at the rate of 20% per year, and this is a country where being Christian is illegal. There are reports that now say that there are several thousand thousands to even over a million Iranian Christians. Why is this such a tremendous feat? Because, a few decades ago, there were less than 600 Christians in the country. I personally e-mailed the Asia Harvest international ministry about where Christianity is growing the fastest, and this was their response to me;
The answer (though not strictly Asia) would have to be…. Iran. There is an intense hunger there for the Bible and to learn about Jesus.
Next would be rural areas of India, especially central India, where Hindus and tribals are coming to the Lord in multitudes. However there is little progress in the cities where Muslims and high caste Hindus live.
Good things are happening in patches in China, Laos and, Cambodia and Indonesia. Other parts of Asia are stagnant like Vietnam and Nepal, while others still are going backwards, South Korea being the worst, where the revival of generations ago is in reverse and people are leaving the churches by the hundreds of thousands.
There you have it, folks. Christianity is not dying. On the other hand, it’s rising. Very quickly.