Islam will be the world’s fastest growing religion over the next four decades, meaning the number of Muslims will nearly equal the number of Christians around the world, according to a new study.
A recent report by the Pew Research Center predicted that Muslims will nearly double their numbers in Europe to make up 10 percent of the continent’s overall population by 2050. Muslims made up 6 percent of Europe’s population (43 million people) as of 2010.
Christianity is by far the world’s largest religion with an estimated 2.2 billion adherents, nearly 31 percent of earth’s 6.9 billion people, as of 2010. Islam was second, with 1.6 billion adherents, making up 23 percent of the global population.
But if the current demographic trends persist, noted the report, by 2050, the world will witness a near parity between Muslims, who are projected to increase by 73 percent to reach 2.8 billion adherents, or 30 percent; and Christians, whose numbers will also rise to make up 31 percent or 2.9 billion adherents.
This possible parity will be a first in history; until 2070 anyway, when the number of Muslims worldwide is predicted to eventually exceed the number of Christians.
Indonesia will no longer be the country with the biggest Muslim population; it is going to be India, said the report.
In North America, while representing only a tiny fraction of the American population, Islam will rapidly grow to become the second-largest religion in the Unites States, at 2.1 percent of the population by 2050, surpassing Judaism.
And while still the dominant religious group, the number of Christians in the United States will decline from more than three-quarters (77 percent) of the population in 2010, to two-thirds (66 percent) in 2050.
The decline in the number of Christians in North America will correlate with the increase in the number of atheists, agnostics and other religiously-unaffiliated people in the U.S. and France.
The world’s “religious profile” is rapidly changing primarily by “differences in fertility rates and the size of youth populations among the world’s major religions, as well as by people switching faiths,” according to the report.
Sub-Saharan Africa is projected to experience the fastest overall growth due to high fertility, rising from 12 percent of the global population in 2012 to about 20 percent in 2050.
Despite the multiples figures and analysis, the report warned that there are many variables, such as natural disasters, mass migrations, wars, revolutions etc, that could make dramatic differences between its projections and how the world could actually turn out.