Christians ‘most populous’ of world’s religions: Study

Christians ‘most populous’ of world’s religions: Study

Christians ‘most populous’ of world’s religions: Study

An Orthodox Christian priest walks inside a church in West Bank. A study shows that Christians make up about 32 percent of the world’s population. REUTERS photo

Christians are the world’s biggest religious group, numbering some 2.2 billion people, according to a study released yesterday by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

Pew assembled data on the size and geographic distribution of eight major religious groups, including non-believers, according to Agence France-Presse.

It found that Christians make up about 32 percent of the world’s population, followed by Muslims, the second largest group, with 1.6 billion adherents (23 percent). Hindus were the third largest group, numbering about one billion (15 percent), followed by Buddhists, at 500 million (7 percent) and Jews, who number 14 million (0.2 percent.) The Pew Forum also found that roughly one-in-six people around the globe (16 percent) have “no religious affiliation.”

Christians ‘dispersed’

The geographic distribution of religious groups varies considerably. Several religious groups are heavily concentrated in the Asia-Pacific region, including the vast majority of Hindus, Buddhists and adherents of folk or traditional religions. Of the major religious groups covered in this study, Christians are the most evenly dispersed. Roughly equal numbers of Christians live in Europe, Latin America, the Caribbean and sub-Saharan Africa. The Asia-Pacific region also is home to most of the world’s Muslims, at 62 percent of the region’s population. The worldwide demographic study of more than 230 countries and territories found that more than eight in 10 people identify with a religious group. The Pew Forum said that the study, in which religious affiliation was based on self-identification, did not attempt to measure the degree to which practitioners observe their faiths.

Pew’s data also show that nearly 73 percent of the world’s people live in countries in which their religious group makes up a majority of the population. Only about 27 percent of all people live as religious minorities. Overwhelmingly, Hindus and Christians tend to live in countries where they are in the majority.