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Religion

Summary

Of the global population:
  • 31.5 percent identify with Christianity
  • 23.2 percent identify with Islam
  • 15 percent identify with Hinduism
  • 7.1 percent identify with Buddhism
  • 5.9 percent identify with traditional, or folk, religions
  • Less than 1 percent identify with other religions such as Baha’i, Jainism, Sikhism, Shintoism, Taoism, Tenrikyo, Wicca and Zoroastrianism1
According to the Pew Research Center, of the world’s most populated nations, Russia, Egypt, India, Pakistan and Nigeria have the most stringent restrictions on religion, accounting for both governmental restrictions and societal religious hostility.2 The Open Doors World Watch list names 11 nations that are extremely dangerous for those of the Christian faith: North Korea, Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan, Pakistan, Eritrea, Libya, Iraq, Yemen, Iran and India.3 In 2014, Yazidis, Christians and Shiite Muslims became the victims of the Daesh genocide in Iraq, hundreds were killed, and thousands of Yazidi women were auctioned to members of ISIS, raped and abused.4 In India, radical Hindus are using violence against Muslim and Christian populations in a religious nationalist movement attempting to “cleanse” the minority faith groups from the nation.5 As Afghanistan is an Islamic state, Christians are renounced from their families and communities when expressing their conversion.6 The situation is similar in Somalia, Sudan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, Iran and Libya.7 Show References
1 http://www.pewforum.org/2012/12/18/global-religious-landscape-exec/ 2 http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/04/13/religious-restrictions-vary-significantly-in-the-worlds-most-populous-countries/ 3 https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2018/january/top-50-christian-persecution-open-doors-world-watch-list.html 4 https://www.forbes.com/sites/ewelinaochab/2018/01/26/religious-persecution-the-ever-growing-threat-to-us-all/#578ac988e30f 5 https://www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-persecution/world-watch-list/india/ 6 https://www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-persecution/world-watch-list/afghanistan/ 7 https://www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-persecution/world-watch-list/
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Religious Discrimination
Christianity
Islam
Hinduism
Buddhism
Judaism
Religion Other
Atheism
Evangelism
Other Religions
Spiritual Development
According to the Pew Research Center, of the world’s most populated nations, Russia, Egypt, India, Pakistan and Nigeria have the most stringent restrictions on religion, accounting for both governmental restrictions and societal religious hostility.1 Egypt and Russia each fell into both the top five nations for government hostility and societal hostility. However, governmental and social hostilities are not necessarily correlated.2 The Open Doors World Watch list names 11 nations that are extremely dangerous for those of the Christian faith: North Korea, Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan, Pakistan, Eritrea, Libya, Iraq, Yemen, Iran and India.3 In 2014, Yazidis, Christians and Shiite Muslims became the victims of the Daesh genocide in Iraq, hundreds were killed, and thousands of Yazidi women were auctioned to members of ISIS, raped and abused.4 In Read More India, radical Hindus are using violence against Muslim and Christian populations in a religious nationalist movement attempting to “cleanse” the minority faith groups from the nation.5 As Afghanistan is an Islamic state, Christians are renounced from their families and communities when expressing their conversion.6 The situation is similar in Somalia, Sudan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, Iran and Libya, the situation is similar.7 In Nigeria, Boko Haram killed thousands of both Muslims and Christians in 2015, and in many communities where Muslims or Christians were a minority, adherents faced social pressure, isolation and violence.8 The Russian government limits the activities of a number of religious minorities that it deems extreme, including Muslims, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Pentecostals, and Scientologists.9 The United States State Department cited Russian authorities blocked websites for centers of worship, charged fines and raided properties of members of minority religious groups in 2015.10 In Egypt, Muslim citizens are prohibited from converting to another religion.11 Jews face harassment in 6 out of 10 European nations. Both Christians and Muslims faced discrimination in 66 and 75 percent of Middle Eastern nations, respectively.12 On December 9 and 10, 2018, Chinese authorities emptied Early Rain Covenant Church, a Protestant church in China that also housed a kindergarten, seminary and Bible school. Members of the church were forced to sign papers stating they would not attend church again, and many congregants were detained, beaten and kept without food or water. Some relatives of those detained were not notified of their family members’ whereabouts, and the family of Wang Yi, the pastor of the church was told that the leader was arrested for “inciting subversion of state power.” Just prior to his arrest, Wang Yi published an essay condemning the Chinese government for its oppression of religious groups, and encouraged Christians to engage in acts of civil disobedience.13 Show Less
Nearly a third of the world identifies with Christianity — 31.5 percent or 2.2 billion people.1 Christianity, Islam and those who have no religious affiliation are the three largest religious populations worldwide.2 Nearly 36 percent of Christians live in North America, Europe has the next largest Christian population, accounting for just under 26 percent of the world’s Christian population.3 The United States, Brazil, Mexico, Russia, Germany, the Philippines, China, Ethiopia, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have the highest Christian populations in the world.4 In Sub-Saharan Africa, Christians accounted for just 9 percent of the population in 1910, yet in 2010, 63 percent of people in the region were adherents to Christianity. The Asia-Pacific region also saw an increase in Christianity over the Read More last century. Just 3 percent of the Asian-Pacific population adhered to Christianity in 1910, while 7 percent identified as Christian in 2010.5 Of the global Christian population, 50.1 percent is Catholic, 36.7 percent are Protestant, 11.9 percent are Orthodox and 1.3 percent are another Christian denomination.6 There are approximately 1.2 billion adherents of Catholicism around the world, 41 percent of which live in Latin America.7 Brazil has the highest Catholic population in the world with between 123 and 150 million Catholic citizens. Italy is home the highest number of Catholics in Europe, 57 million.8 Africa has seen the highest increase in Catholic adherents since 1970, Europe has seen the largest decrease in Catholic population. Just 7 percent of the world’s Catholics live in North America.9 The Pew Research Center’s studies show Catholicism tripling in the last century, rising from 291 million Catholics worldwide in 1910 to 1.1 billion in 2010.10 However, the prevalence of Catholicism has remained fairly stable, accounting for approximately half of all Christians and 16–17 percent of the global population between 1910 and 2010.11 The more significant shift in Catholicism is geographic, with 24 percent of Catholics residing in Europe in 2010 compared to 65 percent in 1910.12 Show Less
Muslims, both Shia and Sunni, account for 23.2 percent of the world’s population.1 In 2015, there were 1.8 billion Muslims around the world.2 Approximately 60 percent of the global Muslim population live in Asian nations — Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Iran and Turkey. Twenty percent are located in the Middle East and North Africa — Egypt, Algeria and Morocco.3 One fifth of Muslims in countries where they are a religious minority. Though India has the third largest population of Muslims worldwide, Islam is not the majority religion in India. Muslims are also a religious minority in China, though it has a larger Islamic population than Syria.4 Of the global Muslim population, 10–13 percent are Shia and 87–90 percent are Sunni.5 The majority of Shia affiliated Read More Muslims live in Iran, Pakistan, India and Iraq.6 Show Less
Recent studies show there are just over one billion adherents of Hinduism around the world,1 15 percent of the world.2 Ninety four percent of the world’s Hindu population lives in India,3 while Nepal, Bangladesh and Thailand have the next largest Hindu populations.4 Hinduism includes the Shaivism and Vaishnavism traditions, which worship Vishnu and Shiva, respectively.5 In the United States, just 0.7 percent of the population is Hindu.6
Buddhism began in Asia and has three branches today: Mahayana Buddhism, Theravada Buddhism and Vajrayana Buddhism. Currently, 7 percent of the world’s population are adherents of Buddhism, amounting to nearly 500 million people. The majority of practicing Buddhists live in Asian nations — 99 percent, or 480 million. Half of the world’s adherents to Buddhism reside in China alone. Approximately 4 million Buddhists live in North America, and just over one million Buddhists live in Europe.1
Just 0.2 percent of the world’s population identifies with Judaism — 14 million people. Ashkenazi Jews of German descent account for 75 percent of the world’s Jewish population, and Sephardic Jews from the Iberian peninsula account for approximately 20 percent.1 Israel is the only nation with a Jewish religious majority, but the United States and Israel have a near equal number of Jewish citizens;2 four out of every five Jews worldwide live in either the United States or Israel.3 Jews account for approximately 80 percent of the Israeli adult population.4 In a study conducted in both the United States and Israel, 20 percent of Jews in the United States considered themselves to be secular, or nonreligious, though they all identified themselves to be Jewish. In Read More contrast, virtually all Israeli Jews claimed to be both culturally and religiously Jewish.5 Show Less
On average, eight in 10 people in the world currently align themselves with a religious group.1 A recent religious demographic study shows that 2.2 billion, or 32%, of the world follows Christianity, 1.6 billion, 23%, are Muslims, 15% are Hindus, 7% are Buddhists, and 0.2% of the world is Jewish.2 Additionally,, 400 million people are affiliated with indigenous, folk, or other traditional religions, and 58 million people are religiously affiliated with smaller scale/lesser known religions such as Zoroastrianism, Wicca, and Sikhism.3 Christianity is currently the most evenly distributed religion with roughly equal amounts of Christians residing on the various continents.4 Muslims, Hindus, and Christians all tend to live in countries in which they are the majority.4 People who claim to be religiously unaffiliated are beginning Read More to grow in number and are the majority groups in China, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hong Kong, Japan, and North Korea.5 At the beginning of 2014, organizations noted that religious conflicts had reached a new high from observations taken over the past six years.6 In 2012 nearly one-third of all countries in the world recorded religiously motivated conflicts.7 For example Middle Eastern countries are still mitigating the effects of the Arab Spring uprisings.8 China has recently raised the religious conflict scale in the Asia-Pacific region.9 Additionally, nearly 29% of the world’s nations had high levels of government sanctioned religious restrictions for their citizens.10 The most common form of religious discrimination over the past year has been the abuse of citizens who are members of religious minorities.11 Around 47% of countries reported that this was the type of persecution that they faced.12 Religiously motivated terrorist activities have also increased in frequency over the past two years.13 Sectarian violence, especially in Syria, has increased in nearly one-fifth of the world.14 Sectarian strife has created strain on neighbouring countries since violence has caused entire groups of people to seek asylum in other countries.15 1 http://www.pewforum.org/2012/12/18/global-religious-landscape-exec/ 2-5 Ibid 6 http://www.pewforum.org/2014/01/14/religious-hostilities-reach-six-year-high/ 7-15 Ibid Show Less
Atheism is characterized by a lack of belief in the existence of a god or gods. Atheism is under the “Unaffiliated” religious demographic, according to the Pew Research Center.1 Just over 3 percent of adults in the United States identify as atheists.2 Agnostics claim they can not, or do not, know there is a god.3 Four percent of Americans claim agnosticism as their religious identity.4 Sixty eight percent of atheists in the U.S. are male, 78 percent are white, and the average age of an atheist is 34.5
Evangelism is the sharing of the Christian faith in order to convert, teach or persuade others to believe in Christianity.1 More nuanced definitions of evangelism focus less on conversion, instead emphasizing the need to share the Gospel message, regardless of actual conversion.2 A quarter of all Christians in the United States identify as an Evangelical Protestant.3 Worldwide, 2.18 billion people identify with some form of Christianity. Christianity includes Catholicism, Protestantism, the Christian Orthodox tradition and other traditions such as Jehovah’s Witness and Mormonism.4
Other world religions include— but are not limited to — the Baha’i faith, Shintoism, Jainism, Sikhism, Wicca, Zoroastrianism, Tenrikyo, Taoism or Daoism, Cao Dai, I-Kuan Tao, Mandaeism, the Rastafari movement, the R?tana movement, Scientology and Yazidism.1 The majority of these small-population world religions are located in the Asia Pacific region and in North America.2 India has the largest population of these other religions, largely due to the number of Sikhs and Jains in the nation.3
Spiritual development is defined as a growing awareness and connection to one’s faith, search for meaning and engagement with spiritual disciplines.1 Spiritual development can include personal experiences, mentorship, and relationships with peers, teachers and spiritual leaders.2

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