Global Christianity – A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World’s Christian Population

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Global Christianity – A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World’s Christian Population

来源:https://www.pewforum.org/2011/12/19/global-christianity-exec/

A comprehensive demographic study of more than 200 countries finds that there are 2.18 billion Christians of all ages around the world, representing nearly a third of the estimated 2010 global population of 6.9 billion. Christians are also geographically widespread – so far-flung, in fact, that no single continent or region can indisputably claim to be the center of global Christianity.

A century ago, this was not the case. In 1910, about two-thirds of the world’s Christians lived in Europe, where the bulk of Christians had been for a millennium, according to historical estimates by the Center for the Study of Global Christianity.2 Today, only about a quarter of all Christians live in Europe (26%). A plurality – more than a third – now are in the Americas (37%). About one in every four Christians lives in sub-Saharan Africa (24%), and about one-in-eight is found in Asia and the Pacific (13%).

Regional Distribution of Christians

The number of Christians around the world has nearly quadrupled in the last 100 years, from about 600 million in 1910 to more than 2 billion in 2010. But the world’s overall population also has risen rapidly, from an estimated 1.8 billion in 1910 to 6.9 billion in 2010. As a result, Christians make up about the same portion of the world’s population today (32%) as they did a century ago (35%).

This apparent stability, however, masks a momentous shift. Although Europe and the Americas still are home to a majority of the world’s Christians (63%), that share is much lower than it was in 1910 (93%). And the proportion of Europeans and Americans who are Christian has dropped from 95% in 1910 to 76% in 2010 in Europe as a whole, and from 96% to 86% in the Americas as a whole.

Major Christian Traditions

At the same time, Christianity has grown enormously in sub-Saharan Africa and the Asia-Pacific region, where there were relatively few Christians at the beginning of the 20th century. The share of the population that is Christian in sub-Saharan Africa climbed from 9% in 1910 to 63% in 2010, while in the Asia-Pacific region it rose from 3% to 7%. Christianity today – unlike a century ago – is truly a global faith. (See world maps weighted by Christian population in 1910 and 2010.)

These are some of the key findings of Global Christianity: A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World’s Christian Population, a new study by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life.

The study is based primarily on a country-by-country analysis of about 2,400 data sources, including censuses and nationally representative population surveys. For some countries, such as China, the Pew Forum’s estimates also take into account statistics from church groups, government reports and other sources. (See Appendix C [PDF] for more details on the range of estimates available for China.)

Christians are diverse theologically as well as geographically, the new study finds. About half are Catholic. Protestants, broadly defined, make up 37%. Orthodox Christians comprise 12% of Christians worldwide. Other Christians, such as Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses, make up the remaining 1% of the global Christian population. (See Defining Christian Traditions.)

Taken as a whole, however, Christians are by far the world’s largest religious group. Muslims, the second-largest group, make up a little less than a quarter of the world’s population, according to previous studies by the Pew Forum.3

Almost half (48%) of all Christians live in the 10 countries with the largest number of Christians. Three of the top 10 countries are in the Americas (the United States, Brazil and Mexico). Two are in Europe (Russia and Germany), two are in the Asia-Pacific region (the Philippines and China), and three are in sub-Saharan Africa (Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ethiopia), reflecting Christianity’s global reach.

10 countries with the largest number of christiansgc-exec-tease

Clearly, Christianity has spread far from its historical origins. For example:

Though Christianity began in the Middle East-North Africa, today that region has both the lowest concentration of Christians (about 4% of the region’s population) and the smallest number of Christians (about 13 million) of any major geographic region.
Indonesia, a Muslim-majority country, is home to more Christians than all 20 countries in the Middle East-North Africa region combined.
Nigeria now has more than twice as many Protestants (broadly defined to include Anglicans and independent churches) as Germany, the birthplace of the Protestant Reformation.
Brazil has more than twice as many Catholics as Italy.
Although Christians comprise just under a third of the world’s people, they form a majority of the population in 158 countries and territories, about two-thirds of all the countries and territories in the world.
About 90% of Christians live in countries where Christians are in the majority; only about 10% of Christians worldwide live as minorities.
Global Distribution of Christians
So where are the bulk of the world’s Christians today? The Pew Forum study suggests at least four possible answers, depending on how one divides up the world:

The Global South

In recent years, a number of scholarly books and articles have discussed the rapid growth of Christianity in the developing countries of the “Global South” – especially Africa, Asia and Latin America – and debated whether the influence of Christians in the “Global North” is waning, or not.4 A century ago, the Global North (commonly defined as North America, Europe, Australia, Japan and New Zealand) contained more than four times as many Christians as the Global South (the rest of the world).5 Today, the Pew Forum study finds, more than 1.3 billion Christians live in the Global South (61%), compared with about 860 million in the Global North (39%).

The Global North

But even though Christians are more numerous in the Global South, the concentration of Christians is much higher in the Global North, where 69% of the population is Christian. By contrast, 24% of the people living in the Global South are Christian. This reflects the fact that the total population of the Global South is about 4.5 times greater than the population of the Global North.

christian population by global north / global south, 1910 and 2010

Another way of looking at the distribution of Christians around the world is by region. Numerically, at least, Europe no longer dominates global Christianity the way it did 100 years ago. Rather, the bulk of Christians are in:

The Americas

Of the world’s five major geographic regions, the Americas have both the largest number and the highest proportion of Christians. More than a third of Christians worldwide (37%) live in the Americas, where nearly nine-in-ten people (86%) are Christian. The three countries with the largest Christian populations – the United States, Brazil and Mexico – are in the Americas. Together, these three countries alone account for nearly one in every four Christians in the world (24%), about the same proportion as the whole of Europe (26%) and all of sub-Saharan Africa (24%). Although Christians make up a smaller portion of the 2010 population in the Americas (86%) than they did in 1910 (96%), the Americas account for a higher share of the world’s Christians (37%, up from 27% in 1910).6

christian population by region 1910 and 2010

Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia-Pacific

But sub-Saharan Africa and the Asia-Pacific region now have a combined population of about 800 million Christians, roughly the same as the Americas. And five of the top 10 countries with the largest Christian populations are either in Africa (Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ethiopia) or Asia (Philippines and China). Moreover, the fastest growth in the number of Christians over the past century has been in sub-Saharan Africa (a roughly 60-fold increase, from fewer than 9 million in 1910 to more than 516 million in 2010) and in the Asia-Pacific region (a roughly 10-fold increase, from about 28 million in 1910 to more than 285 million in 2010).

How Estimates Were Generated
The Pew Forum, in consultation with demographers at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Laxenburg, Austria, acquired and analyzed about 2,400 data sources, including censuses and general population surveys, to arrive at Christian population figures for 232 countries and self-administering territories – all the countries and territories for which the United Nations Population Division provides overall population estimates. (See Appendix A [PDF] for a more detailed explanation of how the estimates were made; see Appendix D [PDF] for a list of data sources by country.)

gc-exec-all-tease

In many countries, however, censuses and surveys do not contain detailed information on denominational and religious movement affiliations. Christian organizations remain in many cases the only source of information on the size of global movements within Christianity (such as evangelicalism and pentecostalism) and on Protestant denominational families (such as Baptists and Methodists). The figures in this report on pentecostal, charismatic and evangelical Christians and on Protestant denominational families were commissioned by the Pew Forum from the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Mass., whose researchers generated estimates based in large part on figures provided by Christian organizations around the world. Readers should bear in mind that these breakdowns were derived differently from the overall Christian population estimates.

christians by movement
According to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity, there are about 279 million pentecostal Christians and 305 million charismatic Christians worldwide. (Charismatic Christians belong to non-pentecostal denominations yet engage in spiritual practices associated with pentecostalism, such as speaking in tongues and divine healing; see Defining Christian Movements.)

In addition, more than 285 million Christians can be classified as evangelicals because they either belong to churches affiliated with regional or global evangelical associations, or because they identify as evangelicals. Since many pentecostals and charismatics are also evangelicals, these categories are not mutually exclusive. (For more details, see Christian Movements and Denominations.)

Footnotes:

2 Historical figures throughout the executive summary are courtesy of Todd M. Johnson of the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Mass. Johnson is co-editor of the Atlas of Global Christianity, Edinburgh University Press, 2009. (return to text)

3 As of 2010, there were about 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide, representing 23.4% of the global population. For more details, see the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, The Future of the Global Muslim Population: Projections for 2010-2030, January 2011, and Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, Mapping the Global Muslim Population: A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World’s Muslim Population, October 2009. As noted in the preface of this report, the Pew Forum is gradually compiling baseline population estimates and projecting future growth rates for the world’s major faiths. (return to text)

4 See, for example, Philip Jenkins, The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity, Oxford University Press, 2002; Robert Wuthnow, Boundless Faith: The Global Outreach of American Churches, University of California Press, 2009; and Mark A. Noll, The New Shape of World Christianity: How American Experience Reflects Global Faith, InterVarsity Press, 2009. (return to text)

5 This common definition of Global North and Global South is not a simple geographic division of the world into Northern and Southern hemispheres. Rather, it takes into account levels of economic development as well as geography. Figures for 1910 are from a Pew Forum analysis of data from the Center for the Study of Global Christianity. (return to text)

6 Figures for 1910 are from a Pew Forum analysis of data from the Center for the Study of Global Christianity. (return to text)

Preface
This report focuses on the size and geographic distribution of the world’s Christian population as of 2010. It is, in that sense, a snapshot in time. But because the true picture is not static, the Executive Summary also presents some comparisons with the world’s Christian population a century earlier. This is far enough back in time to allow us to see substantial change, yet not so far back that the population figures become hopelessly murky.

The estimates for 1910 come from a leading expert in the quantitative analysis of historical data on Christian groups, Todd M. Johnson of the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Mass. Dr. Johnson and his colleagues at the Center for the Study of Global Christianity also provided the estimates for the size of global Christian movements (such as pentecostalism and evangelicalism) and Protestant denominational families (such as Baptists and Methodists), which are based primarily on church membership statistics.

All the other demographic data in the report – including the estimated number of Christians in each country and region of the world in 2010, as well as the breakdowns of those figures into Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox and other Christians – were compiled by the staff of the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life and are based primarily on censuses and nationally representative surveys. For the European estimates, the Pew Forum’s demographers worked in close collaboration with researchers at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Laxenburg, Austria.

GRFP_small
This effort is part of the Pew-Templeton Global Religious Futures project, which analyzes religious change and its impact on societies around the world. Previous demographic reports produced under the Pew-Templeton initiative, jointly funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts and the John Templeton Foundation, include Mapping the Global Muslim Population: A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World’s Muslim Population (October 2009) and The Future of the Global Muslim Population: Projections for 2010-2030 (January 2011). Gradually, we hope to publish estimates for the current size of other major religious groups, including the unaffiliated, as well as to project their growth rates into the future.

Readers should bear in mind that the definition of Christian in this report is very broad. The intent is sociological rather than theological: We are attempting to count groups and individuals who self-identify as Christian. This includes people who hold beliefs that may be viewed as unorthodox or heretical by other Christians. It also includes Christians who seldom pray or go to church. While this report does not make any attempt to measure what Christians believe or how they practice their faith, the Pew Forum has conducted and will continue to conduct numerous other studies that look closely at the beliefs and practices of Christians in the United States and around the world.1

The primary researchers for Global Christianity: A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World’s Christian Population are Pew Forum Demographer Conrad Hackett and Senior Researcher Brian J. Grim, the Pew Forum’s director of cross-national data. They received valuable research assistance from Noble Kuriakose and former Pew Forum research assistant Andrew J. Gully as well as other staff members listed on the masthead of this report. We are also indebted to Todd Johnson and to our colleagues at IIASA, particularly Vegard Skirbekk, Marcin Stonawski and Anne Goujon. We would like to thank Elizabeth H. Prodromou of Boston University and Alexandros Kyrou of Salem State University for sharing their deep knowledge of Orthodox Christianity. And last but not least, we are grateful to Timothy Samuel Shah of the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs at Georgetown University for his many contributions to this report, particularly the country profiles and definitions of various Christian traditions and movements.

Luis Lugo, Director
Alan Cooperman, Associate Director, Research

Footnotes:

1 See, for example, the Pew Forum’s U.S. Religious Landscape Survey (2008), Spirit and Power: A 10-Country Survey of Pentecostals (2006) and Tolerance and Tension: Islam and Christianity in Sub-Saharan Africa (April 2010). The two international surveys were also part of the Pew-Templeton Global Religious Futures project. (return to text)

Living as Majorities and Minorities
Most Christians live in countries where Christians are in the majority, but nearly 208 million (10%) live in countries where they are a religious minority. If all these Christians were in a single country, it would have the second-largest Christian population in the world, after the United States.

More than 80% of the Christians who live as religious minorities around the world are found in just 10 countries. China has the world’s largest Christian-minority population, although Christians make up only about 5% of China’s total population. Indeed, China probably has more Christians than any European nation except Russia. (See Appendix C [PDF] for more details on the range of estimates available for China.)
gc-maj/min-1
gc-maj/min-2
Of the 232 countries and territories included in this study, 158 have Christian majorities. However, most of the Christian-majority countries are relatively small: about seven-in-ten have fewer Christians than the Christian-minority country Vietnam (7 million Christians).

All 51 countries in the Americas have a Christian majority. In Europe, 46 of the 50 countries have a Christian majority, as do 34 of the 51 countries in sub-Saharan Africa and 27 of the 60 countries in the Asia-Pacific region.7 Christians are a minority, however, in all 20 countries in the Middle East-North Africa.

Footnotes:

7 The newly independent country of South Sudan, which has a Christian majority, is considered part of sub-Saharan Africa in this report. (return to text)

Christian Traditions

About half of all Christians worldwide are Catholic (50%), while more than a third are Protestant (37%). Orthodox communions comprise 12% of the world’s Christians. Other Christian groups, which make up the remaining 1%, include the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Christian Science Church. (See Defining Christian Traditions.)

estimated size of christian traditions

Catholic
The Catholic Church has 1.1 billion adherents worldwide, representing half of the global Christian population.

Brazil has the world’s largest number of Catholics (134 million). There are more Catholics in Brazil alone than in Italy, France and Spain combined. The 10 countries with the largest number of Catholics contain more than half (56%) of the world’s Catholics.

10 countries with the largest number of catholicsgc-catholic-2
Most of the countries with the largest Catholic populations have Catholic majorities. But the United States has the world’s fourth-largest Catholic population even though only about one-in-four Americans is Catholic. There are 67 countries in which Catholics make up a majority of the population.

More than 70% of Catholics live either in the Americas (48%) or in Europe (24%). Almost 40% live in Latin America alone. More than a quarter live either in the Asia-Pacific region (12%) or in sub-Saharan Africa (16%).

Protestant
The world’s 801 million Protestants, as broadly defined in this report (see Defining Christian Traditions), make up 37% of the global Christian population.

The Protestant Reformation, which split Western Christianity and gave birth to Protestantism, took place in Europe in the 16th century. Today, however, only two of the 10 countries with the largest Protestant populations are European.

gc-protestant-1gc-protestant-2
The United States has more Protestants than any other country – about 160 million, or 20% of the worldwide total. Nigeria is second, with nearly 60 million Protestants, or more than 7% of all Protestants worldwide. China has the world’s third-largest Protestant population (approximately 58 million), although less than 5% of China’s total population is Protestant. (See Appendix C [PDF] for more details on the range of estimates available for China.)

The 10 countries with the largest number of Protestants collectively account for 61% of the world’s Protestants. Protestants form a majority of the total population in 49 countries.

Despite Europe’s historical links to Protestantism, its share of the global Protestant population (13%) is eclipsed by the share in sub-Saharan Africa (37%), the Americas (33%) and the Asia-Pacific region (17%). Only the Middle East-North Africa has a smaller share of Protestants (less than 1%) than Europe.

Orthodox Christian
There are about 260 million Orthodox Christians, making up 12% of the global Christian population.

Nearly four-in-ten Orthodox Christians worldwide (39%) reside in Russia, the country with the largest number of Orthodox. Ethiopia has the second-largest number of Orthodox Christians and more than three times as many Orthodox as Greece. Although Turkey is the seat of the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople, one of the highest archbishops in Orthodox Christianity (see Defining Christian Traditions for details), its Orthodox population is relatively small (about 180,000).

gc-orthodox-1gc-orthodox-2

Nearly nine-in-ten (87%) of the world’s Orthodox Christians can be found in the 10 countries with the largest Orthodox populations. Most of the countries with large numbers of Orthodox Christians have an Orthodox majority – though the Orthodox make up less than half the total population in Ethiopia and only about 5% of the population in Egypt. (See spotlights on Ethiopia and Egypt.) Orthodox Christians make up a majority of the total population in 14 countries.

The Orthodox Christian population is heavily concentrated in Europe, which, for the purposes of this report, includes all of Russia. Europe is home to 77% of the global Orthodox population. Sub-Saharan Africa has about 15%, and the Asia-Pacific region (including Turkey) has roughly 5%. Small shares of Orthodox Christians also are found in the Middle East-North Africa (about 2%) and the Americas (1%).

Other Christian Traditions
There are about 28 million Christians in the world who do not belong to the three largest Christian traditions. Those belonging to other Christian groups make up slightly more than 1% of the global Christian population.

Many of the other Christian groups, including the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Jehovah’s Witnesses, began in the United States. Today, the United States is home to 37% of other Christians, although only about 3% of Americans belong to these groups.

About two-thirds (67%) of all other Christians live in the 10 countries with the largest number of other Christians.

gc-other-1gc-other-2
The majority of other Christians live in the Americas (63%). Smaller shares of other Christians live in sub-Saharan Africa (17%), Europe (11%) and the Asia-Pacific region (9%). Less than 1% of other Christians live in the Middle East-North Africa.

Defining Christian Traditions
Catholic
The Catholic Church includes the international body of churches in full communion with the bishop of Rome, the pope. These churches include the Western (or Latin) church and 22 Eastern Catholic churches.1 Each of these churches has a distinct hierarchy and traditional liturgy, prayers and religious observances. The Western (Latin) church is the largest of these autonomous churches. Among the major branches of the Eastern churches are the Alexandrian, Antiochene, Armenian, Byzantine and Chaldean.2

Catholicism, taken as a whole, is the world’s largest Christian tradition. The Catholic Church teaches that its bishops are the successors of Christ’s apostles and that the pope, as the successor to St. Peter, possesses a unique authority in the church.3 Catholic doctrine maintains that the church is infallible in its dogmatic teaching on matters of faith and morals.4 Catholic worship is centered on the Eucharist, in which, according to the church’s teaching, the bread and wine are supernaturally transformed into the body and blood of Christ. 5

Estimates for the number of Catholics in this report also include members of some relatively small Catholic groups (such as the Brazilian Catholic Apostolic Church) that are not in communion with the bishop of Rome.

Protestant
Protestants are broadly defined in this report to include three groups.6 The first group is made up of historic Protestants who belong to churches originating (or reformulated) at the time of the 16th-century Protestant Reformation in Europe, as well as other denominations that came later, such as Methodists. The Protestant Reformation was led by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other theologians who “protested” the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Catholic Church, leading to the creation of new national churches. The doctrines of the various Protestant denominations vary, but most include belief in grace through faith alone (known as sola fide or “by faith alone”), belief in the Bible as the ultimate authority in matters of faith and order (known as sola scriptura or “by scripture alone”) and belief in the priesthood of all believers.7

Anglicans are the second group of Christians categorized in this report under the broad banner of Protestantism. This category refers to Christians who belong to churches with historical connections to the Church of England or have similar beliefs, worship styles and church structures. The great majority of Anglicans are members of churches that are part of the international Anglican Communion, which recognizes the archbishop of Canterbury as its “Focus for Unity.”8 The Church of England emerged as a distinct Western Christian ecclesial tradition in the early 16th century, when King Henry VIII declared his supremacy over the English church and its independence from papal authority.9

The third group broadly defined as Protestants in this report is independent Christians. Independent Christians have developed ecclesial structures, beliefs and practices that are claimed to be independent of historic, organized Christianity.10 Independent Christians include denominations in sub-Saharan Africa that identify as independent from historically Protestant denominations, churches in China that are not affiliated with official religious associations and nondenominational churches in the United States.

Orthodox Christian
Orthodox Christians are members of self-governing churches that belong to the Eastern Christian tradition. In 1054, the Great Schism divided the Christian church into an Eastern, Greek church centered in Constantinople (Istanbul today) and a Western, Latin church centered in Rome. This formalized a cleavage that had been growing for centuries. A major source of division was that the Eastern church did not recognize the bishop of Rome’s claimed jurisdiction over the entire church. The Eastern insistence on ecclesial autonomy persists: Orthodox Christianity is organized into “autocephalous” churches, each under the leadership of its own supreme patriarch.

Orthodox Christianity has two main branches: Eastern Orthodox churches and Oriental Orthodox churches. There are more than a dozen autocephalous Eastern Orthodox churches, including the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, the Patriarchate of Antioch, the Greek Orthodox Church, the Russian Orthodox Church, the Romanian Orthodox Church, the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.11 Though they are under no common hierarchical authority, the Eastern Orthodox churches enjoy full communion with each other. The head of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople is recognized by all Eastern Orthodox churches as the “Ecumenical Patriarch” who enjoys primacy of honor as well as unique authority to convene pan-Orthodox synods and promote Orthodox unity.12

Oriental Orthodox churches are those Eastern Orthodox churches that recognize only the first three ecumenical councils convened by the church’s bishops to discuss and determine matters of church doctrine and discipline — the First Council of Nicaea, the First Council of Constantinople and the First Council of Ephesus.13 Unlike the Eastern Orthodox Church, which embraces the Council of Chalcedon’s teaching that Christ has two natures, divine and human, Oriental Orthodox churches hold that Christ has one indivisible nature. The Oriental Orthodox churches are therefore also called non-Chalcedonian churches. The Oriental Orthodox churches include the Coptic Orthodox Church, Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Eritrean Orthodox Church, Syriac Orthodox Church, Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church (India) and Armenian Apostolic Church.14

Other Christian Traditions
Members of other Christian groups self-identify as Christian although older Christian traditions may view them as distinct from mainstream Christianity. Many of these groups – including the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Christian Science Church – originated in the United States. These groups often depart from traditional Christian beliefs with respect to the trinitarian nature of God and have additional sacred texts beyond the Christian Bible and/or their own authoritative interpretations of the Bible. For example, the canon of the Mormon church includes four texts: the Bible (both Old and New Testaments), the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that “Christ is God’s Son and is inferior to Him” as well as that the destruction of the present world system at Armageddon is imminent.15 They prefer their own Bible translation, the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures.16 Christian Science was founded by Mary Baker Eddy (1821-1910). Her 1875 book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, is one of its central texts, along with the Bible.17 Other groups in this category include the Unification Church, Swedenborgians and Christadelphians.

Footnotes:

1 “Methodology,” in David B. Barrett, editor, World Christian Encyclopedia: A Comparative Study of Churches and Religions in the Modern World, AD 1900-2000, Oxford University Press, 1982, page 80. (return to text)

2 “Eastern Rites,” in J. D. Douglas, Walter A. Elwell and Peter Toon, The Concise Dictionary of the Christian Tradition: Doctrine, Liturgy, History, Regency Reference Library, 1989, page 135. (return to text)

3 “Apostles,” in Honoré Coppieters, The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 1, Robert Appleton Company, 1907; “The Pope,” in George Joyce, The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 12, Robert Appleton Company, 1911. (return to text)

4 “Faith,” in Hugh Pope, The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 5, Robert Appleton Company, 1909; “Morality,” in George Joyce, The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 10, Robert Appleton Company, 1911. (return to text)

5 “Roman Catholicism,” in J. D. Douglas, Walter A. Elwell and Peter Toon, The Concise Dictionary of the Christian Tradition: Doctrine, Liturgy, History, Regency Reference Library, 1989, page 330; “Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches,” in New Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 14, Gale, 2002, page 158. (return to text)

6 Some information about the estimated distribution of Protestants among these subgroups is provided in the section on Christian Movements and Denominations. (return to text)

7 “Protestantism,” in J. D. Douglas, Walter A. Elwell and Peter Toon, The Concise Dictionary of the Christian Tradition: Doctrine, Liturgy, History, Regency Reference Library, 1989, page 309; F. L. Cross, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, Oxford University Press, 1957, pages 1116-1117; John Bowker, editor, The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, Oxford University Press, 1997, pages 771-772. (return to text)

8 Anglican Communion Office.(return to text)

9 “Protestantism: Anglican Communion,” in The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, Volume 26, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc., 2007, page 246. (return to text)

10 “Independents,” in Todd M. Johnson and Kenneth R. Ross, editors, Atlas of Global Christianity, Edinburgh University Press, 2009, pages 76-77. (return to text)

11 Some of the autocephalous churches are headed by “patriarchs” while the others are headed by archbishops or metropolitans. See “Eastern Orthodoxy,” in The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, Volume 17, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc., 2007, page 838. (return to text)

12 “Eastern Orthodox Church,” in J. D. Douglas, Walter A. Elwell and Peter Toon, The Concise Dictionary of the Christian Tradition: Doctrine, Liturgy, History, Regency Reference Library, 1989, pages 134-135; “Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches,” in New Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 10, Gale, 2002, pages 679-681; “Eastern Orthodoxy,” in The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, Volume 17, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc., 2007, page 838. (return to text)

13 An ecumenical or general council is a meeting of all of the church’s bishops to discuss and determine matters of church doctrine and discipline. Many councils were convened to address specific theological disputes. For example, the First Council of Nicaea was convened in 325 to resolve disagreements concerning the relationship between Christ and God the Father; the First Council of Constantinople was convened in 381 to ratify the work of the Council of Nicaea and definitively end ongoing controversy concerning the relationship between Christ and the Father; and the First Council of Ephesus was convened in 431 to resolve emerging disagreement concerning the nature of Christ and the relationship between his humanity and divinity. The Council of Chalcedon was convened in 451 to resolve disagreements concerning the nature of Christ. (See “Arius, Arianism” in David W. Bercot, editor, A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs: A Reference Guide to More Than 700 Topics Discussed by the Early Church Fathers, Hendrickson Publishers, 1998, pages 35-36; John Bowker, editor, The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, Oxford University Press, 1997, pages 235, 241-242, 316, 692). (return to text)

14 “Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches,” in New Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 10, Gale, 2002, page 681. The Syrian Orthodox Church changed its name to the Syriac Orthodox Church in 2000. See Atlas of Global Christianity, Edinburgh University Press, 2009, page 84. (return to text)

15 Watchtower, Official Web Site of Jehovah’s Witnesses, http://www.watchtower.org/e/jt/article_03.htm and http://www. watchtower.org/e/dg/article_09.htm. (return to text)

16 Watchtower, Official Web Site of Jehovah’s Witnesses. (return to text)

17 ChristianScience.com, owned and operated by The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and its affiliate, The Christian Science Publishing Society. (return to text)

Regional Distribution of Christians

This report divides the world into five regions to take a closer look at the geographic distribution of Christians. (To view all the countries in each region, see the Interactive Maps.)

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The five regions are presented in descending order of Christian population, with the region with the highest number of Christians (the Americas) appearing first and the region with the lowest number of Christians (the Middle East-North Africa) appearing last.

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Americas
(51 COUNTRIES AND TERRITORIES)

Christians living in the Americas make up 37% of Christians worldwide.8 The three countries in the Americas with the largest Christian populations also have the three largest Christian populations in the world: the United States (247 million Christians), Brazil (176 million) and Mexico (108 million). The 10 countries in the Americas with the largest number of Christians collectively are home to a third (33%) of all the world’s Christians.

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Nearly two-thirds of Christians in the Americas (65%) are Catholic. Protestants make up a third of all Christians (33%) in the region. About 2% of the region’s Christians fall into the other Christian category, and less than 1% are Orthodox Christians.gc-americas-2

gc-spotlight-brazilSpotlight on Brazil

More than 175 million Brazilians are Christian, making the country’s Christian population the largest outside the United States. By way of comparison, Brazil has more than twice as many Christians as Nigeria and about three times as many as Germany. Indeed, nearly one-in-twelve Christians in the world (8%) are Brazilian, and an overwhelming majority of Brazilians (90%) identify themselves as Christian.

Since the Portuguese conquest of Brazil in the 16th century, the country has been overwhelmingly Catholic. In 1950, almost 94% of Brazilians identified with Catholicism; as recently as 1980, Catholic affiliation approached 90%. Between 1980 and 2000, however, the Catholic share of Brazil’s population fell by 15 percentage points to 74%.1 Despite the decline, Brazil’s Catholic population of about 134 million remains by far the largest in the world. (Mexico’s Catholic population is a distant second at 96 million.) About one-in-eight Catholics worldwide (12%) are Brazilian.

Catholicism’s historical dominance in Brazil has given way to increasing Christian diversity. In 1940, only 2.6% of Brazil’s population was Protestant.2 Now about 21% of the population is Protestant. This fastgrowing Protestant community is overwhelmingly pentecostal; according to a 2006 Pew Forum survey, 72% of Protestants interviewed indicated they were pentecostal.3 (For more details on pentecostals, see Defining Christian Movements.)

Pentecostal beliefs and practices also are changing the way many of Brazil’s Catholics practice their faith. The 2006 Pew Forum survey found that more than half of Brazilian Catholics identify with the charismatic movement, which includes members of non-pentecostal denominations who engage in at least some spiritual practices associated with pentecostalism, such as divine healing and speaking in tongues.4 (For more details on charismatics, see Defining Christian Movements.)

Footnotes:

1 Figures cited in this sidebar are from Brazil’s national decennial census. For more details on religious trends in Brazil, see Luis Lugo, “Pope to Visit ‘Pentecostalized’ Brazil,” Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, 2007. (return to text)

2 The figure is from Brazil’s national census. See Emilio Willems, Followers of the New Faith; Culture Change and the Rise of Protestantism in Brazil and Chile, Vanderbilt University Press, 1967, pages 66-67. (return to text)

3 Approximately eight-in-ten Protestants interviewed indicated they were either pentecostal or charismatic. Survey results suggest that the Assemblies of God is the single largest pentecostal church, accounting for four-in-ten pentecostals. The survey was based on a probability sample of Brazilian cities and surrounding areas and excluded rural parts of the country. See Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, Spirit and Power: A 10-Country Survey of Pentecostals, 2006. (return to text)

4 Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, Spirit and Power: A 10-Country Survey of Pentecostals, 2006. (return to text)

gc-spotlight-usSpotlight on the United States

The United States is the world’s third most populous country, but it has by far the largest Christian population. With nearly a quarter of a billion Christians, the U.S. dwarfs even Brazil, which has the world’s second-largest Christian community (more than 175 million). About 80% of the U.S. population identifies as Christian, and U.S. Christians represent 11% of the world’s Christians.Since the birth of the nation in 1776, the vast majority of religious Americans have been Christian. The settlers who colonized the Eastern seaboard between New France in the north and Florida in the south came largely from majority-Protestant Northern Europe, especially England, Scotland, Wales, the Netherlands, Scandinavia and Northern Germany.

American Christianity went from being dominated by a few established Protestant denominations in the founding era to today’s highly diverse mix, with innumerable Protestant groups, a large Catholic population and significant numbers of Orthodox and other Christians. In 1776, the vast majority of Americans active in a religious body belonged to only a handful of Protestant denominations: Congregationalist, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Baptist and Quaker. By the mid-19th century, however, the picture had changed. The Methodist Church had become by far the largest Protestant denomination by 1850. And before the end of the 19th century, Roman Catholics — who represented a small portion of the population in 1776 and only 5% in 1850 — became America’s largest single Christian group, although Protestants collectively still greatly outnumbered Catholics. By 1906, the U.S. was home to 14 million Catholics, who represented 17% of the population.1 Today, fortified by a steady flow of immigrants from mostly Catholic Latin America, Catholics in the U.S. number more than 74 million, about 24% of the U.S. population. The Southern Baptist Convention is now the largest U.S. Protestant denomination.2

Other factors, too, have diversified America’s religious landscape. Other Christian groups such as Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses, many of which were founded in the United States in the 19th century, have grown dramatically and together number nearly 11 million adherents, or about 3% of the U.S. population. The U.S. is also home to nearly 2 million Orthodox Christians. Membership in long-established Protestant churches, such as Congregationalists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians and Methodists, has declined, while membership in newer evangelical and pentecostal churches has grown. Today, the U.S. has more evangelical Protestants than any other country in the world.

At the same time, the proportion of Americans who are Christian has declined in recent years, from well over 90% in 1900 to almost 80% today. This has happened for a variety of reasons, including the growth in “unaffiliated” Americans (atheists, agnostics and those who say they do not have any religion in particular), as well as postwar non-Christian immigration from the Asia-Pacific region and the Middle East-North Africa. In addition, a nation whose population was overwhelmingly Protestant a century ago has had, in recent years, a declining Protestant majority (51% in 2007, according to the Pew Forum’s U.S. Religious Landscape Survey).3

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1 Historical data in this and the preceding paragraph are drawn from Roger Finke and Rodney Stark, The Churching of America, 1776-2005: Winners and Losers in Our Religious Economy, Rutgers University Press, 2005. (return to text)

2 Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, conducted in 2007 and published in 2008. (return to text)

3 Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, conducted in 2007 and published in 2008. (return to text)

Europe
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(50 COUNTRIES AND TERRITORIES)

Roughly a quarter of the world’s Christians (26%) live in Europe.9 This makes Europe the region with the second-largest share of the world’s Christians, following the Americas. Russia has the largest absolute number of Christians in Europe (105 million). Despite the Communist government’s attempts to minimize religion in the country for much of the 20th century, more than 70% of Russians are Christian, primarily Orthodox Christian.10 Russia alone accounts for about 19% of Europe’s Christians and nearly 5% of the world’s Christians. Russia and the other nine countries with the largest number of Christians in Europe (Germany, Italy, United Kingdom, France, Ukraine, Spain, Poland, Romania and Greece) collectively are home to one-in-five (20%) of the world’s Christians.

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Catholics are the largest Christian group in Europe, accounting for more than four-in-ten European Christians (46%).

The second-largest Christian group in Europe is the Orthodox, who make up 35% of European Christians. The overwhelming majority of the world’s Orthodox Christians (76%) reside in Europe.

Although the Protestant Reformation began in Europe, today fewer than one-in-five European Christians (18%) are part of the Protestant tradition as broadly defined in this report. (See Defining Christian Traditions.)

gc-spotlight-germanySpotlight on Germany

Germany has about 58 million Christians, making it the country with the largest Christian population in Western Europe and second only to Russia in Europe as a whole. Germany’s Christian population is also the ninth-largest in the world. More than 70% of the country’s total population is Christian, divided almost evenly between Protestants and Roman Catholics.

Germanic tribes such as the Goths, Lombards and Franks were gradually converted to Roman Catholicism between roughly the 5th and 8th centuries. The formation of the Holy Roman Empire, beginning in the 10th century, served to consolidate Catholic influence across central Europe.

The 16th-century Protestant Reformation, launched by the German Augustinian monk Martin Luther, divided the territories of what is now Germany into a predominantly Protestant North and a predominantly Catholic South. This division endures today. (States that belonged to East Germany were predominantly Protestant, but they saw a substantial decline in religious adherence during communist rule.)

There are nearly 29 million Protestants in Germany today, accounting for about a third of the overall population, and most are members of the Evangelical Church in Germany (Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland). Roman Catholics account for a third of the German population, totaling about 28 million. Germany also is home to more than a million Orthodox Christians and more than 500,000 other Christians. According to historical estimates, roughly 60% of Germans were Protestant before World War II, and about one-third professed Roman Catholicism. This suggests that the Protestant proportion of the population has declined significantly, whereas the Catholic proportion has remained roughly the same.1

Muslims represent the largest non-Christian religious group in Germany. Germany’s estimated Muslim population in 2010 was about 4.1 million, or about 5% of the total population.2

Footnotes:

1 “Germany,” in David B. Barrett, George Thomas Kurian and Todd M. Johnson, editors, World Christian Encyclopedia, Volume 1: The World by Countries: Religionists, Churches, Ministries, Oxford University Press, 2001, page 299. (return to text)

2 Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, The Future of the Global Muslim Population: Projections for 2010-2030, 2011. (return to text)

gc-spotlight-ukSpotlight on United Kingdom

Christians are by far the largest religious group in the United Kingdom, representing more than 70% of its population. The U.K.’s Christian population of 45 million is the fourth-largest in Europe and the 12th-largest in the world. The majority of Christians in the United Kingdom are Anglicans. (For more information on Anglicans, see Defining Christian Traditions on page 38.)

Christianity arrived in the British Isles as early as the 1st century. In the late 6th century, Pope Gregory the Great sent a missionary, Augustine, to convert the Anglo-Saxon peoples of Britain. Augustine became the first archbishop of Canterbury and primate of an officially recognized Church of England, in full communion with the pope. Catholic Christianity had become firmly established in England, Scotland and Wales by the time King Henry VIII declared his supremacy over the English church in 1534. While the eventual result of the English Reformation was that most of the English people came to adhere to Anglicanism, a minority remained loyal Catholics or joined “non-conformist” groups that rejected the official church as insufficiently reformed.1

Though the United Kingdom’s population remains predominantly Christian, surveys and censuses indicate that a declining share of the population identifies as Christian. For example, the Annual Population Survey conducted by Britain’s Office of National Statistics found that the proportion of people professing Christianity fell from about 78% in 2004-2005 to about 72% in 2008.2

Footnotes:

1 “UK of Great Britain & Northern Ireland,” in David B. Barrett, editor, World Christian Encyclopedia: A Comparative Study of Churches and Religions in the Modern World, AD 1900-2000, Oxford University Press, 1982, pages 699-703. (return to text)

2 Each round of the Annual Population Survey had a sample size of more than 300,000 people. The survey does not include data from Northern Ireland. (return to text)

gc-spotlight-russiaSpotlight on Russia

Straddling Europe and Asia, Russia could be considered the most populous Christian-majority country on both continents. But for the purposes of this report, Russia is considered a European nation. Its 105 million Christians constitute the world’s fourth-largest Christian population (and the single largest outside the Americas). About 5% of the world’s Christians live in Russia. Moreover, Russia is home to the largest autocephalous (or ecclesiastically independent) Eastern Orthodox Church in the world, the Russian Orthodox Church.1

Byzantine monks first introduced Christianity into Russia in the 9th century. Following his baptism in 988, Vladimir I, the prince of Kiev, led his people into Christianity. The Eastern Orthodox Church has remained the largest religious institution in Russia despite monumental changes in the country’s political system, from monarchy, to Soviet communism, to the current parliamentary and presidential system. Today, a little more than 70% of Russia’s population identifies as Orthodox.2

While Orthodox Christianity is still the dominant religion in Russia, other Christian traditions have grown in recent decades. Outside of the Orthodox Church, Protestants constitute the largest Christian group, with nearly 3 million adherents. A large segment of the Russian population does not identify as Christian, including many who are unaffiliated with any particular religion. According to a 2011 Pew Forum report, Russia has the largest Muslim population in Europe (in absolute numbers).3

Footnotes:

1 “Orthodox, 1910-2010,” in Todd M. Johnson and Kenneth R. Ross, editors, Atlas of Global Christianity, Edinburgh University Press, 2009, page 86. (return to text)

2 Harold Berman, “Freedom of Religion in Russia,” in John Witte and Michael Bourdeaux, editors, Proselytism and Orthodoxy in Russia: The New War for Souls, Orbis Books, 1999, page 266.(return to text)

3 The Pew Forum’s January 2011 report, The Future of the Global Muslim Population, found that, as of 2010, there were 16.4 million Muslims in Russia. See Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, The Future of the Global Muslim Population: Projections for 2010-2030, 2011.(return to text)

Sub-Saharan Africa
(51 COUNTRIES AND TERRITORIES)

Sub-Saharan Africa has more than 500 million Christians, which makes it the region with the third-largest number of Christians worldwide.11 Collectively, the region’s 51 countries and territories are home to nearly a quarter of the world’s Christians (24%).

Together, the 10 countries with the largest number of Christians in sub-Saharan Africa have about one-in-six of the world’s Christians.

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The majority of Christians in sub-Saharan Africa are Protestant (57%), as broadly defined in this report; this includes members of African Independent Churches and Anglicans.12 About one-in-three Christians in the region (34%) are Catholic. Orthodox Christians account for about 8% of the region’s Christians, and other Christians make up the remaining 1%.

gc-spotlight-nigeriaSpotlight on Nigeria

Nigeria is sub-Saharan Africa’s most populous country and is home to the region’s largest Christian population. The West African nation has more than 80 million Christians, who account for about half of the country’s total population. There are more Christians in Nigeria than in any single nation in traditionally Christian Western Europe.1 In fact, Nigeria’s Christian population is nearly the same size as the total population of Germany. Nigeria’s Muslim population is nearly equal to its Christian population; according to the Pew Forum’s 2011 analysis of the global Muslim population, there were about 76 million Muslims in Nigeria in 2010.2

Because the proportion of Muslims and Christians in Nigeria is a sensitive political issue, the national census has not asked questions about religion since 1963.3 In 1953, 21.4% of Nigeria’s population was Christian, 45.3% was Muslim and 33.3% belonged to other religions, including African traditional religions. By 1963, the percentage of the population that belonged to other religions had declined by 15 points, nearly matching the 13.1-point increase for Christians. During this same period, the percentage of Muslims increased by less than 2 points.4 Christians have since increased in number and share to become about half of the population.

Nigeria’s large Christian community is diverse. It includes nearly 60 million Protestants (broadly defined), about 20 million Catholics and more than 750,000 other Christians. All of Christianity’s major groups have grown in Nigeria since the 1970s, but the growth of pentecostal churches has been especially dramatic in recent decades.5

Footnotes:

1 For the purposes of this report, traditionally Christian Western Europe includes the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. (return to text)

2 Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, The Future of the Global Muslim Population: Projections for 2010-2030, 2011. (return to text)

3 Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, Spirit and Power: A 10-Country Survey of Pentecostals, 2006. (return to text)

4 Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, Spirit and Power: A 10-Country Survey of Pentecostals, 2006, page 85. (return to text)

5 Allan Anderson, An Introduction to Pentecostalism: Global Charismatic Christianity, Cambridge University Press, 2004, pages 159-161. (return to text)

gc-spotlight-ethiopiaSpotlight on Ethiopia
Ethiopia has the third-largest Christian population in sub-Saharan Africa, after Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Ethiopia has had a significant Christian presence since the establishment of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in the early 4th century. Since that time, the Orthodox Church has remained Ethiopia’s most influential religious body, with strong links between church, state and national identity.1 Today, the country’s Christians represent about 63% of the population. Muslims constitute the largest non- Christian group, accounting for about a third of the population.2 Ethiopia’s Christian community dates back to the early 4th century, when the emperor of the Ethiopian Axumite Kingdom converted to Christianity. After the emperor’s conversion, the patriarch of Alexandria in Egypt appointed a bishop to oversee a new church in Ethiopia. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church remained under the oversight of Egyptian Orthodox bishops of the Coptic Church until 1959, when it came under an Ethiopian patriarch. Like the Coptic Church and other Oriental Orthodox churches, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church teaches that Christ has one indivisible nature rather than two separate natures, divine and human (see Defining Christian Traditions on page 38). One of the world’s oldest churches, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church has its own liturgical language and calendar.3 The vast majority of Ethiopia’s Christians have adhered to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church for most of the past 1,700 years.4 Significant diversity has begun to characterize Ethiopia’s Christian population only in the last 25 years.5 Protestants and Catholics combined accounted for less than 5% of the population as recently as 1980.6 Today, however, the groups classified in this report as Protestant — including Anglicans and members of African Independent Churches — represent nearly 20% of all Ethiopians and 30% of the country’s Christians. Roman Catholics make up less than 1% of Ethiopia’s total population.

Footnotes:

1“Ethiopian Orthodox church,” in The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, Volume 4, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc., 2007, page 581. (return to text)

2 Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, The Future of the Global Muslim Population: Projections for 2010-2030, 2011. (return to text)

3 Getnet Tamene, “Features of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and the Clergy,” in Asian and African Studies, Volume 7, Issue 1, 1998, pages 87-104; “Ethiopia,” in David B. Barrett, editor, World Christian Encyclopedia: A Comparative Study of Churches and Religions in the Modern World, AD 1900-2000, Oxford University Press, 1982, page 284. (return to text)

4 “Ethiopia,” in David B. Barrett, editor, World Christian Encyclopedia: A Comparative Study of Churches and Religions in the Modern World, AD 1900-2000, Oxford University Press, 1982, pages 283-284. (return to text)

5 “Ethiopia,” in David B. Barrett, George Thomas Kurian and Todd M. Johnson, editors, World Christian Encyclopedia, Volume 1: The World by Countries: Religionists, Churches, Ministries, Oxford University Press, 2001, page 266. (return to text)

6 “Ethiopia,” in David B. Barrett, editor, World Christian Encyclopedia: A Comparative Study of Churches and Religions in the Modern World, AD 1900-2000, Oxford University Press, 1982, page 283. (return to text)

Asia-Pacific
(60 COUNTRIES AND TERRITORIES)

The Asia-Pacific region includes 13% of the world’s Christians.13 The region’s largest Christian population in absolute numbers is in the Philippines, a country that is overwhelmingly Christian (93%). Christians make up a minority of the population in China (5%), India (3%) and Indonesia (9%), but because these countries have very large populations, their Christian minorities are large in number. Collectively, the 10 countries with the largest Christian populations in the region are home to 12% of all Christians worldwide.

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Slightly less than half of Christians in the Asia-Pacific region (49%) are Protestant, as broadly defined in this report (see Defining Christian Traditions). Most of the remaining Christians in the region are Catholic (46%), while 4% are Orthodox. About 1% belong to other Christian traditions.

gc-spotlight-chinaSpotlight on China

China, the world’s most populous country, is home to the world’s seventh-largest Christian population. (For details on this study’s multi-sourced estimate for China, see Appendix C [PDF].) In the Asia-Pacific region, only the Philippines has a larger Christian population. Mainland China has roughly 67 million Christians, representing about 5% of the country’s total population.1 China is home to the world’s largest number of Christians living as a minority. (See Living as Majorities and Minorities.)

As recently as three decades ago, few researchers even within mainland China knew whether religion had survived the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) initiated by Chairman Mao Zedong. It is clear now, however, that religion not only survived but that hundreds of millions of Chinese today have some religious faith, including tens of millions of Christians. Visible in nearly every major Chinese city are the steeples of churches affiliated with one of the two state-approved and state-regulated Christian associations: the Protestant Three-Self Patriotic Movement and the Patriotic Catholic Association. Both associations operate their own seminaries, employ thousands of clergy and are served by the Amity Printing Company in Nanjing, which prints more than 10 million Bibles annually.

Despite these visible manifestations of Chinese Christianity, there are significant challenges in estimating its actual size. Published estimates range from about 1% of the population in some relatively smallsample public opinion surveys to about 8% based on reviews of church membership reports.2 Indeed, the estimate offered in this study (5%) is only an approximate one. (See Appendix C [PDF] for more details.)

A precise figure for the number of Christians in China is difficult to nail down because, aside from the fact that China does not ask about religion on its census, there is no fully representative survey of China’s 1.3 billion people. A further complication is that a substantial number of Christians worship in independent, unregistered churches. These churches do not have legal status because they have not affiliated with one of the two officially approved associations. Unregistered independent Protestant churches, often referred to as “house churches,” meet in various venues including homes, rented facilities, businesses and even public places. Additionally, a substantial number of Catholics worship in unregistered congregations that refuse to join the Patriotic Catholic Association. A main point of contention is that the Association operates independently from Rome; for instance, it appoints bishops without the approval of the pope.

Unregistered churches in China operate in what Purdue University Professor Fenggang Yang refers to as “grey” or “black” religious marketplaces.3 In practice, unregistered churches are forced to operate on the edges of the law. This is because there are few specific laws that clearly establish the limits and freedoms of religious groups in society.4 Because of the ambiguous, and sometimes adversarial, relationship between the government and Christian groups that are not willing to join the state-approved associations, attempts to measure the size of these

groups can be met with suspicion by all sides.

As noted above, this study’s review of numerous research sources suggests that Christians make up approximately 5% of China’s population, numbering about 67 million. Of these, roughly 9 million (0.7% of China’s total population) are Catholics, including 5.7 million who are affiliated with the state-approved Patriotic Catholic Association and a conservatively estimated 3.3 million who are affiliated solely with unregistered Catholic congregations. The exact number of Catholics in unregistered congregations is difficult to estimate because there may be double counting in some Catholic dioceses where churches and bishops are affiliated with both the official and unofficial churches. For instance, Beijing Archbishop Joseph Li Shan is recognized by both the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association and the Vatican.

Christians affiliated with the state-approved Protestant Three-Self Patriotic Movement number roughly 23 million (1.7% of the total population). This study estimates that an additional 35 million Christians in China (2.6% of the population) are affiliated with unregistered churches or attend state-approved churches without having formal membership. Additionally, there are small populations of Orthodox Christians and other Christians, some of whom are expatriates.

The general consensus among scholars of religion in China is that Christianity has grown substantially during the past three decades. It is too soon to know, however, whether Christianity’s growth has peaked or will continue in the years ahead. Whichever turns out to be the case, the religious future of the world’s most populous country will have a major impact not only on Christianity but on other religious traditions as well. (Additional information on the religious situation in China is included in Appendix C: Methodolgy for China [PDF].)

Footnotes:

1 This study includes separate estimates for Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. (return to text)

2 Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, Religion in China on the Eve of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, 2008. (return to text)

3 Fenggang Yang, “The Red, Black, and Gray Markets of Religion in China,” The Sociological Quarterly, Volume 47, 2006, pages 93–122. (return to text)

4 For an overview of China’s restrictions on religion in a global context, see Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, Rising Restrictions on Religion, 2011. (return to text)

gc-spotlight-philippinesSpotlight on the Philippines

The Philippines has the fifth-largest Christian population in the world, with about 87 million Christians. Indeed, the Philippines has the largest Christian population outside of the Americas and Europe. It also has the third-largest Catholic population in the world (at about 76 million), behind Brazil and Mexico and slightly ahead of the U.S. Catholic population. (See table in Catholic.)

Roman Catholic priests and missionaries began arriving in the Philippines in the 16th and 17th centuries, around the time of the Spanish conquest of the country. The church steadily gained adherents over the centuries. By 1900, nearly three-quarters of the population professed Roman Catholicism.1 Spain’s control of the archipelago, which did not formally end until 1898 with the advent of American colonial rule, gave the church in the Philippines a Spanish cast, particularly in terms of leadership. The first Filipino bishop was consecrated in 1905, and the first Filipino cardinal in 1960.2 Today, Roman Catholics make up about 81% of the country’s population.

Though overwhelmingly Catholic, the Christian population of the Philippines also includes a significant number of Protestants. About one-in-ten Filipinos (11%) are Protestant. The Pew Forum’s 2006 survey of pentecostals found that nearly seven-in-ten Filipino Protestants were either pentecostal (37% of Protestants) or charismatic (30% of Protestants).3 (For definitions of charismatic and pentecostal, see Defining Christian Movements.)

The country also has one of the world’s largest populations of charismatic Catholics. The largest and most visible charismatic Catholic organization in the Philippines is El Shaddai, under the leadership of a layperson, Mike Velarde.4 Among the largest pentecostal churches and organizations are Church of Christ (Manalista), Jesus is Lord Fellowship and the Assemblies of God.5

About 1% of the population of the Philippines belongs to other Christian groups. One of the largest non- Protestant Christian groups in the country is the Church of Christ (Iglesia ni Cristo), a non-Trinitarian indigenous church founded in 1914.6

More than 6 million Filipinos, or about 7% of the population, are non-Christians, most of whom are Muslim.7

Footnotes:

1 “Philippines,” in David B. Barrett, editor, World Christian Encyclopedia: A Comparative Study of Churches and Religions in the Modern World, AD 1900-2000, Oxford University Press, 1982, page 562. (return to text)

2 “Philippines,” in David B. Barrett, editor, World Christian Encyclopedia: A Comparative Study of Churches and Religions in the Modern World, AD 1900-2000, Oxford University Press, 1982, page 564. (return to text)

3 Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, Spirit and Power: A 10-Country Survey of Pentecostals, 2006. (return to text)

4 Katharine L. Wiegele, Investing in Miracles: El Shaddai and the Transformation of Popular Catholicism in the Philippines, Ateneo de Manila University Press, 2007; Allan Anderson, An Introduction to Pentecostalism: Global Charismatic Christianity, Cambridge University Press, 2004, page 155. (return to text)

5 “Philippines,” in David B. Barrett, George Thomas Kurian and Todd M. Johnson, editors, World Christian Encyclopedia, Volume 1: The World by Countries: Religionists, Churches, Ministries, Oxford University Press, 2001, pages 598-600. (return to text)

6 “Philippines,” in David B. Barrett, editor, World Christian Encyclopedia: A Comparative Study of Churches and Religions in the Modern World, AD 1900-2000, Oxford University Press, 1982, page 564; Robert R. Reed, “The Iglesia ni Cristo, 1914-2000: From Obscure Philippine Faith to Global Belief System,” Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde, Volume 157, Number 3, pages 561-608. (return to text)

7 For more information on the Muslim population of the Philippines, see Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, The Future of the Global Muslim Population: Projections for 2010-2030, 2011. (return to text)

Middle East-North Africa
(20 COUNTRIES AND TERRITORIES)

The Middle East-North Africa region is home to less than 1% of the world’s Christians.14 Only about 4% of the region’s residents are Christian. Although Christianity began in this region, it now has the lowest overall number of Christians and the smallest share of its population that is Christian. Christians are a minority in every country in the region. About half (47%) of all Christians in the region live in either Egypt or Sudan. Lebanon has by far the highest percentage of Christians (38%) in the region. The only other countries in the region where more than 10% of the population is Christian are the Gulf states of Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

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About 44% of Christians in the region are Catholic, including many Eastern-rite Catholics. Roughly the same proportion (43%) are Orthodox Christian. More than one-in-ten are Protestant (14%).

gc-spotlight-africaSpotlight on EgyptNo nation in the Middle East-North Africa region has a larger Christian community than Egypt. Though media reports sometimes suggest that Christians make up 10% or more of Egypt’s population of approximately 80 million people, census and survey data analyzed for this report indicate that Egypt’s Christian population is about half that size. The study finds that there are 4.3 million Christians in Egypt — more than in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Syria combined. Nine-in-ten Egyptian Christians are Orthodox Christian. Most Christians in Egypt belong to the Coptic Orthodox Church, which is an Oriental Orthodox church.1 (See Defining Christian Traditions.)

Census and demographic survey data suggest that the Christian share of Egypt’s total population has been declining.2 The highest share reported in the past century was in 1927, when the census found that 8.3% of Egyptians were Christian. In each of the eight subsequent censuses, the Christian share of the population gradually shrank.3 The most recent census, in 2006, found that about 5% of the population was Christian. The Pew Forum’s 2011 report on the global Muslim population estimated that approximately 95% of Egyptians were Muslim in 2010.4

Although Egypt’s Christian population is overwhelmingly Orthodox, other Christian denominations and movements have a significant presence in the country. For example, there are an estimated 140,000 Egyptian Catholics and more than 250,000 Egyptian Protestants. Evangelical, pentecostal and charismatic movements have influenced Protestantism in Egypt, leading, for example, to the formation of the Coptic Evangelical Organization for Social Services, founded by evangelical layman Samuel Habib in 1950 to promote community development.5

Footnotes:

1 “July-December, 2010 International Religious Freedom Report,” U.S. State Department. (return to text)

2 Of course, it is possible that Christians in Egypt have been undercounted in censuses and demographic surveys. According to the Pew Forum’s August 2011 report Rising Restrictions on Religion, Egypt has very high government restrictions on religion as well as very high social hostilities involving religion. These factors may lead some Christians, particularly converts from Islam, to be cautious about revealing their faith. Government records may also undercount Christians. According to news reports, for example, some Egyptian Christians have complained that they are listed on official identity cards as Muslims. For more information, see http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1770/ask-the-expert-pewresearch- center#christians-egypt. (return to text)

3 Data on fertility patterns in Egypt support census accounts of a declining Christian population share. For decades, Christian fertility in Egypt has been lower than Muslim fertility. See Youssef Courbage and Philippe Fargues (1997), Christians and Jews Under Islam, I.B. Tauris & Co. Translated by Judy Mabro, p. 200; see also Elana Ambrosetti and Nahid Kamal (2008), “The Relationship between Religion and Fertility: The Case of Bangladesh and Egypt.” Paper presented at the 2008 European Population Conference. (return to text)

4 Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, The Future of the Global Muslim Population: Projections for 2010-2030, 2011. (return to text)

5 Paul Rowe, “Building Coptic Civil Society: Christian Groups and the State in Mubarak’s Egypt,” Middle Eastern Studies, Volume 45, Issue 1, 2009, page 120. (return to text)

Footnotes:

8 To view all the countries and territories in the Americas, see the Interactive Maps. (return to text)

9 To see all the countries and territories in Europe, see the Interactive Maps. (return to text)

10 To see how Russia ranks globally on government restrictions on religion and social hostilities involving religion, see Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, Rising Restrictions on Religion, 2011. (return to text)

11 To see all the countries and territories in Sub-Saharan Africa, see the Interactive Maps. (return to text)

12 African Independent Churches are Christian churches in sub-Saharan Africa that developed and function outside the control of Western missions or churches. Some AICs (also called African Initiated, Indigenous or Instituted Churches) incorporate aspects of traditional African religions, including revelatory dreams and visions, healing practices and belief in a spirit world. For more information, see Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, Tolerance and Tension: Islam and Christianity in Sub-Saharan Africa, 2010. (return to text)

13 To see all of the countries and territories in Asia and the Pacific, see the Interactive Maps. (return to text)

14 To see all the countries and territories in the Middle East and North Africa, see the Interactive Maps. (return to text)

Christian Movements and Denominations

According to a Pew Forum analysis of estimates from the Center for the Study of Global Christianity (CSGC) at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, there are about 279 million pentecostal Christians and 305 million charismatic Christians in the world. (For definitions, see Defining Christian Movements.) This means that, according to this analysis, pentecostal and charismatic Christians together make up about 27% of all Christians and more than 8% of the world’s total population.15 (As noted in the Executive Summary, these estimates are based primarily on numbers provided by Christian organizations and are derived differently from the other figures in this study, which are based mainly on censuses and surveys; see Methodology for Estimating Christian Movements (PDF) for more details.)
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In addition, more than 285 million Christians are classified by the CSGC as evangelical, either because they belong to churches affiliated with regional or global evangelical associations or because they identify as evangelicals. Because many pentecostals and charismatics also are evangelicals, these categories are not mutually exclusive; the number of evangelicals should not be added to the number of pentecostal and charismatic Christians.

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The Pew Forum’s analysis of CSGC data estimates that about eight-in-ten of the world’s pentecostals reside either in sub-Saharan Africa (44%) or in the Americas (37%). According to this analysis, 15% of the total population in sub-Saharan Africa is pentecostal, as is 11% of the population in the Americas. Nearly one-in-six (16%) pentecostals live in Asia and the Pacific, although only about 1% of the total population of the region is pentecostal.

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Almost half (49%) of all charismatic Christians in the world live in the Americas, a region in which 16% of the population is charismatic. Nearly 30% of charismatics live in the Asia-Pacific region.

Sub-Saharan Africa has both the greatest concentration of evangelical Christians (13% of sub-Saharan Africa is evangelical) and the largest share of the world’s evangelicals (38%). About one-in-three evangelicals live in the Americas (33%) and roughly one-in-five reside in the Asia-Pacific region (21%).

The Center for the Study of Global Christianity collects membership data from Christian denominations around the world. Many churches in the Protestant category, as broadly defined in this report, can be considered independent, nondenominational or part of a denominational family that is very small or otherwise difficult to classify. However, Pew Forum analysis of data from the Center for the Study of Global Christianity indicates that the largest distinct denominational families are Anglican (about 11% of the broad Protestant category), Lutheran (about 10%), Baptist (9%) and Reformed/Presbyterian (7%).

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Defining Christian Movements
Pentecostals

Pentecostals are members of distinct Protestant denominations or independent churches that hold the teaching that all Christians should seek a post-conversion religious experience called the baptism of the Holy Spirit. These denominations and churches teach that those who experience the baptism of the Holy Spirit may receive one or more spiritual gifts, including the abilities to prophesy or utter messages from God, practice physical healing, speak in tongues or spiritual languages (glossolalia), and interpret tongues. Pentecostalism has roots in the 19th-century Holiness Movement, which promoted intense personal piety.1 It emerged as a distinct religious movement in the U.S. in the early 20th century.2 Pentecostal denominations include the Assemblies of God and the Church of God in Christ.3

Charismatics

Charismatics are members of non-pentecostal denominations — including Catholic, Orthodox and some Protestant denominations — who hold at least some pentecostal beliefs and engage in at least some spiritual practices associated with pentecostalism, including divine healing, prophecy and speaking in tongues. The charismatic movement, sometimes known as the charismatic renewal, began among mainline Protestants in the U.S. in 1960 and had spread to parts of the U.S. Catholic Church by 1967.4 The charismatic movement also finds expression in independent congregations that have formed their own networks of affiliated churches, similar to denominations.5 These church networks, such as the Vineyard Christian Fellowship based in California, are distinct from historically pentecostal denominations.6

Evangelicals

Evangelicals are Christians who (1) believe in the centrality of the conversion or “born again” experience in receiving salvation; (2) believe in the authority of the Bible as God’s revelation to humanity; and (3) have a strong commitment to evangelism or sharing the Christian message. Evangelicals constitute a trans-denominational movement; Christians who hold these beliefs or commitments may be found in numerous denominations and church traditions, such as Methodism and Presbyterianism; pentecostal denominations such as the Assemblies of God; and denominations that are expressly and historically evangelical, such as the Evangelical Free Church of America.7 The origins of modern evangelicalism are often traced to late 17th-century Lutheran Pietism in Germany and Methodism in England around the same time.8

Footnotes:

1 Randall Balmer, The Encyclopedia of Evangelicalism, Westminster John Knox Press, 2002, page 446. (return to text)

2 For background information, see Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, Spirit and Power: A 10-Country Survey of Pentecostals, 2006. (return to text)

3 Randall Balmer, The Encyclopedia of Evangelicalism, Westminster John Knox Press, 2002, page 446. (return to text)

4 Allan Anderson, An Introduction to Pentecostalism: Global Charismatic Christianity, Cambridge University Press, 2004, pages 144-151. (return to text)

5 Allan Anderson, An Introduction to Pentecostalism: Global Charismatic Christianity, Cambridge University Press, 2004, pages 144-151. (return to text)

6 Randall Balmer, The Encyclopedia of Evangelicalism, Westminster John Knox Press, 2002, pages 122-124; Allan Anderson, An Introduction to Pentecostalism: Global Charismatic Christianity, Cambridge University Press, 2004, pages 144-151. (return to text)

7 Randall Balmer, The Encyclopedia of Evangelicalism, Westminster John Knox Press, 2002, pages 196-197. (return to text)

8 “Evangelicalism,” in New Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 5, Gale, 2002, page 472. (return to text)

Footnotes:

15 The Center for the Study of Global Christianity (CSGC) has a slightly larger estimate of the total 2010 Christian population (2.27 billion) than the Pew Forum does (2.18 billion). Therefore, the combined pentecostal and charismatic population of 584 million equals a smaller share of the CSGC’s Christian universe (25.7%). (return to text)

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  • 本文由 发表于 2020年3月1日10:39:20
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