Monday, February 28, 2011

Religion by the numbers

Mark Tooley, in The American Spectator, notes some reasonably encouraging statistics about the state of Christianity in the nation and in the world:
Most secular media in the U.S. imply that the world is largely dividing between resurgent Islam and enlightened secularists, with isolated evangelicals and Catholics left on the sideline. A recent report by the International Bulletin of Missionary Research indicates otherwise, with one third of the world professing Christianity, virtually unchanged as a global percentage since 100 years ago. Christians today are estimated to number about 2.3 billion. About 1.5 billion are estimated to attend church regularly at over 5 million congregations, up from 400,000 100 years ago.

There are 1.6 [billion] estimated Muslims, 951 million Hindus, and 468 million Buddhists. Atheists are thought to be 137 million, a declining number. The report estimates about 80,000 new Christians every day, 79,000 new Muslims every day, and 300 fewer atheists every day. ....

A Gallup poll in 2010 showed the percentage of Americans reporting to attend church regularly (at least monthly) was 43 percent. In 1937 it was 37 percent, was slightly lower in the early 1940s, reached 49 percent during the 1950s, and settled at 42 percent in 1969, where it has remained steady for the last 40 years. .... A Pew survey found that about 44 percent of Americans have switched religious affiliations since childhood. Mostly they are switching away from Mainline Protestantism. Forty-five years ago, about 30 million Americans belonged to the top 7 Mainline denominations, accounting for about one sixth of Americans. Today, it's about 20 million, accounting for about one fifteenth. .... [more]
The American Spectator : Thriving Christianity