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Which will be the dominant religion in the future?

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Some estimates of numbers and growth rate of Christians:

Source Year Number or Percentage of world's population Growth Rate/year
Readers Digest 1 1985 1.0 billion -
Al-Islam 2 1994 to 1995 - 1.46%
U.S. Center for World Mission 3 From 1970 to 1996 From 33.7% to 33.9% 2.3%
John Gary 4 2025 3 billion -
UK Christian Handbook 9 From 2000 to 2010 From 27.7% to 27.1% -
Barrett & Johnson 5 From 2000 to 2025 From 2.015 to 2.711 billion -
Todd Johnson 6 From 2000 to 2025 From 2.090 to 3.023 billion; 33.4% to 35.5% -
Todd Johnson 6 2200! 4.40 billion -
World Christian Encyclopedia 2000 2.0 billion; 37.9% -
Samuel Huntington 2025 25% -


bulletAl-Islam quotes an unspecified UN source.
bulletFuturist John Gary quoted unnamed religious researchers.
bulletThe growth rate of Christianity, according to the U.S. Center for World Mission, is very close to the growth rate of the world's population. The percentage of Christians in the world has remained almost constant for decades.

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Some estimates of numbers and growth rate of Muslims:

Source Year Number or Percentage of World's Population Growth Rate
Readers Digest 1 1985 700 million -
Al-Islam 2 1994 to 1995 - 6.4%
U.S. Center for World Mission 3 From 1970 to 1996 - 2.9%
John Gary 4 2025 2 billion -
Barrett & Johnson 5 2000 to 2025 1.22 to 1.89 billion -
Todd Johnson 6 From 2000 to 2025 From 1.16 to 1.72 billion; From 18.5% to 20.2%  
Todd Johnson 6 2200! 2.62 billion; 22.6%  
Samuel Huntington 2025 30%  


bulletAl-Islam quotes an unspecified UN source.
bulletThe growth rate of Islam, according to the U.S. Center for World Mission, at 2.9% is higher than the 2.6% growth rate of the world's population. Thus, the percentage of Muslims in the world is growing on the order of 0.6% per year.
bulletFuturist John Gary stated in 1997 that Islam is the fastest-growing of the major world religions. This is driven by the higher birth rates in the third world.
bulletBarrett & Johnson's estimated in an article in the International Bulletin of Missionary Research that the number of Muslims would grow from 1.22 billion in the year 2000 to 1.89 billion by 2025.
bulletAuthor Samuel Huntington predicts that "Muslims in the world will continue to increase dramatically, amounting to 20 percent of the world's population about the turn of the [21st] century, surpassing the number of Christians some years later..."

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There is no agreement about future trends in Christianity and Islam:

bulletAuthor Samuel Huntington predicts that Islam will overtake Christianity early in the 21st century. By the year 2025, Islam will have 5% more adherents than will Christianity.
bulletThe U.S. Center for World Mission estimated in 1997 that Christianity's total number of adherents is growing at about 2.3% annually. This is approximately equal to the growth rate of the world's population. Islam is growing faster: about 2.9% and is thus increasing its market share. At this rate, Islam would surpass Christianity as the world's main religion by 2023 CE.
bulletMost Christian sources predict that Christianity will retain its numerical lead over Islam beyond the year 2025. For example, futurist John Gary stated in 1997: "In no probable statistical scenario reaching out to the year 2200, does Islam surpass Christianity in absolute number of adherents."

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Sources of additional information:

bulletEssays on this web site:
bulletComparison of Christianity and Islam
bulletReligions of the world
bulletReligious calendars
bulletRecent trends in Christianity
bulletTrends among Protestant denominations
bulletAbout Religion Watch magazine
bulletPredictions about the future
bulletL.E. Browne, "The Religion of the World in AD 3000." International Review of Missions 38/104 (1949), Pages 463 to 468.
bulletAlex Heard, "Apocalypse Pretty Soon: Travels in End-Time America," Main Street Books, (2000). Review/order this book safely, from Amazon.com online bookstore.
bulletHans Küng, "Theology for the Third Millennium: An Ecumenical View." Doubleday, 1988. Out of print, but a used copy is generally available.
bulletSandra Schneiders, "With Oil in Their Lamps : Faith, Feminism, and the Future : 2000 Madeleva Lecture in Spirituality," Paulist Press, (2000). Review/order this book
bulletRodney Stark, et al., "The Future of Religion: Secularization, Revival and Cult Formation. University of California Press, 1985. Review/order this book
bulletH.H. Ward, "Religion 2101 A.D.," Doubleday, 1975. Out of print, but a used copy is generally available
bulletW. van Dusen Wishard, "Between Two Ages : The 21st Century and the Crisis of Meaning," Xlibris Corp., (2000). Review/order this book
bulletWeb Sites:
bulletWorld Network of Religious Futurists at: http://www.wnrf.org/

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References used:

  1. Quoted in "The World's Major Religions Changes," IslamicWeb, at: http://www.islamicweb.com/
  2. "World Muslim Population," Al_Islam, at: http://www.alislam.or.id/informasi/
  3. Greg H. Parsons, Executive Director, "U.S. Center for World Mission," Pasadena, CA; quoted in Zondervan News Service, 1997-FEB-21.
  4. Jay Gary, "Ten Global Trends in Religion," World Network of Religious Futurists, at: http://www.wnrf.org/articles/gtrends.htm
  5. David B. Barrett & Todd M. Johnson, "Annual Statistical Table on Global Mission" International Bulletin of Missionary Research, 1999-JAN, Pages 24 & 25.
  6. Todd Johnson, "Religious Projections for the Next 200 Years," World Network of Religious Futurists, at: http://www.wnrf.org/articles/next200.htm
  7. David Barrett et al, "World Christian Encyclopedia: A comparative survey of churches and religions - AD 30 to 2200," Oxford University Press, (2001). The ultimate reference book on world religions. A two volume monumental set, it contains 1699 pages with information about religion in the 238 countries of the world. Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store
  8. Samuel Huntington, "The Clash of Civilizations and the remaking of world order," Touchstone Books, (1998), Pages 65 to 66.This is a controversial book which argues that world divisions in the future will be based on culture, ethnicity and religion.  Read reviews or order this book.
  9. Quoted in Religion Today's Current News Summary for 1999-OCT-19.

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Site navigation: Home page > Religious info. > Basic info. > here

 Home page > Christianity > Christian & other religions > here

or Home page > World religions > Islam > here

or Home page > Comparison of religions >here

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Copyright © 2001 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2001-NOV-6
Latest update: 2001-NOV-6
Author: B.A. Robinson

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