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By Richard Bruce BA, MA, and PhC in Economics

Religious Statistics Links
How Many Believe What

Here are some key sites for religious statistics. But to paraphrase Mark Twain, there are lies, there are shameless lies, and then there are statistics. Religious statistics are perhaps particularly fuzzy, but for what they are worth here they are.

The trusted source for religious statistics is The Pew Research Center. Here is a link to the Pew-Templeton Global Religious Futures Project. Here is a link to their study of religion in the U.S. Religion in America: Religious Landscape Study. From Pew you can not only find out what percentage of the population of the world, or a specific country belongs to various religions, but also religious opinions on various topics. Lots of up to date information on religious membership worldwide. This web site has country by country information, religions of famous people, and much more. This used to be the most popular web site on the Internet.

If you are looking for religious statistics on an individual country you can use the CIA's figures. Once you are on their web site you have to look up the country and then go to the population link. Just below the population link you will see a religion link, stay away from that, there are no statistics there. Instead it simply links you to a set of web pages that explain what Christianity, Islam and other religions believe.

Clicking on the population link may lead you to a web page that gives the population of the country first, then the age structure. This is the page you want. Scroll down until you find religion between ethnic groups and languages. It is close to the last thing on the web page.

For many countries the population link leads to page without statistics. At the top of the page you will see a link that says current population, click on it. That will take you to a page just like what I described in the previous paragraph.

Ok, now that you have the instructions, here is a link to the CIA factbook.

Wikipedia has statistics on the growth of religion in the United States. You have to scroll down a bit to find them. Wikipedia also has religious statistics on other countries that you can find by typing demographics and the countries name into the search box.

Public Opinion Polls on Religion

In addition to the public opinion polls available from Pew here is an interesting collection of public opinion polls on religion from polling report. This is an interesting site.

In addition to the sites mentioned above I have several web pages on religious statistics. These used to be among the most popular sites on the topic according to Google. I organized the information in a different way that apparently people liked. In some ways Pew seems to have adopted my categories. At any rate here they are.

My brief summary of World Religious Membership Statistics

My brief summary of World Christian Church Membership Statistics

In both of the above I give figures for religions, for example, Christianity, and churchs, for example the Catholic Church, but I give group statistics, for example monotheists vs. reincarnationists.

What if anything do numbers mean to the search for God and the one true faith, or church?

Islam is the most rapidly growing major faith, but what of the future. I promise you at least a few original thoughts on Muslim population growth.

The just mentioned web page deals with Islam and the world, but many people are wondering, is Europe going Muslim.. So I just added another web page on that.

Christianity by contrast has remained a steady one third of the world's population over the last century. Here is a page on the future Christian population.

Atheism has declined rapidly in the last few decades. But what are the future prospects for atheists, agnostics, and other non-believers.

As Communism weakens religion is getting stronger in the Third World, but the portion of the population that is religious in the First World is declining. While the portion of the world's population in the First and Third world has remained relatively steady in recent decades the rapid economic growth of many Third World countries may soon greatly increase the portion of the world's population living in the First World. How will this change the balance between religion and secularism.

Using Freedom House Ratings for Freedom and Democracy this page looks at the relationship between various religions vs. freedom and democracy.

Gallop Polls reveal something interesting educated people practice their faith more faithfully.

Related web pages

A list of Catholic literary converts.

Some people have speculated on how many people, if any are in Hell. One preacher in the early 1940s said 37,000 souls were going to hell every minute, those must have been sinful times as the total number of deaths of people over the age of 7 was probably not a whole lot more than 37 every minute. Father Richard Neuhaus, the publisher of First Things is more hopeful, he claims we can hope hell is empty. Several voices from the New Oxford Review think that is unrealistic and dangerous thinking. I wrote an essay, "The Sense and Census of Hell" making a number of points for both sides of the debate. I know the hottest places in hell are reserved for people like me who sit on the fence.

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Last edited March 11, 2013

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