The number of religious people worldwide is increasing faster than the number of atheists, new research found.
Lifeway Research has identified “7 Encouraging Trends of Global Christianity in 2022” based on data collected by the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.
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The population of “religionists,” those who subscribe to a particular religion, grew at a rate of 1.3 percent between 2000 and 2022. By contrast, the number of atheists grew only at a rate of 0.18 percent in the same period. Although the number of atheists in the world has increased from approximately 141.5 million in 2000 to about 147 million now, the total remains below the record high of 165,156,000 measured in 1970.
Another trend touched upon by Lifeway is the growth of Christianity in particular and the data is both good and bad. The number of Christians worldwide increased 1.17 percent from 2000 to 2022. In that same period, the world population grew by 1.6 billion people or about 25 percent.
The Christian group that experienced the fastest growth rate was Pentecostals/charismatics who saw their numbers rise by 1.9 percent. Coming in a close second are evangelicals at 1.8 percent.
The increase in the number of Pentecostals worldwide is expected to continue at a rapid pace. Although fewer than one million people across the globe identified as Pentecostal in 1900, that number is expected to top one billion in 2050. By 2050, Pentecostals could account for roughly one-third of the 3.33 billion Christians. Pentecostals are the second-largest group of Christians in 2022, with Catholics taking the top spot.
Christianity is growing the fastest in the global south, consisting of Africa, Asia, Latin America and Oceania. The share of Christians in Africa soared by a rate of 2.3 percent in the past 22 years. Asia, Latin America and Oceania also saw rapid growth rates in the number of Christians measured at 1.5 percent, 1 percent and 0.73 percent, respectively.
Christianity has become less concentrated in Christian-majority countries. In other words, although there are more Christians worldwide, these Christians are spread out among more countries.
The percentage of Christians who live in a country where Christianity is the majority religion decreased from 59 percent in 2000 to 53.7 percent in 2022. By 2050, the study estimates that half of Christians will live in a country where Christianity is not the dominant religion.
–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice