Is Islam Really the Second-Fastest Growing Religion?

Pajamas Media:

It’s a stated fact everywhere from the media to academia to churches: Islam is the second-fastest growing religion. It will become the biggest religion during this century. Christianity is going out of style and Islam is the new kid on the block. We hear it from those wanting to give the Muslim community a bigger voice; from those complaining about Western ignorance; from those trying to put Islam on the same plane as Christianity and Judaism; and even in churches decrying the lack of evangelical fervor among the congregation.

But is it really true?

It’s true that Islam (as well as atheism and universalism) is growing in the West, mostly because of high birth rates among Muslims and immigration, but the exploding growth of evangelical Christianity around the world through conversion is unreported. The analysis is distorted because of the lack of reporting from places like Africa, where nearly half of the population is estimated to be Christian. In other places like China, news of such trends is suppressed, leaving few to know that some estimates put the Christian population there at up to 111 million. There may be more members in the underground evangelical movement there than in the 75-million strong Chinese Communist Party. It’s been reported that 10,000 Chinese convert to Christianity per day. That number may be a stretch, but if current trends hold, predictions that China will become the country with the largest number of Christians by the middle of the century could come true.

The image in one’s mind of a Christian is usually of an American or European. The decline of Christianity in the West gives the impression that the religion is collapsing when it is really transforming. In Dinesh D’Souza’s What’s So Great About Christianity, he writes that in 1900, over 80 percent of Christians lived in Europe and the U.S. Now, two out of three evangelicals live in Asia, Africa, and South America. South Korea now holds the title as the second-place country in sending out missionaries, despite the fact that the number one country, the U.S., has over six times as many people.

Another fact to consider is that while the number of Christians overall is declining in the West, the number of evangelicals is rising. There are less of those “Sunday Christians” who do the church routine and don’t make having a relationship with God part of their very being. They are falling away from church as it becomes more socially acceptable to do so and are turning to agnosticism, atheism, and a universalism that believes all religions are one and the same. Christianity is changing into a smaller but more devout and active force.

It is much harder to detect “Friday Muslims” in the Islamic world than it is “Sunday Christians” in the West because of the societal repercussions and the suppression of other religions. Those questioning their faith are likely to keep it private and still go to mosque even if they party on the weekends. The dismal state of the Islamic world economically and politically and the savagery of extremism is turning many Muslims away. For example, I’ve been surprised at how many Iranians I’ve communicated with are atheists or aren’t devout Muslims. There is a clandestine movement to acquire Bibles and practice Christianity in private homes, as up to 1 million are said to have turned to Christianity in the past five years.

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6 Responses to “Is Islam Really the Second-Fastest Growing Religion?”

  1. Jim Says:

    It would be a fascinating exercise to separate notional/social/co-erced church/mosque attenders from the much smaller group who really sincerely believe in the Deity they worship.
    Has anyone tried?
    I’m sure for instance that the published numbers of Catholics in the UK bears no relation to those who actually practice. It seems reasonable to assume this applies to other branches of Christianity and other religions as well. I know quite a few Muslims who are very much that in name only.

  2. Annie Says:

    Quite agree Jim. Similarly most people who put C of E on their census returns are Anglican or Christians in name only. They haven’t a clue about Church doctrine, the 39 articles or even the most basic stories from the Bible. It’s a sort of British, largley white, cultural thing. One of my in-laws is a Hindu by birth. Most of what he follows is a sort of family tradition rather than any real understanding or devotion to the teachings and tenets of Hinduism.

  3. Sophie Says:

    There was a small piece over the weekend (in either Times or the Observer) saying that in second and subsequent generation immigrants have fewer children until they match the local birth rate. This makes sense; it ties up with other observations on similar topics. Worldwide, the birth rate changes in inverse proportion to women’s education and income.

    The author approves of evangelicals. He writes:

    “There are less of those “Sunday Christians” who do the church routine and don’t make having a relationship with God part of their very being. They are falling away from church as it becomes more socially acceptable to do so and are turning to agnosticism, atheism, and a universalism that believes all religions are one and the same. Christianity is changing into a smaller but more devout and active force.”

    Quite apart from being narked when people use ‘less’ when they mean ‘fewer’, I can’t go along with this.

    What the world needs now is more ecumenism and interfaith dialogue, more of what he calls “Sunday Christians” and I would call peaceful moderates, not an ever-growing band of delusional born agains chuntering on about Biblical inerrancy.

    As the guy recently sacked from the American theology college for straying from Creationism said, if Christianity continues on this path it will become a cult. IMO, US dominionism presents a global threat.

    However I do agree with some of what he says. One reason I find Islam so unappealing is its bunny-boiler attitude to anyone leaving the faith. Apostasy warrants a death sentence in many places even today and social exclusion pretty much anywhere. Undoubtedly there must be many millions who claim to be Muslims who do so solely in self-defence.

    The same is true on a smaller scale for Catholics. Catholicism is so wrapped up in culture – leaving the church openly often causes such family distress that people stay Catholics in name only. However the birth rate for Catholics in this country is indistinguishable from the national pattern which proves they’re ignoring that teaching, at least.

  4. Sophie Says:

    Sorry, I should have said “US dominionism presents a potential global threat.” While Obama’s president we’re OK, but should Sarah Palin and her ilk get in we may not be. Their attitude to the environment alone is alarming.

    Her statement on endangered species: “I always remind people from outside our state that there’s plenty of room for all Alaska’s animals — right next to the mashed potatoes”

    Add to this their apocalyptic End Times theological viewpoint and give them control of nuclear weapons… Makes me shudder.

  5. ruby Says:

    Islam is a monotheistic religion, civilization and way of life now practiced by 1.5 billion people. Easily the world’s fastest growing religion, Islam is not confined to the Middle East. It is a truly universal force. More Muslims live in America today than all the Presbyterians and Episcopalians put together. There are more than 1,200 mosques in the United States and 1000 mosques in England, where the Muslim community has established its own national parliament. There are more Muslims in Indonesia than in Egypt, Iran and Iraq. More live in Malaysia than in Jordan, Lebanon and Kuwait combined. Nearly 20 million Muslims live in China….it is growing, but if it was soo wrong then why? well…it’s the fastest growing religion in the world….100′s of 1000′s of people convert every day….they must be doing something right if its growing so quick…and any way – “you know your doing the right thing when you have enemies”

  6. Jim Says:

    Not sure what your point is Ruby?

    Your argument that ‘they must be doing something right if it’s growing so quick’ is meaningless. More and more people are becoming clinically obese through over-eating. Does that make their actions right?

    Again, having enemies does not automatically mean you are doing the right thing. Take your pick of the nastiest regimes in history. They all had many enemies. That did not make them right!

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