Are we losing our religion? The answer for the UK seems to be “Yes”, while the answer for the developing world is a resounding “No”.
That was the conclusion of a recent analysis by the Pew Research Center in the US.
It suggests that in the UK, if current trends continue, the proportion of the population identifying themselves as Christians will fall from 64% in 2010 to 45% by 2050, while the proportion of Muslims will rise from 5% to 11%.
The proportion of the population claiming no religion in the UK – the “unaffiliated” – will also rise significantly, from 28% to 39%.
Pew’s research also suggests there are likely to be more Muslims than Christians in the world by 2070, with Islam’s share of global population equalling that of Christianity at just above 30% each by 2050.
Equally eye-catching is its conclusion that by 2050, under half of the population will be Christian not just in the UK, but also France, the Netherlands, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Australia and New Zealand, while Muslims will make up about 10% of Europe’s population, up from 6% now, thanks to higher birth rates.
However, Christianity globally will continue to grow, with the number of Christians projected to rise significantly in sub-Saharan Africa in particular.
According to demographer Conrad Hackett at Pew, in 1910 some 66% of the world’s Christians lived in Europe. Now that has fallen to about 25%.
By 2050, however, Europe will be home to just 16% of the world’s Christians, while four out of every 10 Christians globally will live in sub-Saharan Africa, thanks to high birth rates and falling infant mortality.