Quantcast


Twitter icon


Facebook icon

About this site
About us
Our beliefs
Your first visit?
Contact us
External links
Good books
Visitors' essays
Our forum
New essays
Other features
Buy a CD
Vital notes

World religions
BUDDHISM
CHRISTIANITY
 Christian def'n
 Shared beliefs
 Handling change
 Bible topics
 Bible inerrancy
 Bible harmony
 Interpret Bible
 Persons
 Beliefs & creeds
 Da Vinci code
 Revelation 666
 Denominations
HINDUISM
ISLAM
JUDAISM
WICCA / WITCHCRAFT
Other religions
Cults and NRMs
Comparing Religions

Non-theistic...
Atheism
Agnosticism
Humanism
Other

About all religions
Main topics
Basic information
Gods & Goddesses
Handling change
Doubt & security
Quotes
Movies
Confusing terms
Glossary
End of the World?
True religion?
Seasonal events
Science vs Religion
More information

Spiritual/ethics
Spirituality
Morality & ethics
Absolute truth

Peace/conflict
Attaining peace
Religious tolerance
Religious freedom
Religious hatred
Religious conflict
Religious violence

"Hot" topics
Very hot topics
10 commandments
Abortion access
Assisted suicide
Cloning
Death penalty
Environment

Same-sex marriage

Homosexuality
Human rights
Gays in the military
Nudism
Origins
Sex & gender
Sin
Spanking kids
Stem cells
Transexuality
Women-rights
Other topics

Laws and news
Religious laws
Religious news

Sponsored links

 

 

 

!!!!!!!! Search error!  If the URL ends something like .htm/  or .htm# delete the character(s) after .htm and hit return.

World Map

Religions of the world

Numbers of adherents of major religions, their
geographical distribution, date founded, and
sacred texts

Sponsored link.


Number of adherents of world religions:

According to David Barrett et al, editors of the "World Christian Encyclopedia: A comparative survey of churches and religions - AD 30 to 2200," there are 19 major world religions which are subdivided into a total of 270 large religious groups, and many smaller ones. 34,000 separate Christian groups have been identified in the world. "Over half of them are independent churches that are not interested in linking with the big denominations." 1

Most people in the world follow one of the religions listed in the table below. Included is the name of the religion, the approximate date of its origin, its main sacred or ethical texts (if any) and its estimated numerical strength (both in absolute numbers and as a percentage of the world's population.)

These data are often based on census or public opinion data.2Thus, a person is considered to be of a particular religion if they say that they are of that faith. Thus, about 75% of the adults in both the U.S. and Canada are Christians. Many individuals and religious groups have much more strict definitions for membership. For example, many conservative Christians believe that one has to be "born again" in order to be counted as a Christian. Using this definition, only about 35% of Americans would be counted as Christians. This difference in definitions between conservative Christians and the rest of the population causes much confusion.

Some of the approximately 1,000 Christian faith groups in the U.S. and Canada believe themselves to be the only true Christian denomination. Thus, depending on the definition used, the perceived percentage of Christians in the U.S. are between 0.1 and 75% of the total population.

Pie-chart

Image from the U.S. Center for World Mission

Geographical distribution of prevailing organized religions throughout the world:

Map showingthe predominant religion for each country    Index 3

This map shows the most popular organized religion in each country of the world. So, for example, The Netherlands is shown as steel blue (mixed Catholic and Protestant) even though the largest group in the country are NOTAs (None Of The Above; persons not affiliated with any organized religion). Similarly, the UK is shown as Protestant Christianity even though weekly church attendance is in the single digits.

horizontal rule

Basic information on various religions:

Religion Date Founded Sacred Texts Membership 4 % of World 5
Christianity 30 CE The Bible 2,039 million 32% (dropping)
Islam 622 CE Qur'an & Hadith 1,570 million 22% (growing)
Hinduism 1500 BCE with truly ancient roots Bhagavad-Gita, Upanishads, & Rig Veda 950 million 13% (stable)
No religion
(Note 1)

-

None 775 million 12% (dropping)
Chinese folk religion 270 BCE None 390 million 6%
Buddhism 523 BCE The Tripitaka (consisting of the Vinaya, the Sutras, and the Abhidharma) 350 - 1,600 million (2) 6% (stable?)
Tribal Religions, Shamanism, Animism Prehistory Oral tradition 232 million 4%
Atheists No date None 150 million 2%
New religions. Various Various 103 million 2%
Sikhism 1500 CE Guru Granth Sahib 23.8 million <1%
Judaism Note 3 Torah, Tanach, & Talmud 14.5 million <1%
Spiritism     12.6 million <1%
Baha'i Faith 1863 CE Alkitab Alaqdas 7.4 million <1%
Confucianism 520 BCE Lun Yu 6.3 million <1%
Jainism 570 BCE Siddhanta, Pakrit 4.3 million <1%
Zoroastrianism 600 to 6000 BCE Avesta 2.7 million <1%
Shinto 500 CE Kojiki, Nohon Shoki 2.7 million <1%
Taoism Note 4  550 BCE Tao-te-Ching 2.7 million <1%
Other Various Various 1.1 million <1%
Wicca Note 5 800 BCE, 1940 CE None 0.5 million? <1%

Notes:

  • Note 1: Persons with no formal, organized religion include Agnostics, Atheists, Deists, freethinkers, humanists,  secularists, etc. Their numbers are growing in Europe, North America, and other places. With the collapse of Communism in the USSR, the total numbers worldwide dropped precipitously and are now increasing.

  • Note 2: There is no consensus on the number of Buddhists in the worlds. More info.

  • Note 3: There is no consensus on the data of founding of Judaism. Some claim that Adam and Eve were the first Jews, and lived circa 4000 BCE; others suggest that they, and all biblical persons prior to King David are mythical; they never existed. Some would place the date at the time of Abraham, circa 1900 BCE. Some date it to the Exodus from Egypt circa 1490 BCE. Others say that no Exodus happened. On the basis of archeological evidence, many believe that the ancient Hebrews were originally a group of Canaanites who gradually separated from the main body and eventually developed a separate culture. That would certainly explain why so many Jewish holy days were derived from the Pagan Canaanite culture.

  • Note 4: Many, perhaps most, followers of Chinese folk religion follow a number of different religions/philosophies including Taoism. The number cited for Taoism is an estimate of the number of individuals who follow only Taoism.

  • Note 5: We have included Wicca even though their numbers are small because such a large percentage of our site's visitors are of that faith. There is no reliable measure of their numbers. Some Wiccans believe that their faith can be traced back to the origins of the Celtic people; other suggest it is a recently created religion and is based on ancient symbols, deities, seasonal celebration and other factors.

Sponsored link:

Related essays on this web site:

bullet Name of the place of worship and local leader, accuracy of membership data, and rate of change of membership

bulletDescriptions of dozens of religions and ethical systems

bulletThe religious makeup of each country in the world

References used in the above essay:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. David B. Barrett, et al., "World Christian Encyclopedia : A Comparative Survey of Churches and Religions in the Modern World," Oxford University Press, (2001). Read reviews or order this book
  2. J.W. Wright, Editor, "The Universal Almanac, 1996", Andrews & McMeel, Kansas City.
  3. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/
  4. Data from the World Almanac and Book of Facts, 2004, Page 612. Derived from the "Encyclopedia Britannica Book of the Year, 2003.
  5. Based on the UN projected world population of 6.301 billion  for mid-2003.

horizontal rule

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

Copyright © 1997 to 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2011-SEP-28
Author: B.A. Robinson

line.gif (538 bytes)
Sponsored link

 

Go to the previous page, or return to the "Basic religious information" menu, or choose:

Google
Web ReligiousTolerance.org

Go to home page  We would really appreciate your help

E-mail us about errors, etc.  Purchase a CD of this web site

FreeFind search, lists of new essays...  Having problems printing our essays?

Twitter link

Facebook icon

Google Page Translator:

This page translator works on Firefox,
Opera, Chrome, and Safari browsers only

After translating, click on the "show
original" button at the top of this
page to restore page to English.

 
Sponsored links: