A Quantitative Analysis (from chapter of my unpublished –
The Epidemicof Dying Christianity: EXAMINING THE RISE AND FALL OF CHRISTIANS)
“The kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast into the sea…” – Matthew 13:48
A century ago the majority of Europeans would have quickly identified themselves as Christians. In 1900, about two-thirds of the world’s Christians lived in Europe; yet, in 2015, they represented only about 25%. In 2010, a Eurobarometer opinion poll showed that 27% of the citizens of France and 37% of England’s did not ‘believe there is a God.’ The poll showed 49% of EU citizens did not believe in God; yet in a 2011 Eurostat Census, 48% checked on their census that they were ‘Catholic,’ and 72% labeled themselves as ‘Christian.’
Please understand, I know some very knowledgeable Catholics; nevertheless, I have spoken with myriads who when asked if they ‘are a Christian;’ the response was the same, ‘no, I am a Catholic.’ In 2015, I asked two brothers doing a student exchange from France about their religion. They stated they were ‘Catholic,’ but do not go to church. Research by the French Institute of Public Opinion (2011-12), stated only 2.9% of the population actually practices the Catholic faith, compared to 3.8% who practice the Muslim faith.
Also know most Protestants have no clue of either the origin or meaning of the term Protestant (protestantes – who bear witness/‘protest’ against the Diet of Speyer (1529) or acts of the ‘papist’). It seems the Lord’s word through the prophet Hosea pertains to every generation, ‘My people perish for lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6).’ Not because they don’t know the meaning of ‘Protestant,’ but because they ‘do not know God’ or ‘His only begotten Son (1 John 4:8-9).’
In 2015, Dalil Boubakeur, rector of the ‘Great Mosque of Paris’ and president of the French Council of Muslim Faith, who immigrated from Algeria, said on Europe 1 radio that the current ‘2,500 mosques and 300’ under construction fell well short of what was needed for Europe’s largest Muslim population – those in France. He added that as many as ‘5,000’ of the ‘country’s abandoned Catholic Churches’ could be converted into Mosques to meet the need.
Although the French Institute of Public Opinion found that only 41% of France’s 6 million Muslims actually ‘practice’ Islam, 75% responded that they were ‘believers.’ (2015, France: 66 million citizens, 6 million Muslims = 9.1% x 41% = 3.7% of the French practicing) This self-identification on censuses and surveys is very common. And it is for this reason that number of adherents (followers or believers) of denominations and religions and cults should not be taken simply at their face value; other factors must be examined.
In 2011, Mohammed Moussaoui, President of the Muslim Council of France, estimated that 150 new mosques were under construction; whereas in the last decade only 20 new Catholic Churches were built. The future of Europe’s Member States and how to address their diversified cultures is a significant issue to the leaders of the EU. This will be touched on in a later chapter, looking at such things as the RELIGARE project created to study religion and secularism in Europe.
Though France is an illustration of radical change in Christianity over a century, significant proof is available to show that a decline in Christianity is a global epidemic and not just isolated to certain regions of the world. The focus of the following data is not to examine the various world religions, but rather to show important trends and facts.
Kenneth Latourette, in his A History of Christianity, Volume II (2005), wrote, “Between A.D. 500 and A.D. 950 Christianity suffered the greatest losses which it has ever encountered. Its very existence was threatened… The invasion of the Mediterranean world by non-Christians, notably by Islam-bearing Arabs, tore from Christianity approximately half the areas which had been gained in the preceding period. The morale of the Christian communities declined to their lowest ebb…
There followed, from A.D. 950 to 1350… the area across which Christianity was carried expanded. More significantly, striking developments occurred within the churches, the Christian faith produced outstanding personalities and important movements in thought and organization, and it helped to bring into being new cultures, notably in Western Europe.
Between A.D. 1350 and 1500 a decline was witnessed. Much territory was lost and disorganization and corruption appeared in the churches… The two and a half centuries between A.D. 1500 and 1750 constituted an amazing epoch. A series of awakenings revitalized and largely altered the era and Christianity had an important share in modifying the culture which emerged. To a less but still important extent changes were seen in some aspects of Eastern Christianity. Explorations, conquests, and intrepid missionaries carried Christianity over a larger proportion of the earth’s surface than had previously been true of it or of any other religion.
From A.D. 1750 to 1815 a series of events and movements again menaced Christianity. The decay of Spain and Portugal, strong champions of the faith… fresh intellectual movements, and a succession of wars and revolutions in Europe and America…’
‘…The century from A.D. 1815 to 1914 presented striking contrasts. Western civilization was again moving into a new age. Many of the forces which were molding that civilization were either openly or tacitly hostile to Christianity. The faith was threatened …but new life in Christianity swelled to a flood. This was (from) …Protestantism, which had come into being as recently as the sixteenth century. …Even more than between A.D. 1500 and 1750 Christianity spread over the surface of the globe. It was an integral feature of the new nations which were created by European peoples in the Americas and Australasia…
The period which had its inception in A.D. 1914 and is still incomplete constitutes the latest division of our story. In spite of colossal threats and striking losses, Christianity has moved forward. Never before at any one time have all cultures been so shaken…”
The last two decades display how striking the losses are, and moreover, that Christianity may be moving forward as a body, but the adherents to that body are decreasing at alarming rates. Not only are Christians not increasing proportionally to increases in world population, but Muslims and ‘non-religious’ are outpacing normal population growth.
The Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary began from the work of Anglican missionary Rev. Dr. David Barnett in 1957. It is recognized as ‘one of the world’s most definitive sources of empirical information on Christianity.’ Christian historian and author Mark Noll, in his 2014 work, From Every Tribe and Nation, stated that the CSGC ‘provide that wherewithal for outlining the dramatic changes that have recently occurred in the Christian world.’
June 2013, the CSGC published the study Christianity in its Global Context, 1970 – 2020. Its Executive Summary begins stating, ‘Christians around the world today find themselves in contexts that are very different from those of 40 years ago.’ It continues in its ‘Key findings’ reporting, “…In 1970, nearly 82% of the world’s population was religious. By 2010 this had grown to around 88%, with a projected increase to almost 90% by 2020.’ They reported in 1970, 33.2% of the world’s religious adherents claimed to be ‘Christians,’ and 2020 they project the same number; however, they show Muslims increasing from 15.6% in 1970 to 23.9% in 2020. They show Hindus and Buddhists slightly increasing. Oddly they show a decrease in the world’s Atheists and Agnostics which does not hold true for Europe and America, and likely will not hold true for the world.
The study stated, ‘The twentieth century experienced the great shift of Christianity to the global South… In 1970, 41.3% of all Christians were from Africa, Asia or Latin America. By 2020, this figure is expected to be 64.7%… Simultaneously, Christianity is declining as a percentage of the population in the global North at a dramatic rate. …Christianity is expected to grow as a proportion of Africa’s population, from 143 million in 1970 (38.7%), to 630 million by 2020 (49.3%). In Asia, Christianity is growing more than twice as fast as the general population… though it is still a minority religion there (only 8.2% in 2010). In Europe, Latin America, and Northern America Christianity is declining as a percentage of the population. …In Europe, individuals are increasingly leaving the faith, mainly to agnosticism and atheism… A new trend in Northern America is the rise of the unaffiliated (who would check “none of the above” on a survey about religion), both religious and non-religious…”
However, understand the Survey defines ‘Christians’ as ‘followers of Jesus Christ of all kinds… and confessions… enumerated …in government censuses or public opinion polls; and …where denominations report membership figures.’ So when they project 600 million Christians in Latin America and 126 million in Western Europe by 2020, they are not speaking of ‘practicing Christians’ who believe in the major doctrines of the faith; this number could be 10% of the projected number, or worst like the 4% ‘practicing’ Christians in France.
Worldwide, Christian adherents fell (percentage wise) from 1.23 billion and 33.2% of the population in 1970 to 2.26 billion and 32.8% in 2010. During that period Muslims increased from 577 million and 15.6% of the global population to 1.6 billion and 22.5% of the population.
The study explained that in 1970, ‘the ten countries with the largest Christian populations were home to 53.5% of all Christians… seven of those ten countries were in the global North.’ Those ten included the UK, Italy, France and Spain. It reported that in 2010, the ten countries with the most Christians were: United States, 248 million (80% of the country’s population); Brazil, 177 million (91%); Russia, 116 million (81%); Mexico, 108 million (96%); China, 106 million (8%); Philippines, 84 million (91%); Nigeria, 73 million (46%); DR Congo, 62 million (95%); Germany, 57 million (70%); and India, 57 million (4.7%).
Praise God for souls being redeemed, but are we to believe that over 90% of the people in four of these nations believe in salvation only through Jesus Christ? The literacy rate in some of these nations is not 90%. Nevertheless, in the following pages of this chapter, many statistics will be offered to show the proof of non-Christianity in the world.
Before continuing to examine the facts, the CSGC study did remind us of the fact that most of the countries that need missionaries have very few. North Korea has an estimated one Christian missionary for every 1.2 million non-Christians; likewise, ‘34% of all non-Christians… receives only 1.5% of all missionaries.’ That reminds me of David Livingstone telling his fellow missionaries, loosely, stay if you like in South Africa where British military posts are (and gold and diamonds), but as for me I will seek the lost who have never heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Study concluded saying, ‘Despite almost 40 years of emphasis on unreached people groups, many still have no church-planting work of any kind among them… the unevangelized …numbered 2 billion (29.6%) of all people in 2010.’
The Joshua Project, ‘a research initiative seeking to highlight the ethic people groups of the world with the fewest followers of Christ’ estimates that 42% of the world’s people groups have been unreached with the Gospel. This is over 3 billion of the 7.3 billion. Moreover, they estimate that 63% of the 10/40 Window has been unreached. The 10/40 Window refers to the portion of the world located between 10 and 40 degrees north of the equator, primarily in Africa and Asia where poverty and non-Christianity prevails.
WIN/Gallup International ‘is the leading association in market research and polling’ and ‘is made up of the 75 largest independent market research and polling firms in their respective countries… covering 95% of the world’s market.’ A 2012 poll by WIN/Gallup International surveyed over 50,000 people in 40 countries whether they considered themselves ‘religious’, ‘not religious’ or ‘convinced atheist’.
The 2012 poll found that ‘nearly 47% of people living in China describe themselves as atheists compared to an average of 13% across the world… One of the most surprising figures is in the Islamic country of Saudi Arabia where 5% of the population described themselves as atheists, despite this is considered a crime…’ The poll reported 31% of Japan’s population consider themselves ‘atheists,’ as did more than 30% French and Czech Republic citizens.
In a 2015 WIN/Gallop article called Losing our religion? Two thirds of people still claim to be religious, reported China with 61% atheists, Japan (31%), Czech Republic (30%), and Spain (20%). Their research states, 22% of the world’s people say explicitly that they are ‘not religious.’ The survey covered 65 countries, surveying about 64,000 people. The study found that ‘the most religious regions are Africa and MENA (Middle East and N. Africa) where 86% and 82% of the people consider themselves to be religious.’ However, remember it is a crime not to be Muslim in many Islamic nations. Moreover, the presence of religion does not indicate Christianity.
The 2015 study also stated, ‘Western Europe (51%) and Oceania (49%) are the only regions where approximately half of the population is either not religious or convinced atheists.’ Throughout this work will be facts addressing the ‘non religious’ or not affiliated and non-practicing.
A better indicator of the non-Christian and even proof of those ‘practicing’ their religion can be seen in a WIN-GALLOP with Global Barometer Study. In 2012 they released Global Index of Religiosity and Atheism. They found 36% of the people surveyed across the world considered themselves ‘Not a religious person’ or ‘a convinced atheist.’
Yet, these do not include those who did not respond or ‘don’t know,’ which in itself says something. Nor did the study examine practices of those surveyed. Thus, to say 31% of the Japanese call themselves atheist, falls well short of saying 85% of the people in Japan are atheist, non-religious, don’t know their religious condition or would not response when surveyed. Moreover, of the 15% that call themselves religious; a very small percent are practicing Christians.
Additionally, when the Global Study says that Austria, Czech Republic, Iceland and Ireland are among the top ten Atheist populations by percentage tells of trends in those countries, but says little to what that means on a global scale; together the four nations only makeup .33 of 1% of the world’s population.
Other problems are the difficulty of getting current statistics. So the World Factbook put out by the CIA may say 2011 on the cover, but notes under India (2001). According to India’s Ministry of Statistics in 2001 they had 1.028 billion people of which 828 million Hindu; 429 million males and 399 million females. They also had at that time 138 million Muslims, 71.4 million males and 66.8 million females; and 24.1 million Christians, 12 million males and 12.1 million females; and 19.2 million Sikh. Therefore, if the 2011 official census is not available, numbers could be a decade old. And estimates will be off. For example, the 2011 India Census show a 24% increase in Muslims from the previous 2001 census. Additionally, through the number of non-religious people in India rose by 6% from 2005 to 2012, it is hard to guess the nature of their Hindu population, which has been reported to be vastly secular, agnostic and/or non-practicing. The Population Reference Bureau (PRB) had India at about 1,300 million people June 2015.
The following Table, Percent of Non-Christians in >91% of the World’s Population, seeks to identify the percent of Non-Christians in the world. The Non-religious column may have a % (percentage) greater, even much greater, than simply adding the percentage of the ‘professed’ religious people and subtracting it from 100. For example, those in China who stated they were Buddhist, Christian and Muslim in their census and surveys totaled about 25%, but in the WIN-Gallop Global Index of Religiosity and Atheism Poll only 14% identified themselves as ‘a religious person.’
In the last few years WIN/Gallup International stated China was 86% non-religious. However, a more recent survey by Gallup International and the WI Network of Market Research, based on 64,000 interviews, found ‘although China’s society has deep religious traditions, decades of Communist rule have installed a widespread atheistic materialism’ which has resulted about 90% of all Chinese considering themselves to be atheists or non-religious. About 80% of the Chinese do not live in a city; and it is hard to estimate home churches.
The 2010 census, the CIA World Factbook and Pew Research Center studies, shows the United States has about 73% ‘professing’ Christians, including about 50% Protestants and 23% Catholics; yet, when asked 32% recently identified themselves as non-religious. Although Sweden and China rank significantly high in non-religious, even nations such as Israel are very secular. By certain studies, Israel has 50% to 65% of their citizens identified as non-religious or atheists. According to the U. S. Census Bureau International Data Base (IDB), the world population was 7.25 billion in mid-2015 or 7.3 by the PRB. Sources list the world Christian population at 33%; yet 23% is more accurate. About 5.6 billion or 77% of all people are non-Christians. Between 3.7 and 4.2 billion are non-religious in that they do not practice a religion at all, or do not attend a religious service once a month.
Percent of Non-Christians in > 91 % of World’s Population
(CIA: World Factbook; Pew Research; UN Statistics; US Census IDB; WIN-Gallop)
% Top Religions
|% Non-Religious*||% Non-
|China||B 18; C 5; M 1.8||1,365 M||89||95|
|India||H 80; M 14; C 2||1,300 M||Likely most||98|
|USA||C 73; M 1; Jew 2; B1||321 M||> 32||> 38|
|Indonesia||M 87; C 8; H 2||255 M||Likely most||92|
|Brazil||C 89 (64% Catholic)||210 M||Likely most||> 20|
|Pakistan||M 96; C 1; H 1||199 M||> 15||99|
|Nigeria||M 50; C 40||181 M||> 15||> 60|
|Bangladesh||M 88, H 9||169 M||> 15||99|
|Russia||C 40, M 10||142 M||Likely most||> 65|
|Japan||Shintoism55; B 40; C 1||127 M||> 85||99|
|Mexico||C 87 (80% Catholic)||122 M||Likely most||> 20|
|Philippines||C88 (81% Catholic); M 5||101 M||> 10||> 15|
|Ethiopia||C 60; M 32||99 M||> 10||> 40|
|Vietnam||B 16; C 7||94 M||> 70||93|
|Egypt||M 86; C 8||88 M||> 10||92|
|Germany||C 55 (1/2 Catholic) M3||81 M||> 70||> 45|
|Iran||M 99||81 M||> 15||> 99|
|Turkey||M 98||79 M||> 17||99|
|Congo||C 70 (50% Cath.); M10||79 M||Likely most||> 30|
|Thailand||B 93; M 5; C 1||68 M||> 25||99|
|France||C 40; M 7||66 M||> 80||> 70|
|United Kingdom||C 45; M 5; H 1||64 M||> 70||> 65|
|Italy||C 79 (most Catholic); M1||62 M||Likely most||> 30|
|Burma||B 80; C 5; M 4||56 M||Likely most||> 95|
|South Africa||C 79; M1||54 M||> 20||> 25|
|Tanzania||M 30; C 30||51 M||Likely most||> 75|
|South Korea||C 29; B 22||49 M||Most||> 75|
|Spain||C 70 (95% Catholic); M1||48 M||Likely most||> 35|
|Colombia||C 88 (90% Catholic)||47 M||> 25||> 20|
|Kenya||C 83, M 10||46 M||> 10||> 20|
|Ukraine||C 80, M 1||44 M||> 25||> 25|
|Argentina||C 76||43 M||> 70||> 25|
|Algeria||M 98||40 M||> 20||99|
|Sudan||M 70; C 5||39 M||> 40||95|
% Top Religions
|% Non-Religious*||% Non-
|Poland||C 90||38 M||> 20||> 20|
|Uganda||C 82; M 11||37 M||> 25||> 25|
|Iraq||M 99||36 M||> 20||> 99|
|Canada||C 64; M 3; H 1||35 M||Most||> 40|
|Morocco||M 98 C 1||33 M||> 20||99|
|Afghanistan||M 99||32 M||> 20||> 99|
|Peru||C 86||30 M||> 25||> 15|
|Malaysia||M 62; B 19; C 9; H 6||30 M||> 40||> 91|
|Nepal||H 80; B 10; M 4||30 M||> 20||> 99|
|Venezuela||C 86||29 M||> 30||> 20|
|Uzbekistan||M 93; C 6||29 M||> 20||95|
|Saudi Arabia||M 99||28 M||> 20||> 99|
|Yemen||M 99||27 M||> 20||> 99|
|Ghana||C 72; M 16||26 M||> 40||> 30|
|North Korea||(Juche); C1||25 M||> 75||> 99|
|Mozambique||C 55; M 18||25 M||> 30||> 50|
|Madagascar||C 50; M 10||24 M||> 65||> 55|
|Cameroon||C 50; M 21||24 M||> 65||> 55|
|Australia||C 55; B 2; M 2; H 2||23 M||> 55||> 50|
|Cote d’Ivoire||M 37; C 33||23 M||> 40||> 70|
|Romania||C 75; M 1||22 M||> 30||> 20|
|Sri Lanka||B 69; 8 H; 8 M; 6 C||22 M||> 15||> 94|
|Angola||C 60||20 M||Likely Most||> 40|
|Burkina Faso||M 62; C 22||19 M||> 30||> 80|
|Malawi||C 83; M 13||18 M||> 10||> 20|
|Niger||M 95; C 1||18 M||> 20||99|
|Kazakhstan||M 70; C 25||18 M||> 20||> 75|
|Syria||M 90; C 5||17 M||> 25||> 95|
|Chile||C 80||17 M||Likely Most||> 30|
|Netherlands||C 40; M 5||17 M||> 65||> 65|
|Ecuador||C 85||16 M||> 20||> 20|
|Guatemala||C 90||15 M||> 20||> 20|
|Greece||C 90; M 5||11 M||> 10||> 10|
|Czech Rep.||C 12||10.7 M||> 85||> 85|
C 23 M 24 H 14 B 6
6.7 of 7.3 B
45 to 60 %
|* % Non-religious: atheist, agnostics, non-religious; Global Index, surveys, country reports
Populations are in M = Millions; B – Buddhist, C – Christian, H – Hindu, M – Muslim
Non-Christian % estimated and adjusted by studies/surveys; World Christians adjusted.
In Indonesia, the world’s fourth largest nation by population, Lukman Saifuddin, Minister of Religion Affairs, explained to journalists at an Islamic Council meeting, that ‘atheism’ isn’t illegal; however spreading the teaching is. And certain reporters have displayed that the country has strict ‘anti-blasphemy laws’ which ‘force’ its people to ‘live a façade of faith, masquerading as Muslims when many spend hours a day mocking religion in private online forums.’ Thus, it is very difficult to accurately state their number of non-religious and non-practicing Muslims. Nevertheless, as the UN pushes nations towards the explicit rights of ‘freedom of thought,’ ‘freedom of religion,’ ‘freedom of gender,’ and anti-discrimination, the Nonreligious will certainly rise.
In IHEU’s (International Humanist and Ethical Union) article Freedom of Thought 2012, A Global Report on Discrimination Against Humanists, Atheists and the Nonreligious, they list data on numerous nations and summarize their ‘Discriminatory Laws,’ many of which state, the ‘constitution’ provides that ‘the country shall be a secular state.’ Concerning Indonesia they write:
Indonesia recognizes only six official religions–Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, Confucianism, Buddhism, and Hinduism–and requires its citizens to adhere to one of these. The country’s blasphemy law makes it illegal to promote other faiths, or atheism. Article 156(a) of the country’s criminal code also punishes “disseminating information aimed at inciting religious hatred or hostility” with up to five years in prison. Persons, who do not identify with one of the six official religions, including people with no religion, continue to experience official discrimination. This discrimination occurs often in the context of civil registration of marriages and births and other situation involving family law. Official ID cards must list one of the six official religions; therefore “atheism” or “Humanism” or “no religions” are not permitted options.
The IHEU article cites many cases in many countries where individuals were fined and or imprisoned for openly being atheists or non-religious. The article also includes the United Nations Human Rights Committee explanation of UN Article 18, ‘The right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion (which includes the freedom to hold beliefs) in article 18.1 is far-reaching and profound; it encompasses freedom of thought on all matters, personal conviction and the commitment to religion or belief, whether manifested individually or in community with others… Article 18 protects theistic, non-theistic and atheistic beliefs, as well as the right not to profess any religion or belief. The terms ‘belief’ and ‘religion’ are to be broadly construed. Article 18 is not limited in its application to traditional religions or to religions and beliefs with institutional characteristics or practices analogous to those of traditional religions.’
Brazil is the world’s fifth largest nation by population. According to a myriad of reports it is becoming rapidly ‘Secular.’ Silvia Fernandes at the Federal Rural University in Rio de Janeiro states, ‘we’re seeing that people no longer need to go to church for social reasons.’
According to a 2011 study by Brazil’s Getulio Vargas Foundation, ‘the country’s Catholics are leaving the church and at a higher rate than ever… the number of people under the age of 20 in Brazil who say they follow no religion is growing three times more quickly than those 50 and older, with 9% of young Brazilians saying they belong to no religion… Just 30 years ago the Catholic church was embraced by 90% of Brazilians, today (2011) that number is down to 67%.’ Three years after this report the Catholic percentage was already down to 64 percent. That is a drop of about 1/3 in a generation.
Pakistan has at least 3% and maybe greater than 10% atheist; yet, several have been arrested because it is against their law to be Atheists. It is likely a significant portion of the population is non-religious but it is not easily reported.
In 2001, Zamfara became the first Nigerian state to impose Islamic Sharia law. Since then Christianity has declined in and around that region. Additionally, in 2015, Muhammadu Buhari, a Muslim, was elected President of Nigeria. Also, many Nigerians are non-religious in private and believers in public due to fear or pressure. According to USCIRF, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, ‘’while the Nigerian federal government does not engage in religious persecution, it fails to implement effective strategies to prevent sectarian violence…’
Bangladesh has one of the world’s largest Muslim populations. During the 13th century, masses began converting to Islam in the Southeast Asian country. It is well noted that religious minorities in Bangladesh are among the most persecuted people. Because of this it is most difficult to state an accurate percentage of their nonreligious.
In the case of Russia, the nation is returning again to their Orthodox Christian ancestries. However, over 90% of their Orthodox churches belong to the government Russian Orthodox Church. Due to certain problems within the nation, Putin and the government is given both financial and verbal support to the Orthodox Church. It is difficult to tell how much secularism is still in the church. Yet according to a 2004 ICM poll only 7% attend church regularly. A 2014 Gallop poll showed that only a third considered ‘religion important in daily life.’ In 2014, there were 23 known cases of fines for holding public religious activities without prior state permission.
According to The Factbook Shinto is Japan’s largest religion. However, the Japanese typically consider Shintoism a ritual rather than a religion. And for this reason, most that are Shinto or Buddhist. In 1999, about 83% of Japanese said that they followed Shinto (‘way of the gods’), and 76% Buddhism. By 2012, according to the World Factbook, they had about 12% less Buddhist. Yet, according to their Agency for Cultural Affairs, in 2015, only 54% follow Shintoism and 40% Buddhism, which indicates a significant trend to becoming a secular non-religious nation.
In a 2015 WIN (Worldwide Independent Network of Market Research) Gallop article, Losing our religion? The study showed that Japan is among the ‘least religious’ nations and has current approximately 31% of its population identifying themselves as ‘atheists.’ WIN/Gallop’s Global Index of Religiosity and Atheism (2012) showed that 84% of the Japanese surveyed considered themselves ‘atheist (31%)’ or ‘not a religious person (31%)’ or did not ‘know’ or ‘response.’
In 1970, according to Mexico’s census and reports by The Economist, about 96% of the population was Roman Catholic. In 2007, about 93% of all Mexicans identified themselves as Catholics. Yet, a November 2014 article by the Pew Research Center, Religion in Latin America, found that there is a ‘shifting religious identity in Latin America.’ They stated, ‘Latin America is home to more than 425 million Catholics – nearly 40% of the world’s total Catholic population… yet identification with Catholicism has declined.’ The study shows that of 84% of the adult population that was raised Catholic, only 69% still identify themselves as Catholic. UN Data stats showed about 7.5% of Mexico’s 2010 Census population checking ‘no religion’ or ‘not specified.’
In 2013, The Christian Science Monitor published an article entitled Is there a God? The Vatican invites Mexicans to discuss. The report stated that “the number of Mexicans who say they are ‘nonreligious’ jumped by 56 percent between 2000 and 2010.” The article reports, ‘The Mexican government divorced itself from the Catholic Church in 1862 by banning its participation in political life and establishing secular public education… (and) a 1992 law loosened some restrictions on religious institutions…’
A 2009 Gallup Poll asked individuals from 143 countries ‘Is religion important in your daily life?’ In Mexico, 25.5 % said ‘no, (it is) unimportant.’ In 2011, Crisis Magazine reported, in their article, Number of Catholics in Mexico declining, that ‘more than 1,000 Mexicans left the Catholic Church every day over the last decade.’ Moreover, it is estimated that only about 10 to 15 of Mexicans Catholics attend church regularly.
Although the Philippines show a very high percentage of Christians, according to ABS-CBN News, several Social Weather Station surveys show that ‘weekly church attendance among Catholic adults in the Philippines has been declining, from 64% in July 1991 to only 37% in February 2013.’ Nevertheless, Filipino Catholics make up about 7% of the world’s Catholics. Additionally, a 2012 report by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago showed that ‘the Philippines …was found to have the highest percent (84%) of people who ‘know God really exists…’
The Ethiopian Orthodox religion dates back to the 4th century church. Legend has it that the Ark of the Covenant was brought their by Menelik, son of the Queen of Sheba who had swayed King Solomon around 900 BC.
Although Ethiopians are very religious in nature, and believe in the God of Abraham, it is uncertain how many actually follow the fundamental tenets of the Christian church. According to various sources, many Ethiopians observe Easter and fast. Additionally, most believe in ‘demon spirits’ or buda; and exorcisms for healing and other reasons are so common, that a 2010 Pew Research Center study found that as many as 74% of Christians in Ethiopia claimed to have experienced or witnessed an exorcism.
According to the 2010 study, Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, Vietnam’s population was 8% Christian, 16% Buddhist, 45% followed ‘folk religion,’ and 30% had no religion. Yet, according to the CIA World Factbook, 80% of the Vietnamese have no religion. Many Vietnamese regard themselves as Buddhists, but most of them do not participate in Buddhist rituals at the pagoda. Additionally, Vietnam has become non-religious or secular due to its Communist government.
An International Religious Freedom Report for 2013, by the U. S. Department of State, stated The Vietnam ‘government required the registration of all activities by religious groups and used this requirement to restrict and discourage participation in certain unrecognized religious groups, including some Protestant groups… religious activities were often subject to the discretion of local officials’ and freedom or restriction can vary among the provinces. Nevertheless, WIN/Gallop’s Global Index of Religiosity and Atheism has Vietnam as one of the top nations having significantly sharp declines in being religious.
A 2009 World Public Opinion poll, 61% of those Egyptians surveyed approve of attacks on Americans. Though Egypt has one of the largest Muslim populations, Cairo newspaper al-Sabah claims ‘up to 3 million Egyptians are atheists.’ Yet, a recent Gallup poll called Egypt the world’s most religious country. This is in part due to a Egyptian law that imposes up to 6 years in prison for offending religion.
A 2013 Pew Research Center study, Egyptians Increasingly Glum, showed that the public’s ‘views of the Muslim Brotherhood’ have changed. In 2011, only 20% of those polled had an unfavorable view; by 2013, 36% of the Egyptians polled have an unfavorable view of the Muslim Brotherhood. Many more Muslim women, if not for fear, would express their negative views towards traditional treatment of Muslim women, especially FGM; yet, Egyptian women have better educational and occupational opportunities than most other Arab nations. Yet, another Pew Study showed 86% of those surveyed favored a ‘death penalty for leaving Islam.’
Germany has centuries of Catholic and Protestant history and influence. It was the home of Martin Luther and 16th century Reformation. In 2010, Pew Research Center’s Global Religious Landscape study shows Germany with 69% Christians and 25% unaffiliated. The World Factbook displays 68% Christian and 28% unaffiliated. Yet the 2012 WIN-Gallop Global Index of Religiosity and Atheism has Germany with 15% atheist and 33% non-religious.
A 2012 article by The Guardian, Eastern Germany: the most godless place on Earth, ‘found that 52% of people asked whether they believed in God identified themselves as atheists. This compared with only 10% in western Germany. The survey was unable to find a single person under the age of 28 in eastern Germany who believed in God.’ In 2015, The Telegraph reported ‘up to 400,000’ renounced their member-ship in the Church to avoid ‘paying extra (capital gains) tax.’
In a 2015 WIN-Gallup Poll (Losing our religion?), 59% of the Germans responded ‘no’ when asked ‘are you a religious person?’ Moreover, a 2013 article by Germany’s Die Welt newspaper reported ‘more than 400 Roman Catholic churches and more than 100 Protestant churches have been closed since 2000. Another 700 Roman Catholic churches are slated to be closed over the next several years.’ The newspaper also found that less than 4% of their Protestants and 12% of German Catholic ‘regularly attend church.’ In 2013, according to Der Speigel magazine, due to a ‘shortage’ about ‘10% of Catholic priests in German …are from India.’
King Nebuchadnezzar II has been said to be the greatest king of Babylon. During his reign around 600 BC, was the Babylonian Exile of the Jews. These Jews settled in the former Mede capital Ecbatana (Iran) and Susa (Susan), one of the oldest cities in the world – held by Persians, Parthians and now Iranians. Thus, the Jews were in Iran more than 1200 years before Muslims settled there.
Since World War I and the League of Nation’s Mandate for Palestine tens of thousands of Jews immigrated back to Palestine. Prior to Israel becoming a state in 1948, almost a million Jews were living in the Arab world. Following World War II, with U.S., U.K. and U.N. aid and protection, Jewish people returned to Israel by the hundreds of thousands.
Shah (king) Mohammad Reza Pahlavi led Iran from 1941 until he was overthrown by the Iranian Revolution in 1979. Pahlavi built large cities, allowed women to vote and under his rule Iran became more secular. Though the 1979 constitution of Iran recognized the Jewish religion and even granted Jews a seat in Parliament, the Islamic Republic was very hostile to Israel and to Arab Jews. Due to persecution, it is difficult to known the non-religious % in Iran.
Turkey is one of the most traveled and most changed lands. It has been called Anatolia, Asia Minor, part of the Hittite Kingdom, Persian Empire, Greek Empire and Seleucid Kingdom, Roman Empire, Byzantine Empire, Ottoman Empire, and after World War I and the fall of the Ottoman Empire – Turkey. It cities were visited by apostles of Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul was from Tarsus. It was home to Troy and Byzantium, which became Constantinople under Christian rule until the Muslim conquest in 1453; and now it is Istanbul of the Republic of Turkey.
The World Factbook and Pew Forum of Religion have 98 to 99 percent of the Turkish population as Muslim; and 1% unaffiliated. However, according to Al-Monitor, ‘The Pulse of the Middle East,’ in their 2013 article Turkey is becoming more secular, not less they show ‘a gay pride parade in central Istanbul with tens of thousands of attendees, and states, “a 2008 survey, ‘Turkish Family and Religion,’ (reports) 84% of parents believe that the younger generation is less religious. Homosexuality… is much more visible and acceptable… Premarital and extramarital relationships are becoming common… Sexy dresses are seen more often… The Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in 2002… at the end of 13 years of Islamist rule, the result is an unimpressive tableau of corruption, nepotism… and a bitter intra-Islamic struggle… As Turkey’s top cleric, Mehmet Gormez, head of the Directorate of Religious Affairs, recently noted, the younger generation today can say, “If this is religion, then let’s not take it.” Thus, Turkey may well move further away from religion’.” In a 2002 Gallop poll, 17% of Turks said they ‘can live without an Enriched Spiritual and Religious Life.’ In a 2013 Pew Research study 28% of the Muslims said ‘Sharia was developed by men; based on the word of God, but not the revealed word of God.’
The World Factbook has 70% of the Democratic Republic of the Congo as being Christian, while Pew Forum of Religion has the percentage at 95. The Embassy of the Republic of Congo states, ‘Christianity is well established …around 50% of the Congolese population is Catholic while 40% of the population is Protestant.’ At least a quarter of the Congolese practice Indigenous Christianity or Traditional Beliefs. The nation continues to have civil wars, political tension, and has been called the ‘rape capital of the world;’ there is great poverty and a lack of trust.
Among the 65 countries surveyed in 2014 by Gallup International, Thailand led the list of the most religious nations with 94% of the population considering itself to be religious. Nevertheless, in a 2015 EWTN News interview, Cardinal Kovithavanij of Bangkok stated, ‘the main challenge facing the Church today is secularism…’ Nearly every home in Thailand (Siam) and Myanmar (Burma) has its spirit house or Buddhist shrine, and they are more likely to worship Siva than Yahweh Elohim (the Lord God).
In 1978 France reaffirmed an 1872 law prohibiting the state from collecting data on individual’s religious beliefs. Moreover, in 2004 the French enacted a law banning all religious symbols (Muslim headscarves or Christian crosses) from schools. The 2012 WIN-Gallup International Global Index of Religiosity and Atheism study has France among the top ten Atheist populations with 29% of the French ‘as convince atheists.’ France is ‘secular’ and in the broadest sense – not just ‘worldly,’ but ‘non-religious.’ A 2007 poll published in Le Monde des Religions showed French Catholics fell from 80% in 1993 and 67% in 2000 to 51% in 2007. A 2011 Ipsos/MORI poll had only 45% of French people claiming to be Christians, with only about 5% attending Church.
By 2012, the French were considerably worried and even angry about the growing mass immigration and control being gained by Muslims. They welcome multicultural communities, but not at the expense of losing national identity. A 2012 French Institute of Public Opinion survey purported that 60% of French people believe that Islam is ‘too visible and influential’ in France – that percent was up 55% in just two years. Moreover, a 2009 Ifop Study reported only 4.5% of France’s 64% ‘Catholics’ actually are ‘practicing’ while 41% of their Muslim ‘believers’ are ‘practicing.’ Also, the mosques doubled to more than 2,000 in a decade.
Recent studies show more than 2/3rds of France’s young adults have ‘no religion.’ And just as telling, in a 2010 Eurobarometer Poll, only 27% of French responders affirmed ‘they believe there is a God,’ while 40% answered ‘they do not believe there is any God.’
The United Kingdom is made up of England, Scotland, Wales and part of Northern Ireland. According to the UK Office for National Statistics, “In the 2011 Census, Christianity was the largest religious group in England and Wales with 33.2 million people identifying with the religion, a decrease of 4.1 million from 2001 (from 72% to 59% of the population). Muslims made up the second largest religious group with 2.7 million people, an increase of 1.2 million (from 3% to 5% of the population). The number of people who reported that they did not have a religion reached 14.1 million people, an increase of 6.4 million (from 15% to 25% of the population).” The census showed over 40% of the population from ages 0 to 49 had ‘no religion.’ It also reported that still the number one ‘written answer’ to the ‘what is your Religion?’ question is Jedi Knight (as in Stars Wars) with over 176,000.
In a 2014 YouGov poll 77% of the British surveyed stated they were ‘not very/not at all religious.’ In a 2013 YouGov poll of 18 to 24 year olds, only 25% stated they ‘believe in God.’ In 2011, out of 64,000 adults polled, only 34% ‘believed in a personal or non-intervening God.’
The Roman Catholic membership in the United Kingdom has been halved in the past 15 years and about the same for the Methodists and Presbyterians – sad for the home of Wycliffe, Tyndale, Knox and Wesley. Recent studies indicate that less than 10% of the British attend church on a regular basis. The Telegraph reported that the Church of England has been losing over 1,000 members every day. In a 2015 article, Christianity on course to be minority religion in UK, The Telegraph stated a ‘Global study predicts 1 in 9 Britons will be Muslim by 2050 but UK set to become one of the least religious countries in the world overall.’
In Italy, home of the Vatican and the Roman Catholic Church, a 2010 Pew Research Global Religious Landscape study showed 12% of Italians are unaffiliated with a religion. The World Factbook shows 20% of the population to be ‘Atheist and Agnostic.’ Yet, in a 2008 ISSP Religion study, only 54% confirmed ‘believing in a personal God;’ and only 16.7% stated they were ‘strong believers in God.’ Likewise, several studies report less than 15% attending Mass weekly.
In 2005, Cardinal Ruini, then head of the Bishop’s Conference, stated, the ‘great majority’ of Italians have only a ‘generic adhesion to Catholicism.’ In 2014, The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, stated, ‘Adult millennials, defined by the Pew Research Center as people between the ages of 18 and 33, are leaving the Catholic Church rapidly. A 2013 study by the Barna Group, a Christian polling firm, revealed that 65 percent of Catholic-raised young adults say they are less religiously active today than they were at age 15.’
Since 2008, Burma (Myanmar) has lost tens of thousands of Burmese due to natural disaster, and war; and tens of thousands more have fled the country. The U.S. Department of State reported that ‘more than 2 million Burmese migrants were residing in Thailand.’ Thousands of persecuted Christian Burmese refugees have migrated to Europe and the US.
South Africa has a mix of Christian denominations –Anglican (Church of England), Catholic, Methodists, Presbyterians, and Lutherans, all numbering in the hundreds of thousands. Their 1991 census showed that almost all South Africans profess some religious affiliation. About 80% identified themselves as Christians in 2011. And several studies show they rank high among nations as ‘practicing’ Christians.
Tanzania eliminated religious questions from their government census in 1967. A 2010 Pew Research Center survey reported about 61% identifying themselves as Christian, and 35% Muslim. However, a 2015 Reuters article, Tanzania president warns of rising religious tensions, states their ‘population …is roughly evenly split between Muslims and Christians.’ They are still influenced by their indigenous religions and beliefs, a 2012 CNN report, Witchcraft in Tanzania, claims ‘some 60% of Tanzanians believe sacrifices to spirits or ancestors can protect them from harm, and that many Christians and Muslims incorporate elements of traditional African beliefs into their daily lives.’
Korea.net states, ‘Korea is a country where all the world’s major religions, Christianity, Buddhism, Confucianism and Islam, peacefully coexist with shamanism.’ South Korea is home to the world’s largest Pentecostal church; yet, 46% of its people have ‘no religious affiliation (Pew Research, 2014).’
In the 1980’s it was said that more than 90% percent of Colombia’s population had been baptized in the Catholic Church. The Concordat of 1973, and agreement with the Vatican, replaced 1886 Constitution, in which Catholicism was ‘the Nation’s religion,’ with ‘Roman Catholicism is the religion of the great majority of Colombians.’ The concordat amended the church’s position on controlled mission territories, education, and marriage. It allowed for marriage outside the Catholic Church and paved the way for a new 1991 Constitution that made Colombia a ‘Secular State.’
According to the 2012 article Descripción cuantitativa de la pluralización religiosa en Colombia (B. Cely; Universitas Humanística 73): ‘the Catholic Church has lost its monopoly on symbolic goods of salvation. Paradoxically, although the process of religious recomposition takes place in the context of growing secularization… religious practices have been …revived…’ Cely shows that the Protestant population grew from 35,000 in 1951 and 300,000 in 1973 (year of the Concordat) to 2.1 million by 2000. It is estimated only 25% of the Catholics in Colombia are ‘practicing Catholics.’
The World Factbook has Spain at ‘94% Roman Catholic’ when Pew Research Center’s 2010 Global Religious Landscape study list it at ‘78.6% Christian’ and ‘19% unaffiliated.’ According to the Center for Sociological Investigation (CIS), in 2006 ‘77% of citizens considered themselves Catholic; however, 46% of those persons stated that they never attended Mass. In addition, 13% of Spaniards considered themselves agnostics, 6% atheists, and approximately 2% said that they practiced other religions. A 2006 survey by the Santa Maria Foundation reported that less than half of Spaniards between the ages of 15 and 24 described themselves as practicing or nonpracticing Catholics…’
The Telegraph reported in a 2011 article, Papal Visit to Spain: the rise of Spanish Secularism that the Spanish Prime Minister Rodriguez ‘refused to attend an open-air Mass held by the Pope during a 2006 visit…’and ‘since Zapatero and the Socialist Workers Party have presided over a nearly unrelenting march of secularism, often appearing to deliberately provoke the Vatican and Spain’s Catholic establishment… Zapatero legalized same-sex marriage… extended adoption rights to homosexual couples… dropped religious education in state schools… and fully legalized abortion… Only 25% of Spaniards attend church regularly. Divorce was illegal until 1981 but now ends around 50% of all marriages. Premarital sex is common… Such is the Vatican’s concern at the loss one Europe’s most traditionally Catholic countries…’ By 2014, in a study by the Spanish Centre for Sociological Research, only 68% of Spaniards identified themselves as ‘Catholic,’ while 27% claimed to be atheists or have no religion.
Kenya ranks among ‘the top 10 Religious Populations’ in the 2012 WIN-Gallup International Global Index of Religiosity and Atheism study. In 2010, UNSD of the U.N. Statistics Division listed Kenya’s 2009 census showing that about 9 million of their 38.4 million citizens were Catholic, 18.3 million were Protestant, and 4.6 million were from other Christian denominations, thus 83% identified themselves as Christian. Other 4.3 million stated they were Muslim (11%). In 2015, 147 Christian and Muslim students were massacred by Al-Shabab, Somalia based Muslims. It is difficult to tell what long-term effects religious war, weak government, indigenous religions and secularism will have on Kenya.
Ukraine was part of the largest Slavic state in the 11th century. Parts of its country have been taken and destroyed by war and politics by Lithuania, Poland, and Germany, as well as of course Russia (Soviet Union). Ukraine’s religion is primarily Orthodox Christian.
According to the Religious Information Service of Ukraine, ‘as of 2011, Ukraine had 33,977 churches and religious organizations. Today more than 97% of the registered religious communities in Ukraine are Christian. About half of them are Orthodox. The other half is split among Catholics and Protestants.’ In a 2010 survey by the Razumkov Center, 68 percent of respondents self-identify as Christian Orthodox, 7.6 percent as Greek-Catholics, 1.9 percent as Protestants, 0.9 percent as Muslims, and another 7.2 percent identify as “simply a Christian,” and 13.2 percent do not belong to any religious group. Other studies and polls suggest that most ‘Orthodox’ and for that matter Catholic and Protestants in the Ukraine are nominal or ‘non-practicing’ and many ‘non-believing in God.’
The World Factbook states that Argentina is ‘nominally Roman Catholic 92%, with less than 20% practicing.’ Pew Forum’s Religious Composition by Country for 2010 shows Argentina with 85% Christian, 1% Muslim, and 12% unaffiliated. LatinoBarometro data for 2013 has 77% of the population Catholic, 6% Evangelic and 13% none or Atheist.
The Berbers, from Mauretania (Morocco) to Numidia (Nomads of Algeria) lived in North Africa more than a thousand years before the Muslims entered Africa to take their lands and enslave their people. Algeria is now 98% Muslim and only about 15% are identified as Berbers. Most Muslims in the region have little love for French Christians; they see them responsible in great part for genocide in both Algeria and Rwanda – where hundreds of thousands were killed in two generations. A great number of Algerians are nominally religious due to fear and secularism. Their women are forbidden to marry non-Muslims. And proselytizing by non-Muslims is a criminal offense with a punishment up to a million dinars ($ 13,000) and 5 years in jail.
Uganda’s two main Christian groups are Catholics and Anglicans. Muslims made up 5% of the population in 1980, according to the Journal of Religion in Africa XI.1; yet now they are about 11%. Northern Uganda was plagued with a lengthy civil war involving the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) led by the fugitive warlord Joseph Kony. A 2015 article by The Guardian estimated that the LRA killed over 100,000 Ugandans, kidnapped at least 60,000 children, and after raping young girls, sold them as sex slaves. These events, the failure of the government to control them, and the state of widespread poverty, caused many to leave the faith.
Since Sudan gained its independence from the UK in 1956, it has been a land of civil war and genocide. In 2004, the World Health Organization estimated that there had been 50,000 deaths in Darfur since the beginning of the conflict. By 2011, the Darfur genocide had claimed between 200,000 and 460,000 due to war, disease and malnutrition.
According to a 2001 article in The Middle East Quarterly, Sudan – Civil War and Genocide, “…The civil war between Sudan’s North and South has raged intermittently since 1955 making it possibly the longest civil conflict in the world. …Over 2 million people have died …about 5 million have been displaced… tens of thousands of women and children have been abducted and subjected to slavery. It appears to be the worst humanitarian disaster in the world today. …Although Christianity predated Islam in northern Sudan, it was effectively eradicated and replaced by Islam by the early sixteenth century… Paradoxically, the religious persecution of non-Muslims has the effect of promoting Christianity…” There are over 500 indigenous tribes in Sudan, African (such as Nubian and Nuba – ‘dark’ or ‘black’) and Afro-Arab. Due to intermarriage many Muslims are Afro-Arab. It is estimated that half of the Sudanese are black, about 37% Arab; and that 70% to 80% are Muslim, and about 25% attached to indigenous religions.
The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth ruled over much of Eastern Europe until the late 18th century when Russia, Prussia and Austria partitioned Poland. Then again they were attacked by Germany and Soviet troops during World War II. The Polish people are primarily Catholic. Global Religious Landscape reported Poland to have 94% Christians in 2010.
An International Religious Freedom Report (2005) stated that ‘96% of citizens are …Catholic…’ yet it reported ‘a 2003 public opinion poll indicated …57% actively participate in religious ceremonies… 9% have no contact with the Catholic Church, and 34% …attend church irregularly.’ The 2009 Pew Global Attitudes Project reported ‘one-third of Poles say religion is very important in their lives’ and ‘45%’ affirmed that they ‘attended services weekly.’ Poland ranked higher than any other nation in Europe for both categories. Ironically, Pew reported their neighbors the ‘Czechs are the least religious of the former communist publics surveyed.’
In 2013, the Pew Research Center wrote in their article, Canada’s Changing Religious Landscape, ‘the percentage of Canadians who identify as Catholic has dropped from 47% in 1971 to 39% in 2011… and Protestant(s) …from 41% to 27%.’ Their article showed that the ‘Religiously Unaffiliated’ increased from 4% to 24% during that period. In 2010, Canada abolished the long-form census, yet it is estimate that 3% of the population is Muslim. The UC Observer (United Church Observer) is the oldest continuously published magazine in North America. In 2014, an Observer Survey, What do Canadians think of organized religion? revealed that only 7% of Canadians say they are devoutly religious. And that nearly two-thirds of Canadians describe worship services and ‘boring.’
Iraq is home to the greater part of Mesopotamia (land between the rivers – Tigris and Euphrates) and the first true city Uruk of Samaria. It was ruled by Babylonians, Assyrians, Medes, Persians, Greeks, Seleucids, Parthians, Romans, Sassanians, Arabs under Mohammed, Mongols under Hulagu Khan, Safavids, Mamluks, the Ottoman Empire, Great Britain by the League of Nations, until 1932 when Iraq became a state.
Iraq is 99% Muslim with about one-third of their population Sunni and two-thirds Shia. Now ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) has control over much of Iraq’s territory. And ISIS rebels are persecuting and killing Yazidis, Christians, and even Shi’a Muslims, as well as those that openly oppose or denounce the Sunni faith. Iraq is third on Open Doors ‘World Watch List’ for persecution.
A 2011 International Religious Freedom Report of the U.S. Department of State states, ‘Morocco’s population is 98.7% Muslim, 1.1% Christian and .2% Jewish. …The predominantly Roman Catholic and Protestant foreign-resident Christian community consists of approximately 5,000 practicing members… in 2010 many Christians were expelled’ from the country for ‘proselytizing activities.’ The report continues, ‘a 2002 law restricts …expressions critical of Islam… punishable by imprisonment.’
Afghanistan’s population is also about 99% Muslim, 80% of which are Sunni. The 2015 USCIRF Annual Report on Afghanistan states, ‘The violence demonstrated how Afghan Christians are forced to conceal their faith and cannot worship openly… many have left for India… And Hindus and Sikhs face discrimination… Apostasy from Islam is a ‘capital offense.’ And Afghanistan’s uses Sharia law as support for punishing blasphemy against Islam or trying to convert Muslims. Their 1976 Penal Code states, ‘anyone accused of blasphemy has 3 days to recant. If an accused does not recant, death by hanging may follow.’
Venezuela was colonized by Spain in 1522. In 1811, the declared their independence. Half of their population is Mestizo – ‘mixed’ of Spanish and Amerindian. All the Latin countries in South and Central America have Mestizos; Mexico has over 70%. Over the centuries they were converted by Catholic missionaries and priests. In a 2013 Latinobarometro Survey 12% of Venezuelans answered that they do not engage in religious ‘practice at all,’ 48% answered that they do not ‘practice very’ often.
Peru still has a large Amerindian population at about 45% of Peruvians. In 2007, according to the World Factbook 81% of them were Roman Catholic and 12% Evangelical. The 2013 Latinobarometro Survey had 13% of Peruvians saying that they do not engage in religious ‘practice at all,’ and 42% answered that they do not ‘practice very’ often. However, WIN-Gallup’s 2012 Global Index of Religiosity list Peru as one of the top 10 religious populations due to 85% of Peruvians surveyed saying they are ‘a religious person.’
Although Malaysia’s constitution protects religious freedom with some exceptions, the 2013 International Religious Freedom Report states: ‘there were reports of societal abuse and discrimination based on religious affiliation… including child marriages as an approved practice of Islam… Census figures indicate that 61% of the population practices Islam, 20% Buddhism, 9% Christianity, 6.3% Hinduism and 1.3% Confucianism, Taoism or other traditional Chinese philosophies and religions.’ In 2010 extremist firebombed several Christian churches. In 2013 Islamist Ibrahim Ali, held a ‘Bible-burning festival.’ In 2014, Islamic authorities seized hundreds of Bibles from a Christian Bible Society. Converts have been murdered. Malaysian law requires Christian literature to declare for ‘non-Muslims only.’
The World Factbook reports that Saudi Arabia’s (2012) ‘citizens are 85-90% Sunni and 10-15% Shia’ Muslim. Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of Islam. Medina contains the burial place of Muhammad and al-Masjid an-Nabawi (the Prophet’s Mosque). Mecca is the birthplace of Muhammad, place of his ‘revelation’ and home of the Kaaba – the Holiest place of Islam – towards which Muslims face when praying.
Saudi Arabia has a long history of their monarchy and wealthy men buying and marrying very young girls. Saudi Grand Mufti, Sheikh Abdulaziz, president of the Supreme Council of Ulema, has reaffirmed the position saying, ‘The ulema have agreed that it is permissible for fathers to marry off their small daughters, even if they are in the cradle. But it is not permissible for their husbands to have sex with them unless they are capable of …bearing their weight… Aisha was six when she married the prophet (Mohammad), but he had sex with her when she was nine…’
Uzbekistan was conquered and controlled by Russia, but was granted independence in 1991. The southern tip of Uzbekistan borders Afghanistan. Approximately 88% of its people are Muslim and about 9% are Eastern Orthodox Christians according to the CIA World Factbook. However, Pew Forum’s Global Religious Landscape puts the 2010 figure at 96.7% Muslim and 2.3% Christian.
The 2012 International Religious Freedom Report -Uzbekistan, Execute Summary: ‘In August 2011, the secretary of state redesignated Uzbekistan as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC) under the International Religious Freedom Act for having engaged in or tolerated particularly severe violations of religious freedom. The government reports that approximately 93% is nominally Muslim …Sunni …4% percent of the population is Russian Orthodox, a number that is declining as ethnic Russians and Slavs continue to emigrate. The remaining 3% …Catholics, Korean Christians, Baptists, Lutherans, evangelicals, Pentecostals, Seventh-day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Buddhists, Bahais, Hare Krishnas, and atheists.’
Nepal lies between India and China, and is home of Mount Everest, the Himalayas, Tibet, and the Pamirs (Pomir) ‘roof of the world.’ Although Nepal is famous for its Tibetan Monks, according to their 2011 census, only about 10% of Nepalese are Buddhist; about 81% are Hindu, and 4% Muslim. Unlike Hindus in India, most in Nepal eat meat.
The Portuguese controlled Mozambique for centuries until it received independence in 1975. However, less than 2% of the people are Euro-Africans or European; over 98% are African. In 2007, according to the National Institute of Statistics, a little over half of Mozambique’s population identified themselves as Christians, about half of which are Catholic.
Ghana was once an English colony and its official language is still English. Many nations sought to have some control of Africa’s ‘Gold Coast,’ and Ghana is sometimes referred to as the ‘Land of Gold.’ Vanderbilt University’s 2013 article, Religion in Ghana, says ‘…around 74% of the population in 2012 was Christians… In 1960, the main religion was Muslim around 42% whereas Christianity was only 13%. The reasoning for this dramatic change was for Basel/Presbyterian and Wesleyan/Methodist missionaries who were Portuguese and other European descents started to spread the word of God. As more churches and schools opened up it became legal to talk about the word of God in schools and the younger generation had a jump start to the future. … (Yet) Christians in Ghana also believe in witches and demons… causing illness, diseases, poverty, death and other misfortunes… They spend hours upon hours in churches praying and fasting daily… The Ghana Christian Council controls over 10 of the denominations… sometimes meeting business partners and allowing drug deals (for profit). After Islam was introduced to the northern parts of Ghana, it slowly made its way to the southern parts.’ In 2014, Christian Council Chairman Martey said, ‘there are charlatans in the church and thieves… preying on the gullibility of people.’
North Korea lies between China and South Korea. North Korea ranks number one on Open Doors World Watch List ‘where persecution is most extreme.’ It is illegal to be a Christian in North Korea and it has been reported by Open Doors that ‘Christians are often sent to labor camps or are killed if they are discovered.’ According to South Korean government reports and Amnesty International reports, as many as 200,000 North Koreans live in prison camps and a large percentage die from malnutrition while mining, logging and doing agricultural labor. Most North Koreans are Atheist or practice the Juche religion in which they worship Kim Jong-il and Kim Jong-un.
Yemen is south of Saudi Arabia; it people are Muslim with an estimated 65% Sunni and the remaining Shia. Like most Muslim nations, its constitution declares that Islam is the state religion and their laws prohibit proselytizing by non-Muslims, the penalty of apostasy is a capital offense.
Australia was claimed as British territory in 1829; and in 1901 federated to become the Commonwealth of Australia. About 77% of Australians speak English and about 30% are Protestant, 25% Catholic, over 20% have no religion, and about 10% follow aboriginal or tribal religious practices. In Australia’s 2006 Census, religion was an optional question in which 11.2% of the population left the question blank. Following their Brit brothers, many wrote in ‘Jedi,’ ‘Humanism,’ ‘Rationalism,’ ‘Agnosticism,’ and ‘Atheism.’
The Australian Bureau of Statistics produced an article called Percentage of People Reporting No Religion. It stated ‘prior to 1971 Aborigines were excluded from the counts of the population.’ It shows, in 1971, 6.7% reported no religion, and ‘from this time, reporting no religion has increased at an average of 3.9% per decade’ with over 20% explicitly check ‘none’ or ‘no religion’ by 2011.
The Australian Bureau reported in 1991 the vast majority of marriages were performed by ‘ministers of religion;’ yet, by ‘2011, 70% of all marriages were performed by civil celebrants.’ In 2013, Melbourne’s Herald Sun reported ‘almost 5 million Australians say they have no religious beliefs… and (in 2010) only 15% of men and 22% of women had actively participated in a religious or spiritual group.’ From 2006 to 2011, Hinduism grew by 86% according to the 2011 census, but is only 2% of the people.
In a 2008 Gallup poll about 70% of Australians stated religion was not important or very important to them. A 2012 WIN-Gallup poll found 48% claiming no religion, and a NORC survey found about 21% ‘don’t believe in God.’ A 2009 Christian Research Association survey reported that 16% attended a ‘religious service’ at least ‘once a month,’ down from 23% om 1993; and a 2011 McCrindle Research poll had 17% stating ‘Jesus did not exist.’
Madagascar became a French colony in 1896, and gained its independence in 1960. According to the U.S. Department of State’s 2010 International Religious Freedom Report on Madagascar, ‘…approximately half of the population is Christian… Muslims constitute 10 to 15%…’ Much of the country still practices or has ties to its traditional religions, such as Fombanrazana – where the spirits of their deceased ancestors are revered and beseeched with prayers.
Cameroon became independent from France in 1960. Due to AIDS the average life expectancy is less than 58. The country celebrates Christian and Muslim religious holidays. Sources vary reporting between 40% and 70% Christian. The 2005 census recorded 21% Muslim, and 69% Christian, with 38% being Catholic and 26% Protestant. Some nominal Cameroon Christians still return to their village priest (animism) and make offerings to their ancestors.
Angola remained a Portuguese colony until 1975. The 2010 Angolan Constitution states, ‘no one shall be deprived of their rights, persecuted or exempted… due to their religious beliefs…’ However, due to Muslim extremist in southern Africa, the government has recently placed a ‘ban’ on Islam. It is estimated that about 60% to 70% are Christian and 25% of their population combines Christianity with traditional tribal beliefs.
Syria is home of the ancient cities of Aleppo and Damascus. It is south of Turkey between Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq. Civil War continues in Syria; the U.S. State Department estimates more than ‘130,000 deaths between the start of the uprising in 2011 and year’s end… Islamic extremist groups, especially those linked to Al Qaida, increased their targeting of Alawite, Shia Muslim, Christian and other religious communities… The U.S. government estimates …Sunni Muslims constitute 74% of the population …Arabs, Kurds… Shia 13% …various Christian groups constitute the remaining 10%… although may be closer to 8% due to emigration as Christians flee the country… and (only about) 50 Jews remain in the country (2013).’
Americans typically refer to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria as ISIS; it is also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Levant is an English word, from the French and Italian, which described an Arab expression for ‘land where the sun rises,’ it is primarily Syria-Palestine. According to the Council on Foreign Relations, 2015, ‘the self-proclaimed Islamic State is a militant movement that has conquered territory in western Iraq and eastern Syria… June 2014… the Islamic State proclaimed itself a caliphate, claiming exclusive political and theological authority of the world’s Muslims.’
Romania still strongly holds on to its Eastern Orthodox Christian religion. According to the World Factbook about 82% of its people are Orthodox, 6% Protestant, 4% Catholic, and about 1% Muslim (2011). However, a 2009 study by the Bureau of Social Research reported that ‘29% of Romanians believe in witchcraft, 47% believe in astrology… 27% of Romanians share New Age beliefs in reincarnation…’ Yet, 79% affirmed ‘there is a God as described in the Bible.’
Sri Lanka is an island nation in the Indian Ocean south of India. Their official website (2015) states, ‘With a population composed with many races and religions, Sri Lanka is never short of festivals and celebrations… The May full moon poya day or Vesak is the most important …where Buddhists celebrate the nativity, enlightenment and passing away of lord Buddha.’ In 2014, the Bodu Bala Sena Buddhist Power Force bombed a mosque and killed several Muslims. Persecution has led some Muslims to flee from Sri Lanka.
Cote D’Ivoire gained independence from France with 13 other former French African colonies in 1960. According to the Association of Religion Data Archives for 2010, ‘An estimated 35 to 40% of the population is Christian and an equal number is Muslim. An estimated 25% practices indigenous religious beliefs. Many who are nominally Christian or Muslim also practice some aspects of indigenous religious beliefs, particularly as economic and political conditions worsened after the failed 2002 coup.’
Niger also gained independence in 1960. Despite French Catholic influences, it is nearly entirely Muslim. Sunni Muslims control the nation which is more than 95% Muslim. The U. S. Department of State in 2010 reported ‘Christians …account for less than 2% of the population.’
Chile was ruled over by the Inca and Mapuche until the Spanish arrived in the 16th century. Reports have put Chile’s population at 88 to 99% Christian. According to the 2002 Census 70% of the people was Catholic, 15% evangelical, 3% other Christian denominations, and 9% atheists or agnostic. Pew Research Center noted in their 2014 article, Religion in Latin America, that in 1910 Chileans were 96% Catholic, the population was 76% Catholic in 1970, and by 2014 was reduced to 64% and falling. By 2014, at least 16% of Chileans had no religion or were atheist/agnostic.
Burkina Faso also gained independence from France in 1960. The 2006 government census reported 60% of Burkinabe are Muslim and about 23% are Christian with the remaining primarily following indigenous beliefs. The countries median age in 2014 was 17. A large percentage of the people seasonally migrate to Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana. In 2005, the World Health Organization reported that nearly 3 of 4 Muslim girls and women in the country have been subjected to FGM and many to slavery.
Malawi has been a haven for refugees from other African countries, such as Mozambique and Rwanda. Due to violence, poverty, AIDS, civil war, malaria, hepatitis and other diseases, the life expectancy for a male in Malawi around 2003 was 36 years old. According to the 2008 census, approximately 83% of the population is Christian (most Catholic or Presbyterian), and 13% Muslim. According to Demographic Research’s Malawi Religion Project (2009) ‘the average Christian congregation had just fewer than 40 members and has been in existence for over 20 years. While few religious leaders have received any secondary education, over 60% report having attended some type of religious training.’ The Project showed about 63% of those surveyed attended church regularly.
Christians were in the Netherlands before Martel or Charlemagne ruled the former Frankish kingdom. Ironically, it was in Antwerp that William Tyndale translated the complete Bible into English – the last edition in 1535. After decades of influence from Catholics, Puritans, Huguenots and other Protestants, humanism began to enter the schools during the late 17th century. However, during the 1800s to World War II revival spread through the nation.
It was around the 1960s that the Dutch began to leave the faith. In 1947, 44% of the population were Protestant, 39% Catholic and 17% were unaffiliated. About 80% of the Dutch Jews were murdered in The Holocaust, and after the War many religious adherents became disenchanted in many nations. By 1980, Catholics held about 40% of the population and Protestants still held about the same. By 2000, there was a decline of about 10% in the Christian population. In 2006, the Scientific Council for Government Policy (WRR) reported that about ‘54% of the population has some religious affiliation, although many do not actively practice their religious beliefs… 43% Christian …5.7% Muslim.’ By 2013, there were 26% Catholic and 16% Protestants, with also 5% Muslim; but moreover, 47% with no religion (Statistics Netherlands/Central Bureau of Statistics)
In 2015, a Christian Today article reported ‘25% of the population are atheists while only 17% still believe in God (31% were agnostic).’ What is just as sad, BBC News reported in a 2011 article, Dutch rethink Christianity for a doubtful world, ‘part of the mainstream Protestant Church in the Netherlands (PKN) …teach the Bible’s account of Jesus’ life as a mythological story… A study by the Free University of Amsterdam found that one-in-six clergy in the PKN and six other smaller denominations was either agnostic or atheist.’ A new tack is to present this false doctrine of ‘Christian atheism.’
The Kazakhs of Kazakhstan are a mix of Turkic and Mongol tribes who became part of the Soviet Union in 1936. It is about 70% Muslim (Sunni) and 25% Christian (Russian Orthodox; Russian Catholic and other Protestant). In 2012, the government passed laws placing compulsory ‘censorship on religious materials;’ and high fines on individuals practicing religious beliefs without state permission.
Ecuador lies between Colombia and Peru and over 70% of Ecuadorans are mestizo (Amerindian and European). About 13% of the population is Protestant and 70% to 79% Catholic (2014). According to a 2014 Pew Research study, Religion in Latin America, 62% of the ‘Protestants’ surveyed stated they were ‘raised as Catholics.’ The same study showed that ‘religion was not important’ to about half of the respondents. In 1950, 98% of Ecuadorians were Catholic.
Guatemala was ruled by the Mayans for tens of centuries. They worshipped many gods, practiced divination and even build pyramids for human sacrifice. When the Spanish arrived in the sixteenth century, they brought epidemics that killed large percentages of the population, as well as allied with various indigenous Mayan tribes (such as the Kaqchikel) to conquer other ruling tribes. Guatemala gained independence in 1821, yet, that was still followed by many civil wars, coups and revolution.
Most Guatemalans are Mestizo; and in 2010, 96% of the population identified themselves as Christian. In 1910 and 1950, 99% of the people were Catholic, yet by 2010 the Roman Catholic Episcopal Conference of Guatemala estimated 65% to be Catholic and the Evangelical Alliance estimated 43% to be Protestant. In a 2014 Pew Research study only half the population was identified as Catholic. Many indigenous Christians still practice spiritual rituals.
The Constitution of Greece states in Section II, ‘the prevailing religion in Greece is that of the Eastern Orthodox Church of Christ. The Orthodox Church of Greece, acknowledging our Lord Jesus Christ as its head… observes …the holy apostolic and synodal canons and sacred traditions.’ The World Factbook for 2010 showed that 98% of the population was Greek Orthodox and 1% Muslim; yet, the Pew Research Center list it as 88% Christian and 5% Muslim for the same period.
A 2010 Eurobarometer Poll reported the Greeks as one of the highest among all nations for belief in God – 79%. In 2014, they were the most religious nation in the EU with 75% identifying themselves as religious in an All-European Social Research poll. Additionally, 46% stated they prayed regularly and 26% attended church at least once a week.
The Czechs and Slovaks of the Austro-Hungarian Empire merged into Czechoslovakia. 1993, the country again separated into the Czech Republic and Slovakia. About 85% of Slovenia is Christian; and the opposite is nearly true for the Czechs as about 20% to 23% are Christian and as many as 80% non-religious.
According to WIN/Gallup International the three least religious European countries were Sweden (19%), the Netherlands (26) and the Czech Republic at only 27% claiming to be religious. In their 2011 census, 34% claimed no religion, 10% were Catholic, 45% did not answer the religion question, and 2% were Evangelical. From 1991 to 2011 the Catholic population was reduced from 39% to 10%. Moreover, a 2010 Eurobarometer Poll found that only 16% of Czech citizens stated ‘they believe there is a God.’