Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

THE PORT RAIL: Christianity World's Fastest Growing Faith

Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

THE PORT RAIL: Christianity World's Fastest Growing Faith

Article excerpt

Quick quiz: What is the fastest growing religion in the world? No fair looking at your iPhone, iPad or any other device that will take you to Wikipedia for a quick cheat.

If you answered Islam, you flunked. If you answered Christianity, you get a gold star for the day.

We are revisiting religion in the light of radical Islam's apparent growth by leaps and bounds in Syria and Iraq. Young Muslims from all over the world seem to be -- if we read and watch the media -- hopping on board the Jihadist train gaining speed and picking up converts by the hundreds and thousands along the way. It is the wave of the future. Not.

Christianity is the fastest growing religion, no matter how you measure it. In absolute numbers -- in the increase of new adherents and in the absolute number of new Christians due to population growth -- Christianity is first. Islam is second.

For those statistically inclined, Christians number slightly less than 2 billion and make up about a third of the world population, or approximately the same as the two next largest religions combined: Islam and Hinduism. Christianity is also the only religion represented in all 238 surveyed countries in a study done by Oxford University Press. A book by Philip Jenkins, "The Next Christendom, the Coming of Global Christianity," is filled with revealing data and analysis.

Christendom as a "Western" phenomenon, whose characteristics were historically determined in Europe and North America, is on the decline, dramatically in some nations like Great Britain.

The "new" Christendom, the rapidly growing one, is charismatic, Pentecostal, spirit-filled and most decidedly conservative. It is in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The "old" Christendom of Europe is shrinking and no longer represents the dynamic, cutting edge of Christianity.

Uganda represents but one example of the expanding frontiers of Christianity.

The population in 1950 was 5.5 million people in a land the size of Oregon. The number of people is roughly doubling every quarter century or so. By 1975 there were 11 million people, 23 million by 2000; by 2025 there will be 55 million and 65 million by 2050.

Uganda represents one of the triumphs of the missionary movement of the past two centuries in Africa where Christianity was newly planted only in the mid-19th century. Today, about 40 percent of the population is Protestant, 5 percent Catholic and 10 percent Muslim, and small percentages follow traditional African religions.

By 2050, if present projections hold, there will be more self- described Christians in Uganda than in places like Germany or Britain. …

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