Data gathered by the Pew Research Center in a 2017 global survey about religion, show that Islam has been spreading much faster than Christianity, and now has potential to surpass the latter in being the largest religion on a global scale.
According to the Pew report, the numbers of Muslims in Islamic countries have grown from 1.8 billion since 2015; and is expected to increase by 70% and reach 3 billion by 2060. Yet, population growth is not the only driving factor though, as the research center has established other possible reasons.
Religion and Living Arrangements
In determining the relationship between religion and households throughout the world, a Pew 2019 survey suggests that patterns in living arrangements tend to influence the extent by which people give value to religion. In terms of sizes, Hindus and Moslems have larger households than Christians and non-Christians.
Yet in a previous social science research, the data collected in the U.S. where households are relatively small, tell a different story. The patterns influencing the extent by which most Americans value religion and their participation in a religious community, is largely linked to patterns of marriage, childbearing and divorce.
Younger and Older Generations: Views on the Importance of Religion
Across 58 countries in which Pew had conducted surveys pertaining to the importance of religion, the findings were not significantly different. Still, In 46 out of 106 countries in which surveys were conducted, adults below 40 are less inclined to say that religion plays an important role in their lives.
Based on specific religion, about 50% of the younger generation of Christians in the average country, regard religion as important, while 56% of the older generation of Christians attest that religion is important. The age gap pattern shows that only half of the Christians in both age groups consider religion as important to their way of life.
In contrast, the age gap pattern in an average islamic country shows only a 3-percent difference between younger and older generations of Muslims. Survey data reveal that 76% of Muslims in ages below 40, as well as 79% of those belonging in the 40 and above age bracket, consider their religion as very important.
There is clear indication that in the future, there will be a greater number of people belonging to the Islamic faith when compared to the potential number of people adhering to a Christian religion.
Education Level and Inequality of Wealth Influence Practice of Religion
The Pew Research Center’s analysis of their survey results indicate that religious commitment is higher in countries where there is higher income disparity and lower educational attainment.
Analysis shows that in European countries where the population has more years of education, there is a lower rate of attendance in religious services. In contrast, countries in sub-Saharan Africa where the population ordinarily experiences few years of schooling, tend to have a higher proportion of adults committed to attending religious services.
However, data gathered from the U.S. show that the American population is an exception to this observation. Results showed that when compared to the 102 countries surveyed, the U.S. is the only country with a higher-than-average number of adults who pray (55%), whilst also having higher than average level of income.