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What Is the Most Popular Religion?

The Kaaba in the Saudi Arabian city of Mecca is a site of Muslim pilgrimage.
Temples dedicated to the various Hindu gods can be found throughout India.
The altar inside St. Peter's Basilica, which is the largest Roman Catholic church.
The rituals of indigenous religions are officiated by holy men throughout the world.
Islam is the second most popular religion.
Vatican City, an enclave within the city of Rome, is the seat of the Roman Catholic Church.
A statue of Confucius, the founder of Confucianism, which is practiced by around 400 million people.
Judaism, often symbolized by the Star of David, is not one of the world's ten most followed religions.
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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Images By: Ramzi Hachicho, F9Photos, Stefano Costantini, Smithsonian Institution, Eray, Sergiyn, Philipus, Lifeinapixel
  • Last Modified Date: 23 July 2014
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The most popular religion in the world is Christianity. Estimates suggest there are currently approximately two billion practicing Christians. About half of these are Catholics, and the majority shares of other Christian faiths include Protestants and Anglicans. In total, roughly 33% of those in the world practice Christianity in some form.

Islam comes in as the second most popular religion in the world, with approximately one billion members. Some Islamic people claim that there are actually more practicing Muslims than practicing Christians. This depends on how one defines the word “practicing.” A person who cites his/her religion as Christianity might not, for example, attend church regularly. This to a Muslim might seem like failure to practice the religion. This, to the Christian, might merely seem an acceptable way to practice his or her faith.

In the United States, however, Islam is the fastest growing religion. Roughly 80% of the mosques in the US were built within the last 20 years. These mosques were not built for Islamic immigrants primarily, but for those converts born in the US. Certainly, an increase in immigration of people who are Muslims has increased the number in the US; however, this immigration has slowed since 9/11.

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The third largest group of the population is considered non-religious. About one billion people consider themselves to not regularly practice any religion, or to be atheists. This is actually a diverse group, including agnostics. Atheists only represent a small portion of the one billion. Many are simply unsure what faith is the right one for them, and also may have problems with organized religion in general.

About 900 million people practice the Hinduism. Both Confucianism (sometimes called Chinese traditional religion), and Buddhism are practiced by close to 400 million people each. Indigenous and African traditional religions are practiced by approximately 300 million and 100 million people, respectively. Numbers decline into the 10 millions for the religions that follow.

The top ten religions:

  1. Christianity
  2. Islam
  3. Nonreligious
  4. Hinduism
  5. Chinese Traditional Religion
  6. Buddhism
  7. Primal or Indigenous Religion
  8. African Tradition Religion
  9. Sikhism
  10. Juche

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Discuss this Article

anon961916
Post 25

Jesus is the answer. He is not only your God, but is your best friend. He is a healer, a teacher and most of all, he loves every one one of you, regardless of what you say of him.

anon942215
Post 24

From my experience, I have found that more than half the people who claim they are Christian, only say this because it is a popular religion and in reality they practice no such thing. Christianity is not just a set of rules and regulations; it's having a relationship with God.

anon355372
Post 21

I am proud to be a Muslim and I want to tell all Muslims to not care about what people say a bout us and keep your heads up high and proudly wait until the end when all these people are proved wrong.

anon312204
Post 16

Islam is peaceful religion because it tells us rights of people in our society, like for our parents, neighbours, orphans, children, etc.It also tells us things that I can't find those in any other religion. I was Christian, but then I converted to Islam because it is the true religion.

anon292816
Post 15

Wow! What about the Coptic Christians? They are the origin of Christianity, way before Catholicism, and it's still very much alive.

tigers88
Post 14

I think it is less interesting to look at the level of believers between major religions than to look at the rifts that develop within religions.

For instance, I heard recently that Pentecostalism is the fastest growing Christian faith. Mormonism is also growing fast. I think it is a lot more interesting and useful to think about the forms of Christina belief that are waxing and weaning in popularity rather than looking at the number of new Christians compared to new Muslims.

truman12
Post 13

Do you guys think it is worth it to even consider what the most popular religion is? I mean, doesn't this kind of frame it as a competition that cheapens the whole idea of religion in the first place?

I am genuinely curious because maybe I am wrong. I can see on a very objective level how you could gauge a certain kind of "success" on lots of different levels based entirely on the number of believers.

anon263858
Post 12

I don't get religion. It all stinks.

anon263857
Post 11

This article only proves that one billion of us out there aren't arrogant, hardheaded morons. I'm an agnostic atheist and glad/sad that there's only one-seventh of the world's population that has gotten past the stupidity of religion.

hanyo
Post 9

It is important to note that, as mentioned in the article, Islam is the fastest-growing religion. That shows just how a good and peaceful religion Islam is.

Many people obtain their initial idea about Islam from the misleading media. But then, when they read about Islam, discuss it with a Muslim, or visit a Muslim country, they find the truth: Islam is all about being good.

Interestingly, most of the converts to Islam in the US are women.

latte31
Post 8

Comfyshoes-I know that the Jewish religion has many beliefs and celebrations also. Rosh Hashanah for example, is a day in which Jews fast and make a mends to those that they have hurt.

This is considered their new year. Yom Kippur is the Jewish Day of Atonement in which they are sorry for their wrong going and are forgiven. They do not work on these days, but do attend a synagogue.

This is different than the Catholic religious faith with allows its followers to go to confession on a weekly basis, in order to get sins absolved.

Catholicism is really among the world religions because it is practiced heavily in many parts of the world including in North America, South and Central America, Europe and Australia.

BrickBack
Post 7

Comfyshoes-I know after baptism, there is the sacrament of communion. Communion is the act of taking the body of Christ known as the Eucharist.

In order to prepare for this special sacrament, children beginning in first grade have to take religious classes for two years in order to participate in communion.

During the second year of study, they learn the Act of Contrition which is a prayer said during confession. The must do their first holy confession before they are allowed to receive holy communion.

The act of confession absolves the child of their sins which allows them to later receive the body of Christ during church. This is one of the most special sacraments within the Catholic Church and there are usually large celebrations that follow such a milestone.

comfyshoes
Post 6

Subway11-I saw the Oprah show the other day that mentioned that the nun’s attire was their wedding dress. I did not even know that.

I do know that the Catholic faith religion has several sacraments. The first being baptism. Baptism is based on the religion belief that we are all born with original sin and the act of baptism actually allows you to become a child of God.

This act forgives the original sin. At a baptism there should be a godmother and godfather that are chosen in order to guide the child in the Catholic religion.

The godparents can not be the parents, it has to be other people in the child’s life that are Catholics in good standing that will be able to provide guidance throughout the child’s life, in addition to the parent’s role.

subway11
Post 5

Harmen- That is an interesting post. I just wanted to add that the Catholic religion is among the most popular religions in the world. The Pope who is lives in the Vatican in Italy leads the Catholic religion.

The Bishops and Archbishops are the local and regional leaders of the Catholic Church and the Pastor is the leader of a specific church. Leaders of the Catholic Church are all male, as females are only allowed to serves as nuns.

Nuns are referred to as sisters and priests are referred to as father. Priest like nuns take a vow of poverty and celibacy. The reason is clear. There should not be anything that completes with their relationship with God which is why these temptations are removed. Nuns are actually seen as married to Jesus and their attire is viewed as their wedding dress.

Harmen
Post 2

Christian missionologists say the fastest growing fellowship within the body of Christ is the Pentecostal movement, that is overseas.

Is that what Joel and Peter meant when they spoke, "That in the last days God will more out his Spirit on all flesh?"

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