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Friday, November 30, 2012

The Triumph of Christianity


To the chagrin of some and the delight of others, Christianity continues to thrive here in the U.S. and around the world. Indeed, as the table below indicates, both in terms of raw and active membership (active membership is defined as attending a place of worship in the last 7 days -- a very strict measure of membership) numbers (and %'s) for religions around the world, Christianity remains, by a large margin (and contrary to much conventional wisdom), the largest religion in the world. The statistics come from the sociologist Rodney Stark's recent book (with the politically incorrect title), "The Triumph of Christianity: How the Jesus Movement Became the World's Largest Religion."


Membership
Active Membership
Religion
Raw
%
Raw
%
Christian
2,195,674,000
41.43%
1,281,042,000
43.63%
Muslim
1,429,772,000
26.98%
857,620,000
29.21%
Hindu
1,011,709,000
19.09%
579,192,000
19.73%
Buddhism
289,856,000
5.47%
130,512,000
4.44%
Jewish
12,849,000
0.24%
4,604,000
0.16%
Other
119,195,000
2.25%
59,724,000
2.03%
Secular
240,650,000
4.54%
23,570,000
0.80%
Total
5,299,705,000
100.00%
2,936,264,000
100.00%

Politically incorrect or not, in his book Rod identifies a number of factors that help explain Christianity's appeal. Many of the factors (e.g., better treatment of women, higher demands it placed on members, care for the sick, etc.) he covered in his earlier, Pulitzer-prize nominated book, "The Rise of Christianity." Indeed, in many ways Stark's more recent book could be seen as an expanded, second edition of the first.

Of course, most of you don't have time to read Rod's book, but it just so happens that Tony Gill has interviewed Rod as part of his "Research on Religion" podcast (Gill is a professor of political science at the University of Washington in Seattle), which you can find a link for below. In fact, Gill interviewed Rod three times about his book and all are available at the Research on Religion website:
  1. The Triumph of Christianity, Part I (Jesus to Constantine)
  2. The Triumph of Christianity, Part II (Constantine to the Protestant Reformation)
  3. The Triumph of Christianity, Part III (Protestant Reformation to Present)

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