“No Religion” Is World’s Third Largest Religion

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STUDY: Prayer Makes You Forgive (thumbnail)People with no religious affiliation make up the third-largest global group in a new study of the size of the world’s faiths, placing after Christians and Muslims and just before Hindus.

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The study, based on extensive data for the year 2010, also showed Islam and Hinduism are the faiths mostly likely to expand in the future while Jews have the weakest growth prospects.

It showed Christianity is the most evenly spread religion, present in all regions of the world, while Hinduism is the least global with 94 percent of its population in one country, India.

Overall, 84 percent of the world’s inhabitants, which it estimated at 6.9 billion, identify with a religion, according to the study entitled “The Global Religious Landscape” issued by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life on Tuesday.

The Roman Catholic Church makes up 50 percent of that total, with Protestants — including Anglicans and non-denominational churches — at 37 percent and Orthodox at 12 percent.

There are about 1.6 billion Muslims around the world, or 23 percent of the global population. “The overwhelming majority (87-90 percent) are Sunnis, about 10-13 percent are Shia Muslims,” the study said.

Among the 1.1 billion unaffiliated people around the world, over 700 million, or 62 percent of them, live in China alone, where they make up 52.2 percent of the Chinese population.

Japan comes next with the second largest unaffiliated population in the world with 72 million, or 57 percent of the national population. After that comes the United States, 51 million people — 16.4 percent of all Americans — said they have no link to an established faith.

Make sure to visit pewresearch.org. You can read all the specifics there.

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