Religion Facts - Compassion International

Quick Facts About Religion
Get the facts about the various religions around the world.

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Poverty affects people in every corner of the world, regardless of their religion. In order to make a true and lasting difference for those in poverty, we must be culturally and religiously sensitive as we interact with the poor around the world.

These facts about religion touch on religion's involvement in the fight against global poverty.

  • In 2010, nearly a third (31 percent) of all people on Earth were Christians, and 23 percent of the global population was Muslim. 1
  • Between 2010 and 2050, Muslims are projected to increase by 73 percent. The number of Christians is projected to rise by 35 percent. 1
  • Over the coming decades (2010 to 2050), about 40 million people are projected to switch into Christianity, while 106 million are projected to leave, with most joining the ranks of the religiously unaffiliated. 1
  • By 2050, four out of every 10 Christians in the world will live in sub-Saharan Africa. 1

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  • India is projected to have the largest Muslim population of any country in the world in 2050, surpassing Indonesia. 1
  • In the next four decades, atheists, agnostics and other people who do not affiliate with any religion – though increasing in the U.S. and France – will make up a declining share of the world’s total population. 1
  • If current trends continue, by 2050 Muslims will be more numerous in the U.S. than people who identify as Jewish on the basis of religion and Christians in the U.S. will decline from more than three-quarters of the population to two-thirds. 1
  • Roughly a quarter of the world’s countries are grappling with high levels of religious hostilities within their borders. 2
  • The share of countries with high or very high government restrictions on religion was 27 percent in 2013. 2
  • In 2013, harassment of Christians, either by government or social groups, was found in 102 of 198 countries; Muslims were harassed in 99 countries and harassment of Jews was found in 77 countries. 2
  • Latin America is home to more than 425 million Catholics – nearly 40 percent of the world’s total Catholic population. 3
  • Across all 18 countries in Latin America, a median of nearly two-thirds of Protestants (65 percent) identify as Pentecostal Christians. 3
  • Protestants now account for about one-in five Hispanics in the United States (22 percent). 3
  • 48 percent of practicing Christians under age 40 in the U.S believe it’s possible to end extreme poverty in the next 25 years, compared to 32 percent of all U.S. adults. 4

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  • More than four in 10 practicing Christians under age 40 in the U.S. strongly agree that Christians have a particular responsibility to help solve global poverty; three in 10 of those over 40 agree. 4
  • In 2013, 56 percent of practicing Christians in the U.S. donated to a non-profit organization to help people in extreme poverty. 4
Religions Around the World
  • 32 percent of the people in the world are Christians.
  • 23 percent are Muslims.
  • 16 percent are not religious.
  • 14 percent are Hindu.
  • 7 percent are Buddhists.
  • 6 percent are Primal Indigenous.
  • 6 percent and Chinese Traditionalists.
  • 0.4 percent are Sikhs.
  • 0.22 percent are Jews.
Compassion is a Christ-centered organization. Sponsored children are encouraged to live according to biblical principles and to practice the spiritual disciplines of prayer, Bible study, worship and service. However, the children are not required to become Christians.
How do the UN Sustainable Development Goals relate to Compassion?

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The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) directly parallel what Compassion does. But when it comes to goals and implementation we sometimes take a different approach. This is a quick analysis of the SDGs and how they most closely match our work, along with ways they overlap and differ.