DETROIT (ChurchMilitant.com) - A new poll by Pew Research is projecting that Islam will surpass Christianity by the end of the 21st century, is now the world's fastest growing religion. The research corroborates prior statistics that Pew published last April indicating a projected increase in Islam alongside a stagnation of Christianity.
Despite low fertility rates, low conversions and the steep growth of non-affiliation among American millennials, Christianity is set to keep a simple majority of 65 percent in 2050. Islam is expected to more than double, moving from 1 to 2.4 percent.
The research also reveals a trend of support for Sharia law, with large majorities in every region expressing a favorable view, with the exception of Southern and Eastern Europe and Central Asia, where it still exceeds 10 percent in all but one country. Support for Sharia comes in at 12 percent in Turkey, considered a moderate Muslim country.
The slowing growth of Christianity is reflected in the statistics showing only a 35-percent increase in the global Christian population, which parallels the increase in the global population itself — showing Christianity is only keeping pace with worldwide demographics.
The trends regarding Christians do not account for population trends of Catholics and protestants as particular groups, nor do they show levels of religiosity among self-identified Christians or among Catholics or protestants.
Although polls from Pew show an 11-percent jump in "nones" between "GenX" Americans and older millennials, Christianity's decline shows a steady 3-percent drop over 10-year intervals, bringing Christians from 77 percent in 2010 down to 65 percent in 2050. Possible mitigating forces preventing a steeper drop include fertility, conversions or migration.
The new statistics show a comparison of fertility rates of Muslims and non-Muslims, broken down by global region. A fertility rate of 2.1 children per family is considered the standard replacement rate. Pew's new numbers show the Muslim population exactly at 2.1 in Europe and well above 2.1 in every other region.
Non-Muslim fertility rates surpass 2.1 in only two regions: sub-Saharan Africa, and the Middle East and North Africa. Pew's research released last year regarding global trends in Christian populations reflect current fertility figures. For example, by 2050, it is estimated that approximately 40 percent of the world's Christians will live in sub-Saharan Africa. Christian population growth by region exceeds the global 35-percent rate in the same two places: Africa and the Middle East.
Pew projections from the report titled "The Future of World Religions" show a net growth among the religiously unaffiliated of 60 million. The Christian population, on the other hand, is set to see a net loss of 66 million.
A Pew graphic shows that the single largest block of Christian migration will take place from Latin America and the Caribbean to North America, with a migrant flux of 2.3 million from 2010 to 2015. That brings total Christian migration to North America to 3 million.
If that rate of Christian migration remains steady from now until 2050, it accounts exactly for Pew's 20 million increase in North American Christians. Therefore, migration comes the closest to explaining the steadiness of Christianity's decline in America. On the other hand, the same report on Christians shows that when you control from migration, migration hurts the Christian proportion of the North American population, albeit by less than one percent.