Christianity: POPULATION

Christianity: POPULATION

POPULATION

Christian statistics: The following list shows the countries with the largest numbers of Christians. Christianity, as defined for the purpose of census and surveys, includes all those who claim to be Christian. This includes varying degrees of religious activity, from
essentially non-participating but still-nominal Christians to active full-communicants and life-long clergy. These numbers also include adherents of different divisions within Christianity, including Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Protestant, Pentecostals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Latter-day Saints, African Indigenous Churches and others.

Top 10 Largest
National Christian Populations


Rank


Nation


Number


Percent

1

USA

224,457,000

85%

2

Brazil

139,000,000

93%

3

Mexico

86,120,000

99%

4

Russia

80,000,000

60%

5

China

70,000,000

5.7%

6

Germany

67,000,000

83%

7

Philippines

63,470,000

93%

8

United Kingdom

51,060,000

88%

9

Italy

47,690,000

90%

10

France

44,150,000

98%

11

Nigeria

38,180,000

45%

 

Source for
these Christian statistics: Ash, Russell. The Top 10 of Everything, DK
Publishing, Inc.: New York (1997), pg. 160-161; December Advance Newsletter,
1996, Kainos Press;

Adherents.com
.

NOTE: There are many countries where very high percentages (95 to nearly 100%)
of the population are Christians. There are so many, and they represent such a
wide range of difficult-to-compare compositions in terms of activity, membership
in European state churches, affiliation, etc., that it would be difficult to
create a meaningful top 10 list of countries with the highest percentages of
Christians. Please refer to the full

Adherents.com
for such information.







Major Branches

 

Major
Denominational Families of Christianity
(This table does not
include all Christians. These numbers are estimates, and are here
primarily to assist in ranking branches by size, not to provide a definitive
count of membership.)


Branch


Number of Adherents

Catholic

1,050,000,000


Orthodox/Eastern Christian

240,000,000

African
indigenous sects (AICs)

110,000,000

Pentecostal

105,000,000


Reformed/Presbyterian/Congregational/United

75,000,000

Anglican

73,000,000

Baptist

70,000,000

Methodist

70,000,000

Lutheran

64,000,000

Jehovah’s
Witnesses

14,800,000

Adventist

12,000,000

Latter Day
Saints

12,500,000

Apostolic/New
Apostolic

10,000,000


Stone-Campbell (“Restoration Movement”)

5,400,000


New Thought (Unity, Christian Science, etc.)

1,500,000

Brethren
(incl. Plymouth)

1,500,000

Mennonite

1,250,000

Friends
(Quakers)

300,000

 

 

 

NOTE:
Division into denominational families offers a more detailed look at the
composition of Christianity as a whole, but can be misleading. Among Protestants
today, most significant divisions with regard to culture, practice and doctrine
are not between denominational families, but between Liberal and
Conservative
Protestants.

Since the 1940s, one of the most important distinctions Christians have written
about is between Evangelical and non-Evangelical Christians. At the
denominational level, the Evangelical branch of Christianity is roughly
equivalent to the Conservative Protestants, including Pentecostals. But both
sociologists and Christian writers usually assign non-historical and
non-denominational parameters to “Evangelical”, defining the term primarily in
theological and behavioral terms. Based on such criteria, sociologists have
sometimes even included as “Evangelicals” many people not usually considered
Protestant, such as Latter Day Saints and “born-again Catholics”.

The variety
of terms applied to different divisions and movements among conservative
American Protestants can be confusing. Some of the most important and widely
used are: born again Christians, Evangelicals, Pentecostals, Charismatics and
Fundamentalists. These terms frequently overlap or are defined differently by
different writers.

It is beyond
the scope of this page to fully describe major divisions in conservative
Protestantism, but the following definitions from an



article

by Harvey Cox for The Atlantic Monthly (Nov. 1995) are useful:

– “Born-again” is the broadest
category. It includes the 39 percent of the American population who claim they
have had a personal experience of Christ. Their political ideas span the
spectrum, and Jimmy Carter is not the only born-again political liberal.

– “Evangelical
describes a theological position, one recognizing not only the need for such a
personal experience with God but also the unique religious authority of
Scripture and an obligation to share one’s faith with others. Billy Graham is
the paradigmatic evangelical.

– “Fundamentalists,”
though they share many of the evangelicals’ beliefs, also fiercely insist on the
“verbal inerrancy” of the Bible, and this has led them into noisy conflicts over
creation and evolution. William Jennings Bryan, who defended a literal reading
of Genesis at the famous Scopes “monkey trial” in 1925, was a classic
fundamentalist.


Pentecostals
, by far the fastest-growing wing of Christianity today, share
most evangelical beliefs, but for them all theology is secondary. What is most
important is an immediate encounter with the Holy Spirit in a style of worship
that is exuberant and even ecstatic. Aimee Semple McPherson was the first
Pentecostal preacher to achieve celebrity status in America.

– “Charismatics
(the word’s root means “gift of grace”) are people who practice a Pentecostal
form of worship but remain in their own Catholic or Protestant churches.

 

Significant Sociologically Distinct
Branches of Christianity

The list of branches shown below represents an attempt to be less arbitrary,
showing major branches between which there are real differences with
regard to culture, practice, doctrine, and history. Given these criteria,
this list is more subjective than a listing of denominational families,
which was primarily based on historical considerations only. Once again, the
numbers are estimates. The boundaries between some of these groups are
somewhat blurry (such as between some Pentecostal and Conservative Protestant
groups).

 


Branch


Number of Adherents

Catholic

1,050,000,000

Orthodox/Eastern Christian

240,000,000

Conservative Protestant

200,000,000

Liberal Protestant

*

150,000,000

African indigenous sects
(AICs)

110,000,000

Pentecostal

105,000,000

Anglican

*

73,000,000

Jehovah’s Witnesses

14,800,000

Latter Day Saints

12,500,000

New Thought (Unity,
Christian Science, etc.)

1,500,000

Friends (Quakers)*

300,000

* Liberal
Protestants
: A recent development in the United States has been the formal
ecumenical movement marking increased cooperation among a number of
long-separated liberal-to-moderate Protestant denominations. Currently a
significant part of this unification of this branch of Protestantism is the
“Churches United in Christ” agreement, which will create a network of
denominations which share ministries and recognize one another’s churches and
share in Communion. Currently the combined membership of this movement is 17
million
, representing about 7% of U.S. Christians, or about 12% of
affiliated
Christians in the U.S. [
Article.]

* Anglicans
are clearly distinct from Liberal Protestants in history, polity and liturgy.
Anglicans, however, exhibit extreme ecumenical tendencies and in some countries
have forged formal communions or outright mergers with Liberal Protestants.
Anglicans are often grouped with Liberal Protestants in studies of a strictly
sociological
nature. Positions on political issues, voting patterns,
educational/vocational demographics, etc. tend to be similar between the two
groups.

* Quakers: Classification of Quakers into functionally meaningful
“branches” of Christianity is difficult. Certainly the Quaker faith and witness
arose from a Protestant background and Quakerism is correctly classified today
as Protestant. But it is not as simple to group Quakers as “Conservative
Protestant” or “Liberal Protestant.” Like many other historical denominatinal
families (Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, etc.), different Quaker
denominations, and even congregations, are clearly either Liberal or
Conservative with regards to many issues. But, although embracing certain
degrees of ecumenicalism, Quakers nevertheless have maintained denominational
identity which exceeds that of most other Protestant denominations. Various
innovations by founder George Fox, including distinctive forms of Quaker worship
(Meetings, “gathering”, etc.), emphasis on Inner Light, as well as the
pacifistic stand against violence in all forms, including self defense, all
serve to heighten Quaker identity. Quakers still exhibit separate expressions of
art and culture. So while “Lutheranism”, “Presbyterianism”, “Methodism”,
“Congregationalism”, etc. are no longer sociological significant categories for
most purposes, “Quakerism” still is and will continue to be so into the
forseeable future. Those interested in this topic may find appreciate


A Certain Kind of Perfection: An Anthology of Evangelical
and Liberal Quaker Writers

(edited by Carolyn Wilhelm, Margery P. Abbott).

Source:

www.adherents.com

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