Muslims to nearly catch up with Christians by 2050, number of Jews to shrink in U.S.

( Islam is expected to nearly catch up with Christianity as the world’s largest faith by the year 2050, according to a new report from the Pew Research Center.

The projected change in global religious population from 2010 to 2050. Credit: Pew Research Center.

The report, titled The Future of World Religions: Population Growth Projections, 2010-2050, predicts that the number of Muslims will rise from 1.6 billion to 2.76 billion by 2050, while Christianity will grow from 2.17 to 2.92 billion by the same year.

In terms of global percentage, Christians will remain steady at 31.4 percent while Muslims will grow from 23.2 percent to 29.7 percent. The report cites high fertility rates among Muslims and increasing secularism among Christians as the main drivers of this change. Most of the worldwide growth in both faiths is expected to occur in Sub-Saharan Africa.

In the United States, Christianity will decline from more than three-quarters of the population to just two-thirds by 2050, as part of an overall decline in religion and increasing secularism. At the same time, Judaism will no longer be the second largest non-Christian faith in the U.S., with Muslims eclipsing Judaism by 2050, although both faiths will remain only a small percentage of the overall American population.

Despite losing its status as the second largest non-Christian faith, Judaism is expected to grow globally by 16 percent by 2050, increasing the Jewish population from 13.86 million to 16 million. Driving this growth will be the Jewish population in Israel, which is projected to pass the U.S. and become home to the largest Jewish community in the world by a sizable margin of 51 percent in Israel to 37 percent in North America. As such, Judaism is expected to slightly decline in North America from 6.04 million to 5.92 million. Jewish populations in Europe, Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa are also expected to decline.

However, despite concern over the growing population of Muslims in Europe, fears of Islamic extremism and integration problems, the report predicts that the percentage of Muslims will only rise from 6 percent to 10 percent by 2050 due to lowering fertility rates among Muslim immigrants. 

Posted on April 3, 2015 .