NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Rise of Christianity in the Third World

January 8, 2003

Pennsylvania State University Professor Philip Jenkins argues persuasively in "The Next Christendom: The Rise of Global Christianity" that Christianity, more than Islam, will shape the world's rapidly growing parts. Consider this data:

  • Ghana has more Presbyterians than Scotland, Nigeria has more Anglicans than Britain, and China soon will have more Christians than all but six nations.
  • By 2025, 67 percent of Christians will live in Africa, Latin America or Asia.
  • By 2050, the world will have three Christians for every two Muslims.
  • By 2050, a third of Latinos and Asians will come from Christian backgrounds.

Looking at Catholic believers, in particular, Jenkins says that by 2025, 75 percent of all Catholics will live in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

The growth of Christianity in the Third World has important political and social implications. For instance, religion, and not the state, could unify Third World residents. Jenkins points out that churches already are providing services where governments don't.

Source: William McKenzie, "Religion sweeps by nationalism," Dallas Morning News, January 7, 2003.


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