Tuesday, 25 November 2014

How World Religion Affects Everyone

I've lately taken a keep interest in religion around the world in the past few weeks. With all the religious infighting going on in the middle east, not to mention at home, I thought it would be interesting to ply further into the demographics and social breakdowns.

It doesn't matter whether or not you're a religious person, the statistics are still fascinating. It's well known that religion affects all of our lives around the world. Religion unfortunately has always been the number one cause of strife in our history. You can't escape the ramifications of faith. History has taught us that religion is forced on those who don't want it, or people of one faith are forced under the sword to change their beliefs to another. We are seeing this right now in Syria and Iraq. ISIS is forcing conversion. The other option is death. This isn't new, every major religion throughout history has been guilty of this practise in one form or another.

It's easy to think that because there are so many people in the world that we should all just get along in our own little sphere of influence. If that happened, we would indeed become a global society, building strong economic and social bonds. We would prosper. Sadly that isn't the case. We are constantly at war with someone (globally).

Here's the facts according to the Pew Research Centre. You can read the entire report here.

Of all the sites I visited in this little adventure this site is the most comprehensive and easiest to understand without bias.

The only downfall I saw was that this information is four years old. In that time the numbers have already changed significantly. One report I saw indicated that the unaffiliated category was at 17.5%. The percentages will always change but the scope of influence will remain fairly constant.

Here's some info I found interesting by breaking the numbers down.

• Unaffiliated people are the third largest group and growing. Which means people in large numbers are turning away from organized religion even though they may identify with one other group.
• 76% of all people of faith reside in the Asia-Pacific region.
• 63% of Muslims live in this region and only 20% in the Middle East.
• Israel is the only country where Judaism is the majority.
• Muslims are the youngest group, Judaism is the oldest in terms of median age of followers.
• 50% of the world's Christians are Roman Catholic, or 15.75% of the world's population.
• One 1% of the middle east is Christian
• The largest Christian population (531,280,000) reside in Central and South America and the Caribbean.
• 87-90% of Muslims are Sunni, only 10-13% are Shia.
• Varying percentages of unaffiliated people still attend services sporadically, just not enough to call themselves religious. This ranges from 7% in France to 44% in China.
• 76% of unaffiliated people reside in the Asia-Pacific region.
• 99% of Hindus live in the Asia-Pacific region but they only make up 25% of the total in that region.
• Less than 1% of Buddhists live outside the Asia-Pacific region.
• Folk religions, faiths associated with tribal or ethnicity, are defined by not having any formal creed of sacred texts. This makes them the most difficult to narrow down and obtain data on.
• Folk religions often incorporate elements of the dominant religious beliefs in any one area.
• There are only about 25 millions Sikhs worldwide.
• The largest Jewish population in the world is in North America at 44% of the total.

These points are only a small portion of the information provided by the study. 

So it doesn't matter if you are a person of faith or not, we live in a faith based world. Even those who claim not to believe still believe. Religion is pervasive and dynamic. It bonds us together or can tear us apart. It doesn't matter who you are, you're affected.

At the end of the day the only questions you have to ask about faith is, how do 7.2 billion people get along? How can we live in peace? And most importantly, why do people have the need to wipe other faiths out? The answer to all three questions is we never will.


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