Brian Grim is a Senior Researcher and Director of Cross-National Date at the prestigious «Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life» in Washington DC. His accurate researches on religious freedom, fundamentalism, demographics and religious persecution in the worldhave had a great echo in the media and analytical and academic material are very important for Governments and for the United Nations. It is very important, for «Sintesi Dialettica», address these issues not from a point of view, or according to an ideological attitude. So we believe that, through the valuable contribution of Grim, we can inform – second freedom of thought and training – real readers on such topics on which you know unfortunately usually very little, and they are almost always addressed with prejudice.

It is very important, for «Sintesi Dialettica», address these issues not from a point of view, or according to an ideological attitude. So we believe that, through the valuable contribution of Grim, we can inform – second freedom of thought and training – real readers on such topics on which you know unfortunately usually very little, and they are almost always addressed with prejudice.

Doctor Grim, let me start with some statistics about the major religious groups. Of course, I am going to ask a question that requires considerable specifications, but to start I would proceed to large numbers. How many are in the world , Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists?

We live in a world where more than eight-in-ten people follow a religion. And many of the rest have some religious beliefs or engage in some religious practices. The Pew Research Center’s recent demographic study, The Global Religious Landscape – based on analysis of more than 2,500 censuses, surveys and population registers – finds 2.2 billion Christians (32% of the world’s population), 1.6 billion Muslims (23%), 1 billion Hindus (15%), nearly 500 million Buddhists (7%) and 14 million Jews (0.2%) around the world as of 2010.

Brian Grim

Among Christians, how many are Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox? And what, in numerical terms and groups, the distinctions between the Muslims?

About half of all Christians are Catholic (50%). An estimated 37% of Christians belong to the Protestant tradition, broadly defined to include Anglicans as well as independent andnondenominational churches. The Orthodox Communion, including the Greek and Russian Orthodox, make up 12% of Christians. Muslims number 1.6 billion, representing 23% of all people world wide. There are two major branches of Islam – Sunni and Shia. The overwhelming majority (87-90%) of Muslims are Sunnis; about 10-13% are Shia Muslims.

How many are atheists and agnostics, and where especially? I would like to underst and how many people, world wide, profess a religion and how many do not profess a religion. And what scenarios you are configuring, even compared to secularism in Europe.

We estimate that there are 5.8 billion religiously affiliated adults and children around the globe, representing 84% of the 2010 world population of 6.9 billion. The religiously unaffiliated number 1.1 billion, accounting for about one-in-six (16%) people world wide. The religiously unaffiliated include atheists, agnostics and people who do not identify with any particular religion in surveys. However, many of the religiously unaffiliated have some religious beliefs. For example, belief in God or a higher power is shared by 7% of Chinese unaffiliated adults, 30% of French unaffiliated adults and 68% of unaffiliated U.S. adults. Some of the unaffiliated also engage in certain kinds of religious practices. For example, 7% of unaffiliated adults in France and 27% of those in the United States say they attend religious services at least once a year. And in China, 44% of unaffiliated adults say they have worshiped at a graveside or tomb in the past year.

The religiously unaffiliated are heavily concentrated in Asia and the Pacific, where more than three-quarters (76%) of the world ’s unaffiliated population resides. The remainder is in Europe (12%), North America (5%), Latin America and the Caribbean (4%), sub-Saharan Africa (2%) and the Middle East and North Africa (less than 1%).

What is the religious situation in China? There is still “ atheism of State”?

Just three decades ago, few researchers even within mainland China knew whether religion had survived the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) initiated by Chairman Mao Zedong. It is clear now, however, that religion not only survived but that hundreds of millions of Chinese today have some religious faith. In total, some religion is followed by 640 million people in China – 48% of the total population – while 700 million have no particular faith. But as I’ve mentioned, even among the religiously unaffiliated in China, many still engage in some religious practices.

Some 244 million people in China adhere to Buddhism, making China home to half of the world ’s 488 million Buddhists. 68 million Christians live in China, making China home to the world ’s seventh largest Christian population. China’s approximately 25 million Muslims constitute the world ’s 17th largest Muslim population, right after Saudi Arabia (#16) andbefore Yemen (#18).

The general consensus among scholars of religion in China is that religious affiliation has grown substantially during the past three decades. It is too soon to know, however, whether religion’s growth has peaked or will continue. Whichever turns out to be the case, the religious future of the world’s most populous nation will have a major impact on the religious future of the world.

Doctor Grim, daily news arrive of persecution and massacres. What is the most persecuted religious group? And for what reasons? Fundamentalism, for the interests of power, use religion?

During the latest year covered in our restrictions on religion study, the Rising Tide of Restrictions on Religion, there was an increase in harassment or intimidation of particular religious groups. Five of the seven major religious groups monitored by the study – Jews, Christians, Buddhists, adherents of folk or traditional religions, and members of other worldreligions – experienced four-year highs in the number of countries in which they were harassed by national, provincial or local governments, or by individuals or groups in society. Overall between 2006 and 2010, Christians were harassed in 139 countries, Muslims in 121, Jews in 85, Folk religionists in 43, Hindus in 30, Buddhists in 21, and other faiths in 72 countries.

Some religious groups were more likely to be harassed by governments, while others were more likely to be harassed by individuals or groups in society. Christians, for example, were harassed by government officials or organizations in 95 countries in the year ending in mid- 2010 and by social groups or individuals in 77 countries. Muslims also were more likely to be harassed by governments (74 countries) than by social groups or individuals (64 countries). Jews, by contrast, experienced social harassment in many more countries (64) than they faced government harassment (21).

Doctor Grim, is recent study «Pew Forum» demography in the Muslim world. Could you talk about it? What scenarios provides?

The world’s Muslim population is expected to increase by about 35% in the next 20 years, rising from 1.6 billion in 2010 to 2.2 billion by 2030, according to new population projections by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life. Globally, the Muslim population is forecast to grow at about twice the rate of the non-Muslim population over the next two decades – an average annual growth rate of 1.5% for Muslims, compared with 0.7% for non-Muslims. If current trends continue, Muslims will make up 26.4% of the world’s total projected population of 8.3 billion in 2030, up from 23.4% of the estimated 2010 world population of 6.9 billion.

While the global Muslim population is expected to grow at a faster rate than the non-Muslim population, the Muslim population nevertheless is expected to grow at a slower pace in the next two decades than it did in the previous two decades. From 1990 to 2010, the global Muslim population increased at an average annual rate of 2.2%, compared with the projected rate of 1.5% for the period from 2010 to 2030.

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