Monday, July 23, 2007

Map of world religions


Here's a very well-done map of the world's religion.

In looking it over, do you find anything that you didn't expect?

Some of the things that surprised me...
* How few atheists there are
* Which regions do *not* have a dominant religion
* How far down into Africa Islam extends

17 comments:

Nate Loucks said...

I'd like to know how accurate the numbers are in an area like China that doesn't document a person's religion. I've read articles that say the church in China is the fastest growing in the world and will be the predominant religion in China by 2020.

Michael Kruse said...

I was surprised by one thing: They have Christians in CT? :)

Scott said...

It appears there may up to 150 million Christians in China. Even if we generously round up to 200 million Christians, that would only come out to 15% of China's 1.3 billion people. This map accurately reflects the situation in China today.

Brad Wright said...

Nate & Scott, interesting ideas about China... An eastern (rather than western) based church would be most interesting (and probably healthy).

The numbers remind me of a saying I read once, that in China if you say somebody is "one in a million", you're telling them that there are thousands of people just like them.

Michael, CT is certainly not a Christian hotbed! Makes us glad that a good church is nearby--can't take them for granted.

Ben said...

Thanks for the map. Since I am in Kenya, my focus was obviously on Africa. I don't have the statistics right in front of me, but I think Kenya would consider itself very Christian (somewhere near 80%). Maybe the problem with this kind of map in Africa is that many people consider themselves Christian AND adherents of the indigenous religion. [But that could turn into a long theological discussion of its own about the "either/or"]. The same probably goes for all of Central Africa, which I would dare say from my own experience is far more "Christian" than those showing "majority Christian." Maybe it was just too close to call in Zambia.

Ray Fowler said...

Great map, Brad. Thanks for psoting this. I notice there is a lot of yellow up here in our northeast region of the U.S. which is certainly true of the area in which I live.

Drek said...

Really? You're surprised at how few atheists there are? I'm not. Granted, however, I'm very curious how the data were gathered. There's a lot of social pressure against admitting to being an atheist as we're not very well-liked.

But hey, we're feisty!

Brad Wright said...

Ben, you make a good point about definitions of Christianity and its mixture of indigenous religions. It points out that the map, almost out of necessity, over-simplifies and that the same color can mean different things in different places.

Ray, I was a bit surprised by the yellow Connecticut... I think of it as mainly mainline Christian.

Drek, you bring up a good point about "Atheist" being difficult to measure, and subject to social desirability effects. Given atheists being "feisty" maybe they command a disproportionate amount of public space and thus appear to be more numerous than they are.

S.S.Stone said...

Interesting seeing Canada- I'm surprised there are more RC in Quebec than south western Ontario and wow to Protestants dominating the west.

Drek said...

Given atheists being "feisty" maybe they command a disproportionate amount of public space and thus appear to be more numerous than they are.

I suspect they may appear more numerous to you because you're in academia, where there are an unusually large number of atheists and agnostics. I don't think atheists command a disproportionate amount of the public space, though. It may seem that way right now because of the attention Dawkins et al. have been receiving but, when balanced against just the "Trinity Broadcast Network" much less the deluge of religious speech and communication that emerges in every form of media every day... I'd be frankly surprised if atheists controlled even 2.4% of the "public space."

Dan Myers said...

I have a very hard time seeing how atheists could be disproportionately represented in the mass media. Other than Richard Dawkins, who are the big atheist media darlings? Doesn't just about every single important political figure in this country claim to be a religious person? Lots of other religious people may be doing things in their public roles that might not be religious, but that doesn't mean they are atheists, and in fact, the vast majority of them aren't.

Brad Wright said...

Drek and Dan, I think there is a rich story here about the presence of religion and atheism in public space, and it varies a lot by which space.

You're right Dan that politicians are uniformily religious, especially come election time.

Still, I think that in other arenas there's an assumption of atheism, or, at least of non-religion. Do a Digg search for the word "religion" and see what you get.

Hollywood movies rarely show Christian faith in a positive light.

Etc...

This would make for an interesting blog series some times.

Anonymous said...

The most famous and influential atheists include Alan Greenspan and Warren Buffett. There is no need to be liked in these cases, only to do your job well whether than be financially managing the country or your investors' funds.

Anonymous said...

it's been a while that christianity is the most dominant religion in Korea...

Peter said...

I'm from the orange part from India. The right one could be extended upward a little more.. And it will be more accurate to mark them as Protestants instead of the Orange color, because the majorities are Baptists and Presbyterians in this part of the world.

Saif said...

The bottom line is that majority of Muslims and Hindus live in the poorest countries, meanwhile majority of Christians live in the most prosperous countries.

Brad Wright said...

Interesting... thank you for the comments.