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Islam Global Numbers To Overtake Christianity By 2070

According to a Pew Research Center report, Islam will overtake Christianity as the world's largest religion by 2070.

While Christianity is expected to grow by 35 percent between 2010 and 2050, Islam is predicted to expand by 73 percent, reports The Telegraph.

The analysis predicts that by 2070, if Islam continues to grow at the same rate it is right now, there will be more Muslims in the world than Christians.

Coming in at a close third is Hinduism, whose followers are expected to increase by 34 percent between 2010 and 2050. That is only one percent less than Christianity, meaning Christians will be hard-pressed just to keep pace with the next runner-up.

In contrast, research indicates that Islamic numbers are actually increasing faster than that of the entire global population.

Yet, a primary reason for Islam's rapid increase may be biological rather than ideological: more Muslims are in their childbearing years than Christians, while Muslim women tend to have slightly more children.

Many Christians are meanwhile expected to leave Christianity behind to convert to other faiths or even give up religion altogether.

"Over the coming decades, Christians are expected to experience the largest net losses from switching," the study reads. "Globally, about 40 million people are projected to switch into Christianity, while 106 million are projected to leave, with most joining the ranks of the religiously unaffiliated."

The latter non-religious group,  however, may end up becoming even more of a minority though -- at least in areas that are not North America or Europe.

Agnostics, atheists and other non-religious groups are predicted to decline from 16.4 percent to 13.2 percent of the global population by 2050.

At the same time, other religions will be on the rise.

"With the exception of Buddhists, all of the world’s major religious groups are poised for at least some growth in absolute numbers in the coming decades," the study reads.

However, the situation will be very different in North America.

"The country is becoming less religious as a whole, and it’s happening across the board," said Alan Cooperman, director of religion research for the Pew Research Center, about the U.S., reports The Washington Post.

While millennials help explain the change to an extent, even those who are older are becoming non-religious, startling some.

"There’s a continuing religious disaffiliation among older cohorts," said Greg Smith, associate director of research at the Pew Research Center. "That is really striking. I continue to be struck by the pace at which the unaffiliated are growing."

Sources: The Telegraph, Pew Research CenterThe Washington Post / Photo Credit: Wolfgang Stuck/Wikimedia Commons

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