A century ago almost all Europeans were Christians, but today just three-quarters of the population identify themselves with that faith — and Europe is no longer the epicenter of Christianity.
A new study by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life found that the proportion of Europeans who are Christian has fallen from 95 percent in 1910 to 76 percent in 2010. In the Americas, the percentage has dropped from 96 percent to 86 percent.
In 1910, two-thirds of the world’s Christians lived in Europe. Today, only about a quarter of all Christians live in Europe, while 37 percent live in the Americas, 24 percent live in sub-Saharan Africa, and 13 percent live in Asia and the Pacific.
In raw numbers, the United States’ population of Christians grew by 190 percent over the past 100 years, from 85 million to 247 million, while Europe’s population grew by just 39 percent, from 406 million to 566 million, according to the study results released in “A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World’s Christian Population.”
Christianity has seen an explosion of new members over the past century in sub-Saharan Africa, with the share of the population that is Christian soaring from 9 percent in 1910 to 63 percent in 2010.
The study also disclosed that about half of the world’s Christians are Catholic; Protestants make up 37 percent; Orthodox Christians comprise 12 percent; other Christians, including Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses, make up 1 percent.
The United States leads all countries with nearly 247 million Christians, followed by Brazil (176 million), Mexico (108 million), Russia (105 million), and Philippines (87 million).
Rounding out the top 10 are Nigeria (81 million), China (67 million), Democratic Republic of the Congo (63 million), Germany (58 million), and Ethiopia (53 million).
Other interesting disclosures from the new report: Nigeria has more than twice as many Protestants as Germany, the birthplace of the Reformation; Brazil has more than twice as many Catholics as Italy; and just 4 percent of the population in the Middle East and North Africa are Christians.