WHICH IS THE FASTEST GROWING RELIGION?

(Investigator 191, 2020 March)







INTRODUCTION

We're going to compare the worldwide increase rates of five large, long-established religions.

We'll consider the Assemblies of God (AoG), Jehovah's Witnesses (JWs), Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists (SDAs), and Roman Catholics.

The AoG, founded in 1914, is the world's largest Pentecostal group. It believes in the supernatural inspiration of the Bible; Christ's crucifixion making atonement for sins; baptism by immersion; the return of Christ to reign on Earth; "speaking in tongues"; and divine healing.

JWs began as the "Russellites" founded in 1879 by Charles Taze Russell (1852-1916) after he separated from an Adventist group known as the Advent Christian Church. Russell's successor Joseph F. Rutherford (1869-1942), a former Baptist, came up with the name "Jehovah's witnesses" in 1931.

The Mormon Church officially began in 1830, founded by Joseph Smith (1805-1844), and later adopted the name "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints".

The SDA's developed out of the "great disappointment" of 1844 when predictions of Christ's return failed and various cults developed out of the failure. Ellen. G. White (1827-1915) became the prophet of one group which in 1860 adopted the name "Seventh Day Adventists". 


STATISTICS EXPLAINED

Different religions define membership differently:

•    The AoG distinguish "Members" from "Adherents". The latter outnumber the members and are "all persons who consider an AG church to be their home." Table 1 excludes adherents in countries "not considered mission fields".

•    JWs take monthly counts of people who preach (usually door to door) and submit a report-slip of their activity. These they call "publishers". An Annual Report on the JW website lists the "peak publishers" for each year and the "average publishers" for the 12 months. JWs also take a count of the attendance at their annual "Memorial" of Christ's death which everyone interested tries to attend.

•    SDAs and Catholics count "Baptized members" and Mormons "Baptized and confirmed".

The accompanying statistical tables rely on official reports published by each denomination. These differ from government censuses, the Pew Research Centre and World Christian Database. The AoG have a website on statistics by "The General Council of the Assemblies of God." JWs formerly produced yearbooks but now place an annual chart on their official website. Mormon statistics appear in Wikipedia. SDAs upload a very detailed Annual Statistical Report to the Internet. The Roman Catholic Church has the Pontifical Yearbook compiled by the Vatican's Central Office of Church Statistics.


Table 1
Worldwide Statistics 1900 to 2019 (To nearest 1,000)


  AoG
Adherents
JWs
Peak
JWs
Memorial
Mormons
SDAs
1900

c.2,000
3,000
284,000
75,000
1910

c.4,000
11,000
398.000
105,000
1920

8,000
22.000
526.000
185,000
1930

48,000
30,000
670,000
314,000
1940

95,000
97,000
863,000
505,000
1950

373,000
511,000
1,111,000
757,000
1960

916,000
1,520,000
1,693,000
1,245,000
1970

1,483,000
3,226,000
2,931,000
2,052,000
1980

2,272,000 5,727,000 4,640,000 3,481,000
1990
23,771,000 4,017,000 9,950,000 7,761,000 6,694,000
2000
38,229,000 6,636,000 14,872,000 11,069,000 11,687,000
2010
58,730,000 7,508,000 18,707,000 14,131,000 16,923,000
2011
60,231,000 7,659,000 19,375,000 14,441,000 17,480,000
2012
61,316,000 7,782,000 19,013,000 14,782,000 17,881,000
2013
62,161,000 7,966,000 19,241,000 15,082,000 18,144,000
2014
61,958,000 8,202,000 19,950,000 15,372,000 18,479,000
2015
63,524,000   8,220,000 19,863,000 15,634,000 19,126,000
2016
64,027,000 8,341,000 20,085,000 15,882,000 20,009,000
2017
64,601,000 8,457,000 20,175,000 16,118,000 20,727,000
2018

8,580,000 20,329,000 16,314,000 21,415,000
2019

8,683,000 20,919,000

                  
                                                                                              
  Table 2
Catholics Worldwide (in Millions)
         
1900
266
1990
928.5
2013
1,254
1910 291 2000 1,045 2014 1,272
1950 437 2010 1,195 2015 1,285
1970 654 2011 c.1,210 2016 1,299
1980 784 2012 1,229 2017 1,313
         

Table 3
Percent Increase Calculated from Tables 1 & 2


1990 to 2000 2000 to 2010   2010 to 2017
AoG
60.8% 53.6%
10.0%
JWs Peak
65.2% 13.2% 12.5%
JWs Memorial
49.5% 25.8% 7.8%
Mormons
42.6% 27.7%    14.1%
SDAs
74.6% 44.8% 22.5%
Catholics
12.5% 12.6% 9.9%
       
       
Table 4
Increase 1990-2017


1990
2017
% Increase
AoG
23,771,000 64,601,000 171.8%
JWs Peak
4,017,000 8,457,000 110.5%
JWs Memorial
9,950,000 20,175,000 107.6%
Mormons
7,761,000 16,118,000 107.7%
SDAs
6,694,000 20,727,000 209.6%
Catholics
928.5 million 1,313 million 41.4%
World Population
5,300 million 7,550 million 42.5%
                   
          
DISCUSSION

In absolute numbers Roman Catholicism excels as the fastest increasing religion (Table 2); but its percentage growth is slightly below world-population growth. (Table 4).

Percentage-wise the other four religions consistently outpaced world population growth between 1990 and 2017.

JWs show signs of leveling out. Their "peak publishers" increased 2½milllion 1990-2000 but only 2 million in the next 19 years. JWs, however, have the most stringent membership requirement — people need to actively promote the faith. If we compare other religions by this criterion JWs would probably stand out as the world's biggest religion. Many inactive JWs also reactivate whenever a prophesied date is near or traumatic world events remind them of their doctrine of Armageddon.

Table 3 shows the percentage growth of the five religions during two 10-year periods and a 7-year period. The AoG came first in 2000-2010; the SDA's came first in 1990-2000 and in 2010-2017.

Calculating a single percentage for each religion covering the entire period 1990 to 2017 (Table 4) reveals the SDAs as clear winner.



WEBSITES:

http://agchurches.org/About/Statistics

http://theologicalmatters.com/2014/06/19/the-assemblies-of-god-the-worldwide-growth-of-pentecostalism/.htm

https://cara.georgetown.edu/staff/webpages/Global Catholicism Release.pdf

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decline_of_Christianity

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Church_of_Jesus_Christ_of_Latter-day_Saints_membership_history.htm

https://www.jw.org/en/

https://labs.time.com/story/catholic-population/
BS
 

http://users.adam.com.au/bstett/

http://ed5015.tripod.com/