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Religion, faith and the role they play today | The Economist

Religion and faith are an integral part of people’s lives worldwide. But in many countries the number of people who believe in God is in decline. We examine the changing role of religion around the world

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The majority of Americans believe in God. But it’s a different story in Britain where, in 2009, people of no religion outnumbered Christian’s for the first time.

And it’s not the only country where religion is in decline.

In Israel, only 39% of the population consider themselves a religious person. In Norway it’s 30%, in Japan just 13%. But China surpasses them all.

Only 9% of Chinese people report themselves as being religious and the majority say they are committed atheists, making China the least religious country in the world.

But how reliable are the polls in China?

The communist government is officially atheist and religious freedom is restricted in the country. So it’s likely that many Chinese people, who hold religious beliefs, do not report it.

But, globally the picture is very different.

84% of the world’s population say they are affiliated to a religious group.

Around 7% are Buddhist.
15% are Hindu.
24% are Muslim.

But the largest religious group are Christian, making up nearly a third of the world’s 7.5 billion people. But this is set to change. It’s predicted there will be almost as many Muslim’s as Christians by 2050.

This is because Muslims on average are younger than members of other religions, and they have more children. This has made Islam the fastest growing religion in the world.

The religious profile of the world is changing, but even in areas where religious affiliation is declining, spirituality is not.

America has become less religious in recent years, but the percentage of non-religious Americans who say they often feel spiritual has risen. Globally 15% of atheists believe in life after death – So if faith deserts you here, there’s always the hereafter.

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The Economist offers authoritative insight and opinion on international news, politics, business, finance, science, technology and the connections between them.
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