Islam Fastest Growing Religion, Set to Outpace Christianity: Pew

(Photo: Reuters/Rebecca Cook)A group of interdenominational religious leaders and their supporters gather outside the Islamic Center of America mosque to rally for peace in Dearborn, Michigan, April 21, 2011.

Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world and is set to outpace Christianity.

Pew Research released a report Monday that shows Islam is on the rise worldwide, and if current demographic trends continue to hold, Muslims will not only outnumber Christians by the end of this century, but are the only group projected to grow faster than the global population as a whole.

As of 2010, Muslims comprised approximately 25 percent of the world's population and, largely because of high birth rates, will by the year 2050 comprise 10 percent of the European population. India is also expected to surpass Indonesia in having the largest Muslim population, and Muslims will outnumber Jews in the United States.

"Around the world, each Muslim woman has an average of 3.1 children, compared with 2.3 for all other groups combined," according to the report.

As the Muslim population increases in the U.S., Americans' attitude toward Islam — and religion more generally — is shifting, particularly as political debates center on Muslim migration to Europe, the U.S. and Canada, and concerns about radical Islamic terror groups.

In the U.S., according to Pew, "Republicans are more likely than Democrats to say they are very concerned about extremism in the name of Islam around the world, 67 percent versus 40 percent, and in the U.S. 64 percent versus 30 percent. In addition, a December 2016 survey found that more Republicans than Democrats say Islam is likelier than other religions to encourage violence among its believers, 70 percent versus 26 percent of Democrats." 

The Christian Post reported last month that while the likability of Muslims among all Americans rose from 40 to 48 percent from 2014 to 2016, Muslims also remained the most distrusted religious group, along with atheists.

Westerners' perceptions of Muslims has remained mixed.

A Pew survey released in 2011 noted: "A median of 50 percent [of respondents] across four Western European countries, the U.S. and Russia called Muslims violent and a median of 58 percent called them 'fanatical,' but fewer used negative words like greedy, immoral or selfish. A median of just 22 percent of Westerners said Muslims are respectful of women, but far more said Muslims are honest, median of 51 percent, and generous, 41 percent." 

In countries with smaller Muslim populations, like the U.S., Pew found that much of the public remains largely ignorant about Islam. A study released in 2010 found that over half of Americans surveyed said they don't know much or anything about Islam or its practices. About a third said they know a little about the religion, and less than 10 percent say they know a great deal.

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