The Muslim population in the United States is projected to more than double by 2030, according to a new Pew Forum report.
There are about 2.6 million Muslim adults and children in the United States (0.8 percent of the U.S. population) in 2010. That figure is expected to rise to 6.2 million (1.7 percent) in 2030, predicted the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life report released Thursday.
Most of the growth will be due to immigration and higher birth rates among Muslims. Christians are, however, expected to still make up by far the majority of the population. But by 2030, Muslims are predicted to be as numerous as Jews or Episcopalians are in the United States today.
"The Muslim population will double in the U.S., but the report cannot indicate what portion of the spectrum of Islam will be practiced by American Muslims," pointed out Pastor Joel C. Hunter of Northland, A Church Distributed in Central Florida, to The Christian Post.
"Muslims, like Christians, are not a uniform block of believers. The bridges built or burned between Christianity, Islam, and other religions are likely to profoundly affect its expression in this nation and around the world."
Hunter was a member of President Obama's Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and served on the Inter-Religious Cooperation taskforce. He is also on the board of the National Association of Evangelicals.
"The Future of the Global Muslim Population" report also predicts that the Muslim population worldwide will increase by 35 percent, or from 1.6 billion in 2010 to 2.2 billion by 2030.
This means that the worldwide Muslim population would be growing about twice the rate of the non-Muslim population. Based on this prediction, Muslims would make up slightly more than a quarter (26.4 percent) of the world's total projected population of 8.3 billion in 2030. In 2010, Muslims make up 23.4 percent of the world's population of 6.9 billion.
Notably, the report predicts that Pakistan will surpass Indonesia as the country that is home to the largest Muslim population by 2030. Most of the world's Muslims (about 60 percent) will still be located in the Asia-Pacific region, while about 20 percent will live in the Middle East and North Africa, which are similar proportions to today.
Although the population of Muslims will grow in Europe and the Americas, they are predicted to remain small minorities in the two regions. The United States is projected to have a larger Muslim population by 2030 than any European countries with the exception of Russia and France, although other European countries may have higher percentages of Muslims. Russia is projected to have the largest Muslim population in 2030 with 18.6 million of the religion's followers.
Overall, Muslims are expected to make up about eight percent of Europe's total population by 2030, up from six percent in 2010. In the United Kingdom, Muslims are projected to comprise 8.2 percent of the population in 2030, up from 4.5 percent today. And in Austria, 9.3 percent of the population is projected to be Muslims, a rise from 5.7 percent in 2010; in France, 10.3 percent from 7.5 percent, and in Belgium 10.2 percent from 6 percent.
Interestingly, nearly a quarter (23.2 percent) of Israel's population is expected to be Muslims by 2030, up from 17.7 percent in 2010 and 14.1 percent in 1990. During the past two decades, the Muslim population in Israel has more than doubled, increasing from 0.6 million in 1990 to 1.3 million in 2010.
"[This] report will give fodder to the alarmists and will be underplayed by those who just think sociological patterns are interesting," commented Pastor Joel C. Hunter. "The call for Christians to evangelize the world remains the same no matter what other religious populations are doing, but this development will likely stimulate attention to our growth or lack thereof."
The Florida megachurch pastor predicted that with the growing effort to expunge religion from society, evangelicals and the growing Muslim population will find themselves partnering on many moral issues in the public square.
The comprehensive 209-page report contains details of different factors that are predicted to contribute to the changes expected in the Muslim population around the world.
On the web: The Future of the Global Muslim Population