If you are wondering about most popular religions in the world, you are in the right place to find the answer.
Religion is closely connected to the term “faith” that is in this case defined as belief based on spiritual understanding rather than belief based on proof. There are many classifications of religions but one of the simplest classifies them into three broad groups: international religions, indigenous religions, and new religious movements. International religions are ones that have followers all around the world and are considered transcultural like Christianity or Islam. Religions associated with a specific ethnic group or nation like Judaism are considered to be indigenous religions. New religious movements refer to the newly established religions like Scientology and Pastafarianism.
The latter one is particularly interesting. Pastafarianism or Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster started off as a satirical response to the fact that Kansas State Board of Education allowed teaching intelligent design in school as an alternative to teaching evolution. It teaches that Flying Spaghetti Monster created the Earth and bunch of other things. Of course, the internet community is always eager to try new things, so Pastafarianism turned into real internet phenomenon and became officially recognized as a religion in New Zealand and the Netherlands. If you are interested in learning about growing religions check out our list of 5 Fastest Growing Religions in Europe and the World.
According to The Global Religious Landscape study and report from Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, 84% of world’s population was affiliated with some religion in 2010. That leaves us with 16% or 1.1 billion people in the world population that aren’t affiliated with any religion. If we were to consider them a religious group, they would be third in size. It is important to note that among these 1.1 billion are also people who have some religious beliefs but they don’t consider themselves adherents of a religion. China is home to the largest number of religiously unaffiliated people with their number being 700 million.
In order to find out which are the most popular religions in the world, we consulted previously mentioned a study from Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life and ranked the religions according to the number of adherents. The study used surveys, around 2,500 national censuses, and population registers to find out the size and geographical distribution of major religions and religious groups including the religiously unaffiliated. Although the study mostly concentrated on major religions, the accompanying report contains information about the size of other religions taken from The World Religion Database and other sources. Taking into consideration the lack of other credible sources, this study is the best indicator of how popular are particular religions in the world. Now, let’s check out our list of most popular religions in the world.