At one newspaper where I used to work, a co-worker was a Seventh-day Adventist whose chief mission in life seemed to be getting his wife pregnant. As his tribe went from four to five to six kids, the editors I worked with kept on teasing him about his growing brood.
He would joke back at us, saying his family would be taking over the world in contrast to us, all of whom (at the time) were childless.
Progeny was power, he said. His genes would live on.
Which is why I found the latest Pew Research Center findings highly interesting. Because Muslims are having more babies than any other world religion, Pew reported last week, their numbers should reach parity with the world’s Christians by mid-century. In other words, both groups will contain some 3 billion adherents.
Pew’s report came out of the same data dump that provided the basis for a 2015 report (which co-getreligionista Ira Rifkin reported on here) with added facts about births and deaths among the various religions and extrapolations to 2060 instead of 2050. And, like its report two years ago, it omitted statistics about China, which Ira faulted them for. China contains one-fifth of the world’s population, so that’s a big gap.
The latest Pew report lists the unaffiliated at 1.2 billion, which is larger than any religious group other than Christians and Muslims. Many of those unaffiliated are assumed to be in China, but if it’s true that China is on the way to being the world’s most Christian nation, then Pew’s data is already skewed.
I had to get to a footnote at the bottom of the report before Pew admitted its uncertainty about China. Anyway, I surveyed how the world’s media responded to the Pew findings and it was amazing how each played to its audience. The cleverest piece I found was in Christianity Today which made the demographics-is-destiny argument.