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Christianity shifts to Africa.

WITH 2.18 BILLION ADHERENTS, Christianity has become a truly global religion over the past century as rapid growth in developing nations offset declines in Christianity's traditional strongholds, according to the "Global Christianity" report released by the Washington-based Pew Research Center in December.

Findings illustrate major shifts since 1910, when two-thirds of the world's Christians lived in Europe. Now only one in four Christians live in Europe. Most of the rest are distributed across the Americas (37 per cent), sub-Saharan Africa (24 per cent) and the Asia-Pacific region (13 percent).

The report confirms Christianity's standing as the world's largest religion, with 32 per cent of the global population. Islam is second with about 23 per cent, according to a 2009 Pew report.

A close look at the details reveals a few ironies.

Although Christianity traces its beginnings to the Middle East and North Africa, only four per cent of residents in these regions claim the Christian faith today.

But the faith has exploded exponentially in sub-Saharan Africa, from just nine per cent of the population in 1910 to 63 per cent today. Nigeria, home to more than 80 million Christians, has more Protestants than Germany, where the Protestant Reformation began.

The report also sheds light on the difficult question of how many Chinese are Christians. China's policies on religion are thought to discourage Christians from self-identifying as such in official surveys. Researchers estimate the Christian community in China includes five per cent of the population, or 67 million people.
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Title Annotation:World News
Publication:Presbyterian Record
Geographic Code:60SUB
Date:Feb 1, 2012
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