The number of Christians as a percentage of the global population declined ever so slightly over the past 20 years, according to a report published Jan. 3 by the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary.
While Christians saw a 1.19% increase worldwide from 2000 to 2020, the number of Christians as a percentage of the global population declined by 0.01%, as the global population increased by 1.20% during the same time period.
The decline as a percentage of the total population continues a century-long trend that the center expects to see reverse course in the decades to come.
In 1900, 34.5% of the world’s population affiliated with Christianity. The next 100 years saw that figure drop to 33.2% by 1970, to 32.4% by 2000 and to 32.3% by 2020.
Moving forward, affiliated Christians as a percentage of the population should increase slightly, according to the center, rising to 32.5% by 2025 and to 35% by 2050.
While all Christian groups experienced an increase in total adherents in the past 20 years, the highest percentage increase was among independent Christians in Latin America (2.31%) followed closely by independent Christians in Africa (2.25%) and in Oceania (2.04%).
The smallest percentage increase was among Orthodox Christians (0.63%), followed closely by unaffiliated Christians (0.64%) and Roman Catholics (0.96%).
In the past two decades, Muslims saw the highest percentage increase (1.93%), followed by Sikhs (1.70%), and Hindus (1.29%).
The lowest percentage increase was seen among New Religionists (0.20%), atheists (0.22%) and Chinese folk-religionists (0.41%).
The continent of Africa saw the greatest increase in Christian affiliation (rising 2.86%), followed by Asia (1.53%), Latin America (1.15%), Oceania (0.76%) and North America (0.35%).
Europe, including Russia, saw no statistically significant change.
The full report is available here.