The results of a new study show a changing global landscape when it comes to religion, with Christians and Muslims projected to have nearly the same number of followers by 2050.
The Pew Research Center study
also shows a startling figure for Christians: More than 106 million people are projected to leave the faith between 2010 and 2050, with only 40 million expected to enter. That's a net loss of 66 million people.
Many of the people who leave their Christian faith could be leaving religion altogether, with the projected change in religiously unaffiliated people at 61.4 million.
Christianity was the dominant religion in 2010, according to the Pew figures, with 2.1 billion followers worldwide — accounting for 31.4 percent of the world's population. That number is projected to rise to 2.9 billion by 2050, but also on the rise will be Islam.
Pew reports the number of Muslims could skyrocket from 1.5 billion in 2010 to 2.7 billion in 2050, which would account for 29.7 percent of the world's population.
Pew points to Islam's high fertility rates as one reason for its growth. Muslim women give birth to, on average, 3.1 children. Christians are second on that list with 2.7 children per woman.
Further, 34 percent of Muslims were under the age of 15 in 2010 — the highest percentage of all religions in that age group.
Looking further out, Pew predicts the number of Muslims could surpass the number of Christians sometime around 2070.
The Pew report has detailed sections about each religion, and pulls data from birth rates, migration, life expectancy, age structure, and religious switching. It was compiled over a six-year period.
Christians have suffered at the hands of Islamic terror groups in recent months, with both the Islamic State (ISIS) and Boko Haram targeting them.
Muslim migrants reportedly threw Christians overboard
during a Mediterranean voyage earlier this month, for example, while other Christians have been killed
by members of ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
Critics of the Obama administration have said President Barack Obama is not doing enough
to stop Christians from being slaughtered.
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