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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

What Will Be the World’s Next Top Religion?

posted by on October 16 at 9:54 AM

Pews might be empty in some urban parts of America, but the world is witnessing a huge explosion of Christianity, says [Dipshit] D’Souza who notes Christianity as the fastest-growing religion in the world and that the number of unbelievers is actually shrinking. In America, about half of the population goes to church and an overwhelming majority believes in God. But there are also “powerful currents of secularism” in this country that counter that, the author acknowledged.
Mormonism is one of the fastest-growing religions in the world, with more than 13 million members, more than a third of those in Latin America, according to church figures…. The global surge of Mormonism has been hotly debated, with one scholar, Rodney Stark, claiming it is the fastest-growing religion in the world, rivaling Islam.
The “Muslim terrorists” that Horowitz is pointing at are an incredibly minute minority in the Muslim community worldwide. Let me add that there are approximately 1.61 billion Muslims worldwide, and that Islam is the fastest-growing religion.

They all can’t be the world’s fastest-growing religion. It seems to me that this is a job for reality teevee producers: What Will Be the World’s Next Top Religion? Devout contestants representing all the major world religions will be left on a deserted island with a large group of religious people, agnostics, and atheists. The religion that wins the most converts in, say, six months’ time wins the coveted “World’s Fastest-Growing Religion” title. No forced conversions allowed—no point of the sword stuff, Islam! And no conversions of children—no baptizing babies, Catholics, and no manipulative “teen nights,” Evangelical Christians! Points will awarded on a sliding scale: wishy-washy agnostics are worth 25 points; religious people—a.k.a. folks that already fell for it—are worth 50 points; honest-to-God atheists are worth 100 points.

And may the world’s best religion win!

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Any atheist trapped on a deserted island with a whole flock of religious people will immediately find reason to believe in Hell, and will thus immediately be converted to the first group that harasses them.

Posted by Chris in Tampa | October 16, 2007 10:06 AM

It is actually possible that two religions could claim the ambiguous mantle of "fastest growing". The Mormons could be growing at a faster rate(i.e. adding 10% a year) while Islam could be adding the most adherents each year (i.e. adding 40 million a year).

Posted by dirge | October 16, 2007 10:11 AM

The smaller your are, the easier it is to be the fastest growing. It's a kind of consolation prize. Since a high growth rate is unsustainable, the booby prize gets passed back and forth a lot.

The Stranger most of the time can award itself the title of fastest growing readership in Seattle, can it not?

Posted by elenchos | October 16, 2007 10:20 AM

Mormons have the advantage of being able to "baptize" the dead. In the past this has included Holocaust victims.

Posted by idaho | October 16, 2007 10:21 AM

God, save me from your followers!

Oh, and I'd only watch the show if that "Dark-Sided!!!!" woman from Wife Swap or Spouse Switch--or whatever its name is--was on it.

Posted by Michigan Matt | October 16, 2007 10:24 AM

OOOH, I'll totally watch if you get Tyra Banks to host it.

PS, Christianity, you totally need to lose at least 30 lbs before you could ever be considered America's Next Top Religion. This ISN'T America's Next Top PLUS-SIZED Religion.

Posted by monkey | October 16, 2007 10:30 AM

Also, Mormons are NOT allowed to baptize dead people anymore. Or if they do, those dead people are not allowed to be counted as new members of the faith.

Posted by Katelyn | October 16, 2007 10:33 AM

Based on census growth, I predict it's Jedi.

Posted by Will in Seattle | October 16, 2007 10:51 AM

Practicology! The religion created by Stan Lee.

Posted by Kim | October 16, 2007 10:56 AM

What if the believers all became atheists?

Posted by ratcityreprobate | October 16, 2007 10:59 AM

Apple fandom is clearly the world's fastest growing religion, and Steve Jobs will be the most powerful force in the universe in a few years' time.

Posted by tsm | October 16, 2007 11:00 AM

Oh yes, everyone wants to say that their religion is the "fastest growing" and thereby infer that their religion is more popular because it is the "true" religion.

Islam claims it is the fastest growing, but this is based on BIRTHRATE not actual conversions. Remember - you're Muslim if you're born into a Muslim family. They don't wait for you to accept Islam on your own. There are very, very few conversions of Westerners to Islam. I also doubt that other non-Muslims (i.e., Buddhists, Hindus, etc.) are eager to convert either. The truth is that thousands upon thousands of people leave Islam every year. But their stories aren't told and no one is keeping count. Also, most Muslims who leave Islam keep it very secret since apostasy is punished by the death penalty in Islam.

The growth of Mormonism in Latin America probably has a lot to do with the decline of Catholicism - as well as very aggressive missionary work done by the LDS church. I don't know as much about the spread of Mormonism as I do Islam, but I suspect that their conversion numbers are inflated as a matter of course.

The fastest growing "religion" in the world today is actually SECULARISM. It isn't a religion in the traditional sense, but more and more people are leaving behind the superstitions and claims of traditional religions as they come to understand more and more about the world and the role that science plays in our understanding of the world.

Posted by Jonathon | October 16, 2007 11:01 AM

Clearly, no ideology is growing faster than sheer blind Stupidity. Most of the world's people are already Stupid, and every day more Stupid people are born. Be one of us: Be Stupid.

Posted by Gurldoggie | October 16, 2007 11:13 AM

Mormons consider themselves to be Xtians, so might as well lump them together with the fundies. As to baptizing dead people by proxy, that's still major cornerstone of the religion and actively practiced. What has changed is the dudes in Salt Lake agreed a few years ago to quit performing the rite for Jews killed in the holocaust. Frankly, I don't care if they count dead bodies on their membership roles. My twenty-six grandmothers provided plenty of progeny to fill the pews.

Posted by DaiBando | October 16, 2007 12:18 PM

Argh, me hearties! Don't forget the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster!!


Posted by Pittsburgh Pirate | October 16, 2007 12:40 PM

Part of me thinks that with this post Dan is troll baiting for Issur.

Posted by 3, 2, 1... | October 16, 2007 12:48 PM

@15 - true, now THAT IS the world's fastest growing religion ...


Just look at the increase in pirates - it was on the news today, worldwide it's increasing rapidly, as the Flying Spaghetti Monster lets the pirates reduce global warming.

Someone has to do something. Luckily, we weren't made in His Image.

Posted by Will in Seattle | October 16, 2007 12:52 PM

I think the idea of "fastest growing religion" has a misleading pretext of "more people are coming around to our way of thinking". When in fact, what the numbers really mean are "members of our religion reproduce the fastest."

Posted by Dougsf | October 16, 2007 1:05 PM


Posted by dre | October 16, 2007 1:19 PM

"In America, about half of the population goes to church and an overwhelming majority believes in God."

Are these self identified believers really believers in God or believers in belief in God? Are they actually practicing or adhering to the tenents of their religion or do they have a unique "personal faith" that is loosely based on dogmatic law? Is there really any accurate measurement for what a person "believes" or do we have to take what they say to be true? I mean I know that religion is the cornerstone of morality and is thus incapable of producing liars...but come on, can't we please go back to burning people who believe in magic on the stake?

Posted by Mr. Gerbik | October 16, 2007 1:28 PM

Get on and buy yourself a copy of "How to Lie with Statistics" and you will see how I could start a religion tomorrow, bring in four followers, and be "the fastest growing religion" with a 400% growth rate in a very short period of time.

Posted by NapoleonXIV | October 16, 2007 1:53 PM
Posted by Bont | October 16, 2007 2:20 PM

It will be Jordin Sparks.

Posted by frederick r | October 16, 2007 2:57 PM

You can try prying my atheism from my cold dead hands.

Posted by K X One | October 16, 2007 6:50 PM

LoL! These idiot Christian evangelize to recruit more perverts to their cult.

Judaism believe you have to be born to a Jewish mother to be a real Jew, therefore God creates as many Jews as is needed at the time. Judaism will never be the religion of the billions of poor loosers out there slaving away in third world factories. Leave it to the Christians to try to convert those idiots.

Judaism is for those born to justice and truth. That's why there's not many Jews but we is rightous!

Posted by Issur | October 16, 2007 9:01 PM

I really like this idea, if anything it would create some level of inter-faith dialog that everybody could participate in (or at least listen to). Like so many things in todays world, religion seems to defer to stupidity and ignorance in place of curiosity, informed opinion and understanding.

A show like this would create a fair deal of controversy, leading to high ratings and at the very least get people talking about things that are never really questioned aloud in modern society. Maybe it would help us all find a common ground to meet each other on and finally stop treating other human beings like animals.

a boy can dream...

Posted by Super Jesse | October 16, 2007 9:08 PM

@16 - I was thinking the same thing.

Issur - it took you more than 11 hours to take the bait. Where have you been, you raving lunatic?

Posted by Bento | October 16, 2007 9:40 PM

In spite of the Mormon church's inflated claims, there are only 3 to 4 million people worldwide who consider themselves Mormon. This number is not increasing.

The problem is the extremely poor rate of retention of newly baptized converts coupled with defections, estimated at more than 100,000 per year, of longer-term members. Even after these folks leave they are still counted in the membership numbers. People come and go, but the church only counts the additions. As a result the official membership statistics become more and more divorced from reality over time.

Posted by CCSea | October 17, 2007 8:10 AM

@26: or they'd just go all crusades/jihad on each other and blow the island up.

Posted by chi type | October 17, 2007 11:43 AM

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