Is Christianity the World's Largest Religion?

We constantly hear that Christianity is the world's largest religion, with 2 to 2.2 billion adherents.  But did you know that in order to get those numbers, you have to lump Catholics with Protestants, and even Mormons into the equation? 

Many religious experts point out that Hinduism and Buddhism are both Indian religions, and could be compared to Catholics and Protestants.  Like Catholicism,  Hindu's are full of iconography and worship multiple religious heroes, and deities. While both Protestants and Buddhists tend to keep things a bit more simple and concentrate on only the top level figures in their belief system. 

So why is it that when compiling numbers for Western religions, statisticians feel it is fine to lump all Western religions into one grand number, but not for Eastern religions? Could it simply be Western bias, as they don’t want to acknowledge the real numbers?

Let's take a look at the four biggest world religions in the way the numbers are currently presented by Western biased statisticians:

  • Christianity                  2.2 Billion        
  • Islam                           1.6 Billion        
  • Hinduism                     1.1 Billion        
  • Buddhism                    488 Million        

What numbers do we see if we treat Hinduism and Buddhism in the same manner that Christianity is treated?

  • Christianity                  2.2 Billion        
  • Islam                           1.6 Billion  
  • Hindu-Buddhism        1.5 Billion      

Now, let's do the opposite and split Christianity apart in the same way they have split the Indian religions apart.  When we do this, you get the following:

  • Islam                           1.6 Billion
  • Catholic                       1.2 Billion
  • Hinduism                     1.1 Billion  
  • Buddhism                    0.48 Billion 
  • Protestantism              0.48 Billion
  • Eastern Orthodox       0.30 Billion

So, what is the answer to our question?  Is Christianity the world's largest religion?  The answer is that it is only the biggest if you unfairly lump all of the Western religions into one pile and compare them against the Eastern religions in separate piles.        

And yes, we could of course have broken Islam into two separate branches, but the differences in Sunni and Shia are nowhere near as great as the differences we see within Catholicism, let alone the vast differences within Protestants.  Note: There are currently more than 33,000 known variants within the "Protestant" belief system.   

In short, the idea that Christianity is the world's largest religion is a Western biased view.

 

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