Over half of the world’s population claim to be either Christian (over 2 billion), Muslim (about 1.2 billion), or Hindu (nearly 0.8 billion). Buddhists number over 0.3 billion. No other religion is supported by more than 200 million people, with most other doctrines claiming just a few million. Surprisingly, the founding monotheistic religion, Judaism, reports less than twenty million adherents. By way of comparison, over 0.9 billion people state that they do not follow a religion of any sort, and more than 0.2 billion call themselves atheists and deny the existence of any god.
- A number of sources have been invaluable in researching this chapter: Microsoft Encarta DVD-ROM Reference Suite 99. Microsoft Corporation; Noss, Man’s Religions; Chris Richards, general editor, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of World Religions (Shaftesbury, Dorset: Element Books Limited, 1997), and a variety of web sites. The statistics were taken from the World Christian Encyclopaedia. Another source for statistics is globalchristianity.org.