According to David Barrett et al, editors of the “World Christian Encyclopedia: A comparative survey of churches and religions – AD 30 to 2200,” there are 19 major world religions which are subdivided into a total of 270 large religious groups, and many smaller ones. Most people in the world follow one of the religions listed in the table below. Included is the name of the religion, the approximate date of its origin, its main sacred or ethical texts (if any) and its estimated numerical strength (both in absolute numbers and as a percentage of the world’s population.)
These data are based on census or public opinion data. Thus, a person is considered to be of a particular religion if they say that they are of that faith.
Statistics of the world’s religions are only very rough approximations.
|Religion||Date Founded||Sacred Texts||Members||% of World|
|Christianity||30 CE||The Bible||2,015 million||33% (dropping)|
|Islam||622 CE||Qur’an & Hadith||1,215 million||20% (growing)|
|No religion *||No date||None||925 million||15% (dropping)|
|Hinduism||1,500 BCE||The Veda||786 million||13% (stable)|
|Buddhism||523 BCE||The Tripitaka||362 million||6% (stable)|
|Atheists||No date||None||211 million||4%|
|Chinese folk rel.||270 BCE||None||188 million||4%|
|New Asian rel.||Various||Various||106 million||2%|
|Tribal Religions||Prehistory||Oral tradition||91 million||2%|
|Sikhism||1500 CE||Guru Granth Sahib||16 million||<1%|
|Judaism||No consensus||Torah, Talmud||18 million||<1%|
|Shamanists||Prehistory||Oral Tradition||12 million||<1%|
|Confucianism||520 BCE||Lun Yu||5 million||<1%|
|Baha’i Faith||1863 CE||Most Holy Book||4 million||<1%|
|Jainism||570 BCE||Siddhanta, Pakrit||3 million||<1%|
|Shinto||500 CE||Kojiki, Nohon Shoki||3 million||<1%|
|Zoroastrianism||No consensus||Avesta||0.2 million||<1%|
* Persons with no religion, agnostics, freethinkers, humanists, secularists, etc.
The map shows concentration of Muslim population by region.
J.W. Wright, Editor, “The Universal Almanac, 1996“, Andrews & McMeel, Kansas City.
Greg H. Parsons, Executive Director, “U.S. Center for World Mission,” Pasadena, CA; quoted in Zondervan News Service, 1997-FEB-21.
Quoted in Religion Today‘s Current News Summary for 1999-OCT-19.
2000-JAN data from the Global Evangelization Movement as reported in ReligionToday on 2000-JAN-10. Based on a total world’s population of 6,091.351,000 people.