Written by Sherry
Wednesday, 26 March 2008 16:45
According to the World Christian Database, here are the approximate numbers of Christians in areas of the world that are majority Muslim as of 2005:
In Western Asia (or what most of us would think of as “the middle east”:
There are 13 million Christians or 6% of a total population of 214 million (189 million Muslims).
4 million are Catholic, 8 million are Orthodox. The majority of the rest of the Christian population (700,000) are Independents. (For more on Independent Christianity, go here)
In North Africa (which includes Egypt)
There are 17 million Christians or 9% of the total population of 191 million (167 million Muslims)
4 million are Catholic, 10 million are Orthodox. 500,000 are historic Protestants.
In western Africa (which would include Nigeria and Senegal):
There are 93 million Christians or 35% of the total population of 264 million. (122 million Muslims, 47 million traditional religionists).
32 million are Catholic, 33 million are Independents, 30.5 million are historic Protestants.
In south central Asia (which includes Iran, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan who are overwhelmingly Muslim, but also India, the center of Hinduism)
76.5 million Christians or 4.75% of the overall population of 1.6 billion. (555 million Muslims, 851 million Hindus)
23 million are Catholic, 30 million are Independents. 22 million are historic Protestants, 5.5 million are Orthodox.
Indonesia (the largest majority Muslim country in the world):
29 million Christians or 13% of the total population of 223 million. (125 million Muslims)
6.5 million are Catholic. 14 million are historic Protestants. 8 million are Independents.
So we end up with a rough figure of 229 million Christians in these 5 areas immersed in a sea of 2.5 billion people: 1.28 billion Muslims and 851 million Hindus – and various other smaller religious traditions.
Overall Christians make up 9% of the population in the 5 areas, Muslims 51%.
The 229 million Christians in the 5 areas are split pretty evenly between Catholics 69.5 million (30%), Independents 71.7 million (30.5%), historic Protestants 67 million (29%) with a significant minority of Orthodox 23.5 million (10.3%).
From another perspective, you could say that historic, liturgical Christians make up about 41% of the total and the Reformation heritage Christians about 59%.
Obviously, which Christian tradition dominates depends upon where you live. In western Asia and north Africa, the ancient centers of Christianity, it is historic Christianity that constitutes the majority. In the newly evangelized areas of western Africa, south central Asia, and Indonesia, Independents lead the way with historic Protestants a strong second.
One result: historic Christian communities who have lived in majority Muslim cultures for many centuries and experienced long, slow attrition under difficult circumstances, can have a different take on their situation than the relatively “new” Reformation heritage communities who only arrived in the area in the 19th century for the first time and have experienced sometimes remarkable growth in the past few decades.
To maintain our perspective, we must remember that Catholic Christians are a minority among a minority. 2.78% of the population in the majority Muslim world is Catholic but that number only represents 30% of the entire Christian population in the region. Our experience is important but is only one part of the whole.