The 8 Largest Religions in the World

With so many doctrines spread around the world, it's even hard to guess which ones have the biggest followings. 

8. Spiritism (approx. 13 million followers)
Spiritism is not exactly a religion, but it also makes the list. The survival of the spirit after death and reincarnation are the foundations of this doctrine, which emerged in France and expanded throughout the world after the publication of The Spirits' Book, by Allan Kardec (1857). It is in Brazil that the largest Spiritist community in the world is found: 1,3% of the country's population is Spiritist.

7. Judaism (approx. 15 million adherents)
Currently, most of the world's Jews live in Israel and the United States, where they migrated to flee Nazi persecution. Even so, Jews make up only 1,7% of the US population. Meanwhile, in Argentina, our Jewish brothers are 2% of the population.

6. Sikhism (approx. 20 million adherents)

Although not widespread, Sikhism is the sixth largest religion in the world. The monotheistic doctrine was founded in the 16th century by Guru Nanak and is based on his teachings. Sikhism was born in the province of Punjab, India, and most of its followers still live in the region. They make up 1,9% of India's population and 0,3% of Fiji.

5. Buddhism (approx. 376 million adherents)
The doctrine based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha (600 BC), seeks the full realization of human nature. Existence is a continuous cycle of death and rebirth, in which present and past lives are intertwined. Unsurprisingly, this eastern religion is the main doctrine in several Southeast Asian countries, such as Cambodia, Laos, Burma and Thailand. In Japan, it is the second largest religion in the country: 71,4% of the population is practicing (many Japanese people practice more than one religion and are therefore counted more than once).

4. Traditional Chinese religion (approx. 400 million adherents)
“Traditional Chinese religion” is a term used to describe a complex interplay between the different religions and philosophical traditions practiced in China. Adherents of traditional Chinese religion mix creeds and practices from different doctrines such as Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism and other minor religions. With more than 400 million practitioners, they represent about 6% of the world's population.

3. Hinduism (approx. 900 million adherents)

Based on Vedic texts, Hinduism encompasses monotheistic and polytheistic sects and variations, without a single body of doctrines or scriptures. Hindus make up over 80% of the population in India and Nepal. Even with such variety, they are only the third largest religion in the world. However, they boast a more original title: the largest religious monument on the planet. It is the Angkor Wat temple – later converted into a Buddhist monastery –, which is about 40 square kilometers and was built in Cambodia in the XNUMXth century.

2. Islam (approx. 1,6 billion adherents)

The silver medal in the list of religions goes to Muslims. According to projections, twenty years from now, they will make up more than a quarter of the world's population. If this scenario materializes, the number of Muslims in the United States will more than double, and a quarter of the Israeli population will be practicing Islam. Furthermore, France and Belgium will become more than 10% Islamic.

1. Christianity (approx. 2,2 billion adherents)

Even with the growth of other religions, Christianity remains the doctrine with the most adherents worldwide. However, his followers have changed their profile. A century ago, two-thirds of Christians lived in Europe. Today, Europeans make up only a quarter of Christians. But the interesting thing is to point out where Christianity has grown the most in the last century: in sub-Saharan Africa. Since 1910, the region's Christian population has jumped from 9 to 516 million adherents.

Source: Pew Research Forum on Religion & Public Life e The Association of Religion Data Archives.

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