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Islam May Become Second-Largest U.S. Religion by 2040: New Pew Report

( [email protected] ) Jan 08, 2016 10:31 AM EST
By 2040, Islam could become the second-largest religion in the United States, according to a new report from the Pew Research Center. Pew staffers estimate there were about 3.3 million Muslims of all ages living in the United States in 2015, translating to Muslims making up about 1 percent of the total U.S. population — which was about 322 million people in 2015. Pew researchers estimate the Muslim share will double by 2050, with immigration playing a significant role to changes.
The crescent moon, the symbol of Allah (formerly one moon god among many gods), and of Islam.

By 2040, Islam could become the second-largest religion in the United States, according to a new report from the Pew Research Center. Pew staffers estimate there were about 3.3 million Muslims of all ages living in the United States in 2015, translating to Muslims making up about 1 percent of the total U.S. population -- which was about 322 million people in 2015. Pew researchers estimate the Muslim share will double by 2050, with immigration playing a significant role in changes.

"Islam may take over Christianity," suggested Fox & Friends during a Friday morning newscast.  

At the current Muslim growth rate, Islam would surpass Judaism as the religion holding the second largest number of followers in the United States.

(Photo: Pew Research Center)

"Our new estimate of Muslims and other faiths is based on a demographic projection that models growth in the American Muslim population since our 2011 estimate and includes both adults and children," said Pew senior researcher Besheer Mohamed.

He said the projection uses data on age, fertility, mortality, migration and religious switching drawn from multiple sources, including the 2011 survey of Muslim Americans.

Pew projections suggest the U.S. Muslim population will grow faster than the Hindu population, and much faster than the Jewish population in the coming decades. Even before 2040, Muslims are forecasted to become the second-largest religious group in the United States, after Christians. By 2050, the American Muslim population is projected to reach 8.1 million people, or 2.1 percent of the total population.

There currently are fewer Muslims of all ages in the U.S. than there are Jews by religion (5.7 million) but more than there are Hindus (2.1 million) and many more than there are Sikhs, according to Pew data.

In some U.S. cities, Muslims comprise significantly more than 1 percent of the community, states Pew staffers. And even at the state level, Muslims are not evenly distributed: Certain states, such as New Jersey, have two or three times as many Muslim adults per capita as the national average.

More than half of the projected growth of the American Muslim population from 2010 to 2015 is due to immigration, cited Pew. Over the last 20 years, there has been an increase in the number of Muslim immigrants coming to the U.S. The number of Muslim immigrants currently represents about 10 percent of all legal immigrants arriving in the U.S. and a significantly smaller percentage of unauthorized immigrants, said Mohamed.

He said the other main cause of Islam's recent growth is a natural increase. "American Muslims tend to have more children than Americans of other religious faiths. Muslims also tend to be younger than the general public, so a larger share of Muslims will soon be at the point in their lives when people begin having children."

There has been little net change in the size of the American Muslim population in recent years due to conversion, cites the Pew Research. About one-in-five American Muslim adults were raised in a different faith or none at all. At the same time, a similar number of people who were raised Muslim no longer identify with the faith. About as many Americans become Muslim as leave Islam, states Pew.

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