Some say Christianity is on the Decline, but Experts believe Otherwise

Jan 06, 2003 10:52 PM EST

According to today's media, it's easy to say that Christianity is on the decline while the nation of Islam is on the rise. However, contrary to popular belief, the number of souls believing in Jesus Christ is being added to the Church daily.

"It's not a dying religion. Christianity is a vital religion," according to the Rev. Cecil Murray, of the First AME Church of Los Angeles.

The recent scandals of the Catholic Church have mislead the public to a false impressions and Christianity was afflicted with unsubstantial generalizations. According to the experts, however, Christianity is booming and the word of the Bible is coming alive in many countries.

"They're much more interested in what's wrong with Christianity and not in where it's flourishing, and where it is vital," said Father Thomas Rausch, of Loyola Marymount University. "The third world, the Southern Hemisphere is mostly poor, and it's in these countries where Christianity is mushrooming."

Christianity is on the rise in places like South America, Asia and especially Africa. At the turn of the century, Christianity was rare, but through decades of active evangelism and missionary work, over half the continent has turned to Jesus with over 360 million believers.

"I think it is strong in Africa because Christians went to Africa in the last 75 to 80 years," Rev. Murray comments.

Specific figures on the number of religious adherents vary widely. Divisions among sects and denominations in Islam and Christianity make it difficult to determine specific overall numbers.

The dominant branch of Islam across most of the Arab world and in many non-Arab Muslim nations like Pakistan, Turkey and Indonesia is Sunni. In Iran and Iraq, the Shiites are much smaller in number and tend to be viewed as more fundamentalist and extremist by many Sunnis.

Christianity, meanwhile, is divided into Catholics and Protestants. And while the Catholic Church is a tightly organized hierarchy, there is a wide variety of dispersed Protestant denominations that compete with both the Vatican for adherents to their specific brand of Christianity.

But whatever the case, most experts agree Christianity does have the most believers. And recent reports estimate that by the year 2025, that gap will widen even more, rendering Christianity as the world's largest religion.

By Mike Moon