A new report from Pew Research finds that as Americans grow more partisan in their view of Muslims, they are the fastest-growing religious demographic. In fact, it’s estimated that Muslims will see a 73 percent increase in population size by 2050, the only religious group on-pace to grow faster than the world’s population as a whole.
From Pew Research:
There were 1.6 billion Muslims in the world as of 2010 – roughly 23% of the global population – according to a Pew Research Center estimate. But while Islam is currently the world’s second-largest religion (after Christianity), it is the fastest-growing major religion. Indeed, if current demographic trends continue, the number of Muslims is expected to exceed the number of Christians by the end of this century.
Although many countries in the Middle East-North Africa region, where the religion originated in the seventh century, are heavily Muslim, the region is home to only about 20% of the world’s Muslims. A majority of the Muslims globally (62%) live in the Asia-Pacific region, including large populations in Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran and Turkey.
While Indonesia is currently the country with the largest Muslim population, by 2050 India will have surpassed them at 300 million Muslims, though they will still be a a minority compared to their Hindu neighbors.
Domestically, there are about 3.3 million Muslims in the United States, around one percent of the national population, of which about 1.8 million were adults in 2011. While still a small part of the overall American diaspora, since 1992 the share of immigrants granted permanent residency in the U.S. doubled from five to ten percent.
Their American neighbors, however, are growing more partisan in how they see the larger Muslim community in the U.S. In the latest results from the ongoing Pew Research survey that measures opinions about religions over time has found that of the eight major religions they ask about, Muslims rank number eight.
Overall, Americans’ feelings towards Muslims seem to be improving. The opinions are rated on a “feeling thermometer” where participants rate the religions on a scale of zero to 100 degrees. In 2014 Americans rated Muslims at 40 degrees but in 2017 that figure rose eight points. However, when asked if Muslims are anti-American, participants’ responses grew more disparate based on political party.
In 2002 the idea that “just a few” U.S. Muslims had anti-American sentiments was tied between Democrats and Republicans at about 40 percent, the largest share of responses. Republicans were more likely to think “almost all” or “most” U.S. Muslims were anti-American, but only by about three points more than Democrats. About a third of respondents thought that “half” or “some” (a rather broad spectrum) were anti-American.
This has shifted drastically in 2017, with Democrats feeling more warmly towards Muslims than Republicans. The majority of Democrats believe that only a few Muslims harbor anti-American sentiments, however Republicans who feel that way saw their numbers shrink by 11 percent. Those Republicans moved into the “half/some” category and those who think all Muslims are trouble found an extra give percent to grow their ranks.
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