Islam is the most common state-endorsed religion, research reveals

Islam is the most common state-endorsed religion as most Christian nations support their faith unofficially instead, research shows.

Some 27 governments around the world officially endorse Islam while Christianity is the state religion in only 13 countries including the UK. 

But out of 40 governments which unofficially favour a particular religion, 28 legally or financially support Christianity.

The Pew Research Centre in Washington DC analysed 199 countries and found that 43 have an official religion, 40 have a preferred religion, 106 including the US have no preferred religion and ten are actively hostile to religious institutions.

These are former or currently communist countries such as China, Cuba, North Korea, Vietnam and several former Soviet republics.

The report reads: 'In some cases, state religions have roles that are largely ceremonial. But often the distinction comes with tangible advantages in terms of legal or tax status, ownership of real estate or other property, and access to financial support from the state.

'In addition, countries with state-endorsed (or "established") faiths tend to more severely regulate religious practice, including placing restrictions or bans on minority religious groups.’

'Most governments around the globe, however, are generally neutral toward religion,' the reports concludes. 

The Pew Research Centre released the figures after it said Muslims would outnumber Christians by 2070.

The religion's share of the world's population will equal the Christian share - at roughly 32 per cent each by 2070, the centre claimed. 

By 2100 around one per cent more of the world's population will be Muslim than Christian, its 2014 report said.

Researchers said migration is among factors helping to increase the Muslim population in some regions, including North America and Europe.

Pew analysis revealed Muslims are the fastest-growing religious group in the world and in 2010 there were 1.6billion in the world - about 23 per cent of the global population.

But the figure is short of the 2.2 billion Christians which made up 31 percent of the population.

The research claimed Muslims are having more children than members of other religious groups with each woman having an average of 3.1 offspring compared to 2.3 for all other groups combined.

In 2010 the median age of all Muslims was 23 - seven years younger than non-Muslims. 

The report added: 'While it does not change the global population, migration is helping to increase the Muslim population in some regions, including North America and Europe.' 

Some 62 per cent of Muslims live in the Asia-Pacific region with large populations in Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran and Turkey, Pew researchers said.

In 2050, India is set to take over from Indonesia as the country with the world's largest Muslim population, according to the study.

Last year there were 3.3 million Muslims of all ages in the US - about 1 per cent of the population. 

By 2050, the share is predicted to climb to 2.1 per cent.


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