By 1896 the 19th century was decidedly Great Britain’s. At 1945 we rounded-up and called it the American Century. 12 years into the 21st and already there’s a contender: Christianity.

The latest numbers from the Pew Religious Forum pegs global Christianity at 2.2 billion persons (and growing) – roughly 32% of the world’s population. The meek may well inherit the earth. Islam is next in the peloton with roughly 1.6bn, Hinduism hovers around 1bn, Judaism is 14m and atheism (notoriously difficult to statistically record) numbers somewhere around 250-400m: more atheists than microwaves, but fewer than French speakers. Coup de maître.

Christianity’s predominance is bad news for new-atheism types, but is it good news for the rest of the world? The short answer(s): No, No, Yes, Yes, and sort of. Allow me to explain.

First off, Christianity’s track record isn’t awe-inspiring. The Church – the body of Christ – has never outgrown its human shadow. Medieval Crusades and 19th century colonialism are common, if not glib, altercations – but there are others: Jewish pogroms, intellectual suppression and slave trades, to name a few. For something more recent, remember the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s.

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