How Many Muslims Does it Take?

Today I received yet another email. Much like the last 1000 or so it began with a warning: “Muslims are taking over and criminalizing Detroit.” It offered no evidence for this statement – not even a URL to one of the regular Muslim hate groups. But it repeated their blather about how Muslims have already taken over great swaths of Europe and are poised in the next 20 years to elect “another Muslim Socialist President.”

In my blogs I’ve sought to represent the facts about Islamic teaching and Muslim practice – pointing out for example that “Muslim Socialist” is a kind of oxymoron given the strong emphasis on private property in Islamic law. But in this blog I simply want to present the facts about Muslim populations, both worldwide and in the United States. My sources are The Future of Global Muslim Population: PEW Forum on Religion and Public Life, The U.S. Religious Landscape: PEW Forum on Religion and Public Life, Muslim Americans: Middle Class and Mostly Mainstream: PEW Forum on Religion and Public Life and The Atlas of Global Christianity: David Barrett ed. All are readily available online for those who wish to do some fact checking.

Lets start with how many Muslims there are in the United States. The 2008 Pew Report tells us that among the major religious traditions in the U.S. we find.

If it seems unlikely to the reader that six tenths of one percent of the population (or even twice that) will have an impact on US politics then you’ll understand why US politicians continue to engage in anti-Muslim rhetoric and behavior.  Muslims don’t matter at the voting booth, not even where their populations are relatively concentrated.

But what about population growth. After all, the Muslim population is growing faster than that of most Christian groups. Here are the facts from the 2011 Pew Report:

  • “In the United States  the population projections show the number of Muslims more than doubling over the next two decades, rising from 2.6 million in 2010 to 6.2 million in 2030, in large part because of immigration and higher-than-average fertility among Muslims.
  • The Muslim share of the U.S. population (adults and children) is projected to grow from 0.8% in 2010 to 1.7% in 2030, making Muslims roughly as numerous as Jews or Episcopalians are in the United States today. Although several European countries will have substantially higher percentages of Muslims, the United States is projected to have a larger number of Muslims by 2030 than any European countries other than Russia and France.
  • About two-thirds of the Muslims in the U.S. today (64.5%) are first-generation immigrants (foreign-born), while slightly more than a third(35.5%) were born in the U.S. By 2030, however, more than four-in-ten of the Muslims in the U.S. (44.9%) are expected to be native-born.”

So yes, by 2030 the U.S. Muslim population will have doubled; to a percentage that is still politically insignificant. Think of the direction that the Episcopal Church has gone in recent decades (gay  married bishops) and compare that with how American politics have shifted and you’ll have the answer to how much influence a religious group with 1.7% of the population wields.

And how will Muslims use their political influence? What are their values and attitudes toward the United States? Again we actually have answers that are not based on the gut feelings of Islamophobes, but actual statistical analysis of scientific surveys. Here are Muslim attitudes compared to the general American public.

Apparently in some ways Muslims have more faith in American values than do most Americans!

But of course this means little if Muslims are outbreeding the rest of us, right? So let’s look at not just current Muslim population growth worldwide, but rates of growth as well. First lets look at comparisons of populations between Muslims and non-Muslims over the next 20 years.

Clearly Muslims will be a larger percentage of the world population, although (as we shall see) lagging behind non-Muslims considerably.

More importantly look at rates of Muslim population growth. The trend is clear. Muslim population growth is now slowing across the world and is projected to reach the same rates as non-Muslim population growth just about the time that the Muslim population reaches 26% of world population. Thus it is unlikely that Muslims will ever make up more than 26% of the world’s population. Percentages in the United States will continue to grow for sometime after 2030, but will also apparently stabilize long before they become politically significant on a national level. While projections beyond 2030 are difficult, we know of no population in the Western World that has reversed a declining birth rate.

I want to close this blog with one final chart. Some readers may well be saying that the Pew Organization, and notorious sponsor of  liberals like NPR, can’t be trusted. So lets look at the work of David Barrett’s Atlas of World Christianity. Barrett’s organization is an evangelical Christian organization dedicated to providing accurate information for Christian missions.

Barrett’s statistics show Christianity growing at an average rate of 1.35% per annum, and Muslim populations at 1.8% per annum. In absolute numbers this means about 85,000 new Christians per hour and about 77,000 new Muslims per hour. Most of this growth is through birth.  Of course growth rates will change as indicated above.

What is the take-away? Don’t trust the fear mongers. They are in it for the money not the truth. And it’s the truth that sets us free.