There are lots of ways to try to decide which religion is the dominant one. You could ask the President, the Parliament, or the Census Bureau. You can go over to the CIA world factbook
too. The problem is that religion and politics are inseparably connected. Riots in Jos Nigeria
, or Gujarat India
are invariably political with religion as an excuse. Even if one took a poll or a survey, it would be heavily influenced by politics.
For example, the self-reporting of religious views in the US 2010 Census is affected by "whether our special interest group gets more government funding", which is the overt message of the $340M Census ad campaign
. This affects how people will self-report themselves. In Switzerland, the only way to avoid the "church tax" is to declare yourself "atheist". So how does one get an unbiased estimate of popular religion?
By using Google.
Over at Floatingsheep.org
blog, they have used data about
Google searches for 4 different key words to rank each location as more "Jesus", "Allah",
"Buddha" or "Hindu" to create a map of the favored search word.
The continents are as you expect, but not the details.
Note especially the enclave of Muslims in the Netherlands, Hindus in South Africa, or the
Buddhists in Switzerland and San Francisco. (Switzerland? Maybe self-declarations do work.)
Seems like Buddhism is far more likely to penetrate the West than Islam, despite what
you might have heard. Here's the graphic (click to enlarge):
Religions of the World
The breakdown in Europe is of particular interest, so here is a blowup of just Europe:
And of course, inquisitive minds want to know how we do with atheist.
Alas, Floatingsheep didn't map that keyword. But they did map the most popular stand in for
the a-religious: "sex". According to Procrustes, it is a very good replacement,
because it is the most relevant religious word of polytheism.
(You will notice the Susan Sontag quote on the Floatingsheep.org website.)
Here's the graphic:
(The comment thread over at Floatingsheep pointed out that "Jesus" is a common name in Spanish speaking countries--Spain, Latin-America--and one should not conclude that they are the most Christian countries on the globe.) But it kinda changes your perspective on the dangers of foreign religion, doesn't it? It isn't Islam, but PoMo, aka Polytheism, that is the dominant threat to our culture today.