Monday, March 31, 2008

More Muslims than Catholics

Not quite sure what one is supposed to make of that, other than a good portion of the world's religious folks are monotheistic. The historical imprint is shifting. In 1095 it was Pope Urban number 2 who enraged his followers to start the First Crusade into the Holy Land to take or recapture Jerusalem. The fall of the Roman Empire turned into the Dark Ages resulting in a religious fervor sweeping across Catholic Europe, setting the stage for one of the most brutal invasions in History. Fast forward to today, and now three Faiths tensely live upon the powder keg sharing the Holy Land with intermittent outbreaks of violence between all.

Demographics show Islam grows across the world with higher birthrates from its practitioners. Europe is no longer strictly Catholic what with the Anglican Church breaking off under King Henry to sanction his serial marriages, the Reformation and other events. Overall, there remains more practicing Christians in the world with Islam making a steady rise. King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia met with the Pope recently after his call for interfaith dialogue.

Tensions in the relationships between Islam and Europeans, blew up last month when the head of the Anglican Church made an argument for incorporating Sharia law into England's legal system enraging the normally stoic Brits. Last week during Holy Week, Pope Benedict made a great show of the conversion of a former Muslim into a Catholic. This week, the Vatican says they are outnumbered and Islam is now the world's largest religion.

"For the first time in history we are no longer at the top: the Muslims have overtaken us," Formenti told Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano in an interview, saying the data referred to 2006.

He said that if all Christian groups were considered, including Orthodox churches, Anglicans and Protestants, then Christians made up 33 percent of the world's population -- or about 2 billion people.

An excellent book written in 2003 in the wake of 9/11 by Thomas Asbridge is The First Crusade: A New History. The Islamic scholar, Akbar S. Ahmed appreciates the his new perspective in examining the events of the past shaping the events of today.

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