Islam and Christianity have sure done a
super job spreading the word. Half of the world's current population is either
Christian or Muslim, with the two religions roughly on par
with each other. Neither religion is pausing for breath, and both should
easily maintain or increase their share of the world's
religion markets in the coming century.
Religion is a market. It's big business. Everyone knows tele-evangelists have been raking in
the big bucks off believers for years. Christian Post publishes a list of America's
largest churches. Thirty five of the top one hundred churches, coined
gigachurches, lure in more than 10,000 Christ lovers per
other sixty-five in the top hundred draw in more than 6,000. There are now churches online, whose congregations
span across borders. The attendees pay church membership fees, buy crosses
and wafers, and send their kids to Christian schools and
Islam hasn't been quite as efficient at
monetizing their market. There are no gigamosques, as such, and since the
majority of Muslims live in poorer parts of the world, they
lack the disposable income for potential Muslim tele-evangelists
to milk the most from it. The annual pilgrimage to Mecca remains a nice money
spinner for the Saudi Arabian economy. Three million people show up annually, infusing the
Meccan economy with US$100m. Saudi Arabian Airlines derives 12% of its annual
income from the pilgrimage.
Both religions have great marketing teams
they call missionaries. The Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints
(LDS) has some of the most active missionary teams in the
Christian market, with over 50,000 Mormons at any given time
spreading Jesus Christ's and Joseph Smith's words at their
own, not the Church's, expense for two years. It's a very sweet deal for LDS -- fresh converts
brought in without having to spend a dime to get them, like
having your very own multi-level marketing scheme without
having to pay any downline commissions for bringing in
sales. When I was
13, our family drove across country, and we stopped for an
afternoon in Salt Lake City, Utah to visit the Mormon Temple
grounds. By my
mother innocently filling out the guestbook there, the ever
efficient Mormons logged our address and within a month a
Mormon self-financed proselytizer was knocking at our door
and trying to convert the entire family. Talk about chasing up every available lead!
Missionaries have always found ready
targets in the poor and the disenfranchised. The classic missionary stratagem is to show up in an
economically undeveloped area, say an Indian tribal village
in Central or South America, bearing educational tools and
medicines. A tacit deal is struck. The "benevolent" but uninvited missionaries let the
locals attend the schools and use the hospitals. In exchange, the villagers wind up as card-carrying
Christians. American missionaries were able to penetrate the South
Korean market when Korea was still economically undeveloped. They traded aid to the Korean nationalists against
the Japanese for Korean adherence to the Bible and cross. About half of Koreans today say they subscribe to no
religious philosophy. Of those that do, the largest group, about a third of
all Koreans, is Christian, taking a significant market share
from the old mainstay of Buddhism in less than fifty years. Now South Koreans comprise the world's second
largest source of Christian missionary talent after
Americans, more than 12,000 strong in more than 160
a man to fish and he can eat for a lifetime. Convert a man to Christianity and he can proselytize
for a lifetime.
The Muslims have been successful, just not
as successful as Christianity, in the mass conversion
market, maybe because it's not quite as straightforward to
convert to Islam. To jump on the Christianity bandwagon, all you need
to do is declare you embrace Jesus Cristo as your savior. Conversion to Islam can be done during a coffee
break, too, but a man also needs to have his foreskin
removed, say goodbye to pork products, and adopt a Muslim
name. Having the
love rod snipped as an adult is reason enough to steer clear
, but even if one's previously circumcised, as many Western
men already are, legally changing one's name from Steve
Jones to Muhammed Yusaf and giving up the sausage and bacon
sides with your omelette could put off anyone except
circumcised vegetarians with already hard-to-pronounce
Christianity's home is in the modern West,
in more moderate and egalitarian societies. Islam thrives in the Arabian Peninsula, North Africa,
and South Asia, poorer and less developed societies. Were a Christian and a Muslim missionary to make
their pitch to a confused person seeking a belief in
something, all things considered it's easier and less
painful to just embrace Jesus.
students shouldn't be hawking Christianity while they're still using
acne creams: Didi The Dancing Penguin
Christianity, as the religious face of the
West, is seen as the White man's religion. In paintings and sculptures Jesus is depicted as a
good-looking long haired Caucasian hippie. Islam has had the
greatest luck in the West converting those people who feel
the White man (i.e. the Establishment) hasn't given them the
An expert estimated in a
New York Times article published shortly after the 9-11
attacks that 25,000 people a year in the United States go
The lion's share of converts are African Americans. Addicts and the jailed are also welcomed into the
fold with open arms.
It's thought that there are over 6 million
Muslims living in the United States. That's a huge number, achieved from both immigration
and widespread conversion, considering that the Muslim
population in America was inconsequential 100 years ago.
Islam has made even greater inroads in Europe over
the last hundred years, most of the growth occurring in just
the last 50 years. As of 2007, there were 53 million Muslims resident in Europe, 16 million of
those living in the European Union.
Europe's Muslim population has tripled in the last 30
years. (Cat Stevens'
1978 conversion must've brought a share of his fans with
don't agree on exact numbers, but they do concur that
Europe's Islamic population will double from its present
numbers sometime between 2015 and 2020, that by 2050 twenty
percent of Europeans will be Muslim, and by 2100 that share
will rise to twenty-five percent. High reproductive capacity, not conversions, is the
Muslim's preferred method of growth.
When conversions are
a factor, they usually involve ethnic groups renowned for
their own copious reproductive habits.
Historically, the two religions have
always been in competition with each other for new souls to
save. Put a born
again Christian and a fundamentalist Muslim in a room
together, and they'll either kill each other or bore each
other to death trying to convert each other.
Neither group has any
abiding respect for each other's belief systems, let alone
Tact doesn't play a part. Whatever these evangelicals wish to call themselves,
they're salesmen, yet they're not observant, like a good
salesman would be, what their potential customer-convert
needs or if he really needs anything at all. These religion salesmen will spoonfeed in their
hallelujah medicine regardless of appetite.
Growing up in the United States, I admittedly have
more experience with Christians shoveling the manure down
In high school, I was the only non-Christian in my
graduating class and was regularly informed I was going
straight to hell -- by supposed friends no less. In university I was unlucky enough to be assigned a
dorm room next to an evangelizing Japanese-American and he
never ceased to try to convert me.
One afternoon, I was walking
past the main student union where
a soul saver was preaching his unsolicited sales pitch at
the top of his lungs to anyone walking in the near vicinity. I was carrying a gettoblaster, and I cranked up the
music to full volume to drown him out. When I got back to my dormitory room, my wealthy
Japanese-American born again dorm neighbor wasted not a
moment in trying to rip me a new one. How could I show such a lack of respect?
interesting to observe that no other prominent religion,
apart from these two, has histories dotted with so much self
initiated violence. I cannot name you a bloody altercation involving
Buddhists. They're too busy mediating in beautiful temples to bother
wasting their time converting you. If you want in, you join up of your own accord. Hindus won't have you.
Conversion and evangelizing is completely absent from
Hindu literature. The Jews aren't looking for you either. Traditionally, it was very, very difficult to convert
to Judaism, and an Orthodox-recognized conversion, the only
type that once existed, required long study and dedication. You surely couldn't convert to Judaism during a trip
to the toilet, like you could with Christianity and Islam.
In the eighth century, Sufi missionaries
in present day Pakistan converted the majority of Buddhists
and Hindus to Islam. Jews, throughout their history, have been persecuted
and forced, by both Christians and Muslims, to convert.
And Christians and Muslims have always been trying to
poach each other's numbers. But when have you ever heard of Buddhists, Jews, or
Hindus trying to stage a mass conversion?
If there's anything we should've have
learned over the course of modern history, it's tolerance --
a respect of people of different races and different
beliefs. It should be obvious that the world can never hope to
achieve lasting peace if a quarter of the world is fighting
with another quarter of the world to convert the other half
of the world.