WASHINGTON — Muslims will likely surpass Jews as the second largest religious group behind Christians in the U.S. by 2040, elevated by a high birth rate and immigration, the Pew Research Center said in its latest analysis.
The 3.45 million Muslims here will more than double to 8.1 million by 2050, surpassing the number of Jews along the way, Pew estimated Jan. 3. But the research center did not give a Muslim nor Jewish numerical population estimate for 2040.
“Our projections suggest that the U.S. Muslim population will grow much faster than the country’s Jewish population,” Pew said. “By 2040, Muslims will replace Jews as the nation’s second-largest religious group after Christians.”
Still, Muslims will only account for 2.1 percent of the U.S. population by 2050, Pew said, compared to 1.1 percent today. Jews total 1.9 percent of the nation’s population, Pew said.
Pew based the estimates on its 2017 survey of U.S. Muslims and official Census Bureau data, and said its analysis is in response to prevailing questions amid changing U.S. immigration policy.
“Recent political debates over Muslim immigration and related issues have prompted many people to ask how many Muslims actually live in the United States,” Pew said. “But coming up with an answer is not easy, in part because the U.S. Census Bureau does not ask questions about religion, meaning there is no official government count of the U.S. Muslim population.”
The U.S. admitted a record number of Muslim immigrants in 2016, and Muslims are also growing in the U.S. and globally by a high birth rate, Pew has said. Nearly 60 percent of Muslims in the U.S. immigrated here, Pew said, and only a quarter of Muslims here were born to families that are at least third-generation Americans.
Muslim immigrants to the U.S. totaled 38,901 in fiscal 2016, accounting for 46 percent of the 85,000 refugees who entered the U.S. that year, Pew said in October, 2016. It was the largest number reported since 2002, based on data from the U.S. State Department’s Refugee Processing Center.
Concurrently, the Muslim birth rate is nearly double the overall growth rate of the global population. Muslims are expected to birth 225 million babies worldwide between 2030 and 2035, Pew said in 2017.
The growth in the Muslim population is not fueled by religious conversions.
“Religious conversions haven’t had a large impact on the size of the U.S. Muslim population, largely because about as many Americans convert to Islam as leave the faith,” Pew said. “Indeed, while about one-in-five American Muslim adults were raised in a different faith tradition and converted to Islam, a similar share of Americans who were raised Muslim now no longer identify with the faith.”
Christians comprise 70.8 percent of the nation’s population, Pew said, including Protestants, Catholics, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses and others.
— by Diana Chandler | BP