On the Demographic Shift in the Christian World over the Past Century

Sherry Weddell, who has forgotten more about Christian demographics and its implications for the Church’s mission than most people will ever know remarks:

How the world changed while you were sleeping . . . World Christianity is increasingly poor, brown, and growing every year while 100 years ago, it was majority white and affluent.

The new (2019) World Christian Encyclopedia, provides this summary of World Christianity in 100 Christians:

“If 100 Christians represented all of global Christianity, 67 would live in Asia, Africa, Latin America or Oceania, while 33 would live in Europe or Northern America. Most would be found in urban areas (65) as opposed to rural (35).

Linguistically, 16 would speak Spanish as their mother tongue, 10 English, 8 Portuguese, 5 Russian and 3 Mandarin Chinese. Most (64) would be between the ages of 15–64, while 26 would be under 15. Eleven Christians would be illiterate, and 35 would have little to no access to secondary education. Roughly half of Christians would have access to the internet.

Fourteen would have no access to safe water, and five would have malaria. Most Christians (79) would live in countries with moderate to high corruption; 35 would live in countries with low development.

A typical Christian today is a non-white woman living in the global South, with lower-than-average levels of societal safety and proper health care. This represents a vastly different typical Christian than that of 100 years ago, who was likely a white, affluent European.

“The 2014 Oxford Handbook of Religious Conversion found that there are “approximately 15.5 million converting to Christianity annually from another religion, while approximately 11.7 million leave Christianity annually, and most of them become irreligious, resulting in a net gain of 3.8 million” new converts to Christianity every year. “

The core blunder of white supremacist MAGA Qhristianity is that while right wing Bannonist/Burke Qatholicism have been doing “Western Civilization” junk leading to spitting in the faces of Amazonian Catholics, kidnapping and murdering brown refugees, and praising Austrian white supremacists, the Holy Spirit has been doing “saving the world and building up the body of Christ” stuff.

Right wing MAGA Catholicism isn’t merely disinterested in the Church’s mission to the world, it hates it and it hates this Pope for focusing on it.

Mission means going out into the highways and byways and meeting people on their terms since, as St. Thomas said, “That which is received is received according to the mode of the receiver” and therefore apostles must be all things to all. Reactionary MAGA Qatholicism demands, rather, that all come to it and conform to its overbearing aesthetic, socio-political, and cultural demands and it punishes with ostracism those who do not knuckle under to it. It is about defending a Fortress from invasion, not about saving the world. It not only does not believe that the gates of Hell shall not prevail against the Church, it is certain that–with this Pope in particular–Hell has already conquered the Church and a small, beleaguered sect of Pure Catholics are fighting a losing rearguard action to defend all that is left of the True Remnant from the Pope and the “Deep Church”.

That sect has no real interest in the actual Catholic Tradition. What they care about is a highly rarefied aesthetic vision concocted from an imaginary past and–above all–power. Traditionalism is younger than the Beatles, largely owes its existence to the Internet, and cares not about spreading the gospel or interest in the least of these, but about imposing that aesthetic on others and dominating them with authoritarian political power. It is about maintaining a white American and European grip on power that it desperately fears it is losing to a browning world.


6 Responses

  1. “ What they care about is a highly rarefied aesthetic vision concocted from an imaginary past and–above all–power.”

    Not just power, Mark. Definitely not just power. As i have written many times on these very pages, it is certainly about power. But the power has a point.

    Money. Lots and lots of money. But not money to do good in the world. Not Money to make someone’s life better. Money because Power.

    Religious dominion, because for the True Believer (TM), who is god’s BFFF is truly an important issue, because 1) power, and 2) Money. And in the case of a certain proportion of these dominionists, deflection, projection, dejection, rejection, and protection, especially from themselves. God, as usual, has other concerns.

    But from a psychological point of view, from the subterranean Id-iotic depths, is the most important objective of power, money, and dominion: REVENGE. Revenge on those who don’t know their place, who refuse to know their place, who are sick and tired of their place, and who threaten the ability of that proportion of dominionists to deflect and protect themselves.

    Because if there is one thing that bigots really don’t like, it is UPPITY.

  2. I shudder to think what sort of experiences you’ve had with my fellow Trads that lead you to this conclusion. I wonder how much of it was online – because, I will say, whenever I visit the Traditional Catholics subreddit, I almost instantly feel angry and/or scared by osmosis because of the sheer number of negative/conspiratorial posts. Similarly, the one time I visited the Traditional Latin Mass Discussion Group on Facebook, I had to leave after five minutes because it felt like a powder keg about to go off – specifically, there was a post where people were discussing whether or not it was appropriate to pray the Rosary during Mass and the tenor of everyone’s comments gave the impression that only the Forum rules kept them from biting each other’s heads off 0_0

    Compare that with the lived experience of my diocesan TLM parish, where the congregation is admittedly mostly white, but with a solid minority of black and Hispanic families (oddly enough, as far as I’ve seen, the same parish’s Novus Ordo Mass is even LESS diverse), and pretty much everyone behaves like a decent, relatively normal human being – except in the area of wearing masks, despite the poor pastor’s repeated pleas that they do so, which is part of the reason I haven’t physically been there for some time (I work with the elderly, so I can’t afford to take risks).

    The one Trad I know in real life who mostly-to-entirely fits your description (who actually wasn’t a full-on Trad until after the pandemic hit) is a real piece of work who I know from the Knights of Columbus. Four examples of his unpleasantness will suffice:

    1) After the pastor of the Anglican Use community that was stationed at our parish caught his wife having an affair and reacted violently (I think Simcha Fisher wrote something about that on her blog), this guy made a point of excusing/downplaying his actions when I brought it up.

    2) When the K of C put out a statement on immigration that was insufficiently hard on brown people, he declared his intention to resign as financial secretary A.S.A.P. (I myself resigned from the Knights some months later, but for entirely different reasons);

    3) When the parish reopened for Mass but required everyone over the age of two to wear masks, he moved his family to the local S.S.P.X. chapel because they have no such restrictions;

    4) He was actually present at the Capitol Riot in D.C. on January 6 and – although he wasn’t part of the rout that breached the Capitol Building – he went out of his way to downplay the whole thing and claimed that it was all the fault of Antifa provocateurs.

    1. It is a rare thing indeed for a member of the TLM community to acknowledge the pathologies and not simply launch into a torrent of denial and accusation. I salute you for your integrity.

    2. @ arthur

      “ He was actually present at the Capitol Riot in D.C. on January 6 and – although he wasn’t part of the rout that breached the Capitol Building – he went out of his way to downplay the whole thing and claimed that it was all the fault of Antifa provocateurs.”

      This should tell you everything you need to know. 300 people of been arrested so far, and not one of them seems to be antifa or share an acquaintance with George Soros.

      Years ago, I was in law enforcement. It was not unusual to have the following scenario: a woman sets her purse down ina restaurant, a guy walks by and snatches it, and five minutes later is observed making purchases with her credit cards. He is caught and pleads guilty. He tells me, “it wasn’t me, it was someone else. And besides, I was somewhere else at the time.“ I’m not making this up.

      Your guy is the same quality of human being. “I’m not responsible for what other people did, and besides, someone else made them do it.“

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