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.
“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.