The US census bureau has not questioned Americans about religion since 1950s but some data had been collected by the federal government for about a century before that. Federal and assistant marshals who acted as census enumerators until the civil war, collected data from religious leaders and clergy members, on the numbers of churches, their religion as well as the seating capacities and property values. According to census analysis journal of 2010, the census bureau has been allowed to ask questions about religious practices only on a voluntary basis in some population and household survey (U.S. Censes, 2010). Only information gathered on religion and churches is on economic data or places of worship and establishments operated by the church.
The US census bureau does not have much on the religious affiliation of Americans as prohibited by the public law; 94-521. It restricts the US census bureau from asking questions regarding religious affiliation on a mandatory basis, therefore the census bureau does not give the source for data on religion and hence information obtained was retrieved from religious organizations. From 1999, approximately 168 million Americans identified themselves with certain religious group, and the majority of these, 158 million claimed to be Christians and the rest of the group were Jews 5.8 million, Muslims 3 million, and the rest making up the remaining percentage.
Hinduism is among the most ancient of the eastern religions and it has a great influence on western civilization and through the years it has given rise to some cults and religious movements. In the first decade of the twenty-first century, recognition to Hinduism culture in America had increasingly risen among religious schools although the appreciation of its presence lags behind in comparison to Buddhism. Approximately 1.2 million Hindus in the United States live almost undetectable on the edge of the American religious community and thus Hindu centers have increased in the recent times. The most visible influence of Hinduism culture that has penetrated American lifestyle is the practice of yoga. American Hindu community is concentrated around 260 new Hindu temples, many of which are constructed using the traditional Indian architectural designs, most of the buildings were previously built for different purposes, including a number of former Christian churches according to Gordon Melton and Constance Jones (2011).
Hinduism has survived most odds. Hinduism is very elastic and tolerant although it is authoritative and firm concerning the principles governing the religion; its growth has continuously increased. Through adjusting of some non essential and external factors has created a venue for revision and strengthening of the religion. Hinduism is considered as the synthesis of all types of religious backgrounds. It is wide and has a complete approach to life thereby characterized by broad acceptance, in-depth humanity and high spiritual purpose. These have made Hinduism strong and profound enhancing its survival against criticism of its followers. Its foundations also have been laid upon strong spiritual truths and external truths and Hinduism has a great future ahead (Gordon Melton, Constance Jones 2011).
For the last 18 years, all denominations of Buddhists religions experienced unparalleled growth in U.S. From the years 1990 to 2001 Buddhism had expanded and become fourth out of the most practiced religions in America. The success of Buddhism in America and western world is largely attributed to Buddha's central message of compassion, understanding and rationality. In which individual experience spiritual concern exceeds the traditional western religious fears. Its growth is also contributed by the uprising generation of native Buddhists teachers who have gained the art of communication of the Dharma to non Buddhists. They have also adopted modern organizational techniques to maintain and propagate Dharma.
Judaism is multi-denominational religion with three major subjects; orthodox, conservative, and Reform Judaism. The basic history of this religious domain started in Germany, where the official break with Orthodox Judaism began. At the beginning of 2010 the world's Jewish population was approximated at 13,428,300 showing an increase of 80,300 over the 2009 estimate. Jewish population size and composition reflect the continuous interplay of various factors influenced by internal and external factors. External factors that have largely contributed are geopolitical and social economic factors changes in the world thus affecting greatly the Jewish population trends (Wright, 2002).
The disintegration of the Soviet Union political, the economical instability and the democratization process and Jewish population transfers such as migration of Jews from central and South America to the United States particularly in Southern California and South Florida played a big role in modeling the composition and populations of the Jewish population. Internal factors determining the population structure factors were the regulation of births and deaths. The international migration identification passages which actually did not restrict physical movement but rather the willingness to identify with a certain ethnic group according to Sergio DellaPergio (2010) have also influenced its growth.
Islam is among the fastest growing religion in the world. According to the population estimates there were 1.3 - 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide almost equal to the 25 percent of the entire world population. The Muslim communities in the U.S have increased rapidly since 1960s. This growth is mostly driven by high immigration, widespread conversion efforts and high birthrates.
Of the 1,200 mosques constructed in the United States almost 80 percent have been built in the past 12 years. In 2005, 96,000 immigrants originating from the Islamic countries become permanent residents in the US. Islam has the highest conversion rates of all other religions in the world. In the United States one-third of all American-Muslims are African-Americans who have been converted to Islam in the last 70 years (Muslim Population Growth). The Muslim share of the global population will rise because of their relatively high birth rates, large numbers of Muslims childbearing, increased life expectancy in Muslim countries.
However, while the global Muslim population is estimated to grow faster than the non-Muslim population, it is expected to slow down in the next 20 years than it did in past two decades. From 1990 to 2010, the global Muslim population increased at an average annual rate of 2.2 percent, for the period from 2010 to 2030. This rate of growth is projected to be 1.5 percent in the future.
Christians today in the world's largest religion, it represents at least the quarter of the world's population and is also considered as the sole inspiration behind the second largest religion of the world, Islam. Christianity developed as a small sect of Judaism during the life of Jesus. But its populations have radically grown in just four centuries becoming the most dominant religion of the entire world. Therefore, Christianity is both the worlds largest and in some religion, its fastest growing religion with the most of that growth placed in the developing world. Christianity explosive growth in Africa was totally unexpected at the era of independence from the colonial rule. Christianity in the developing countries is on the rise too, it's no longer considered as the religion of the west any more.
Christianity has penetrated the remote locations on earth. Places considered unreachable several decades ago have now become new spots of Christian growth; hundreds of new churches have been put up in these areas (Jenkins, 2002).
Religions have the history of a long time being followed by man and despite the differences they all have many similarities. All regions condemn moral decay and unacceptable behaviors. Religion is an important means through which many people form an identity within their society. However, of greater importance is to understand the different kinds of religions and respecting their points of view as the underlying goal of all regions is to create a common understanding.