Islam has topped Roman Catholicism as the world's biggest religion for the first time, the Vatican said today. About 1.1 billion people are still Catholic, but Muslims have pulled ahead with 1.3 billion members. “For the first time in history we are no longer at the top: the Muslims have overtaken us,” said a prelate who compiled the Vatican's yearbook of 2008 statistics.
Higher birthrates continue to propel the Muslim population, he said. But he added that if all Christian groups are counted, Christians still exceed Muslims with 2 billion members, or 33% of the population. Yet the Vatican can back up only its own stats; Muslim numbers were tallied by several countries and issued by the United Nations, Reuters reports.