The Economist explains: Why is Protestantism flourishing in the developing world?

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PROTESTANTISM has played a large part in the development of the modern, liberal world. It has contributed to the emergence of concepts such as freedom of conscience, tolerance and the separation of powers. But as the world marks the 500th anniversary of the start of the Reformation, the faith’s axis is shifting. The percentage of Western Europeans and North Americans professing Protestantism is declining, whereas in the developing world the proportion is growing fast. For much of the 20th century, global secularisation was considered inevitable as nations modernised. But the developing world is actually becoming more religious, part of what Peter Berger, a sociologist, called the “desecularisation” of the world. At the heart of this religious resurgence have been Islam and Pentecostalism, a branch of Protestant Christianity. Islam grew at an annual average of 1.9% between 2000 and 2017, mainly as the result of a high birth rate. Pentecostalism grew at 2.2% each year, mainly by conversion. Half of developing-world Christians are Pentecostal, evangelical or charismatic (all branches of the faith emphasise the authority of the Bible and the need for a spiritual rebirth). Why are people so attracted to it?Christianity has always had ecstatic elements, but modern Pentecostalism was born …

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