Heard on Campus: Philip Jenkins at the Forum

April 29, 2010

"Back in 1900, there were about 2 million Catholics in Africa. By 2000, there were 130 million Catholics in Africa, which, as my colleague John Allen points out, represents a growth rate over the century of 6,700 percent.… By 2025 you're probably talking about 250 million, and by 2050 it should be around 330 million. It's around about the year 2035 that there are more Catholics in Africa than in Europe, and it's about 2060 that there should be more Catholics in Asia than in Europe. Why about that point? If you rank the continents in terms of number of Catholics, Europe is fifth in place ahead of Australia, oh, and Antarctica. Last year there were more Catholic baptisms in the Phillipines than in France, Spain, Italy and Poland combined, and that is going to increase, that kind of tendency. The Catholic Church is going south, but not in the sense that some of its critics think."

-- Philip Jenkins, Edwin Erle Sparks professor of humanities in the Department of History and Religious Studies at Penn State and distinguished senior fellow of the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University, speaking Thursday, April 29, on the topic of "The World's Religious Map in 2050" at the Penn State Forum, held at the Nittany Lion Inn, University Park, Pa. 

Jenkins has authored numerous papers and more than 20 books on Christianity, its history and its place in modern society. In 2008 he wrote "The Lost History of Christianity," and his most recent book, "Jesus Wars: How Four Patriarchs, Three Queens And Two Emperors Decided What Christians Would Believe For The Next 1,500 Years," was released in March 2010. Jenkins teaches a wide range of graduate and undergraduate courses including Sects, Cults and New Religious Movements; America in the 1960s; American Catholic: Roman Catholicism in 20th Century America; and Beyond the Good War: Politics and Culture in 1940s America. An article he wrote for The New Republic on the same topic as his Forum quote was published on April 29 at http://www.tnr.com/article/politics/gone-south online.

Jenkins' appearance concluded the 2009-2010 Forum Speaker Series. Suggestions for future speakers may be directed to Gail Hurley, chair of the Forum Committee, at gah5@psu.edu or Carol Griffin, Forum staff support, at cjg3@psu.edu.

  • Philip Jenkins, Edwin Erle Sparks professor of history and religious studies at Penn State, spoke on 'The World's Religious Map in 2050' at the Penn State Forum on April 29 in The Nittany Lion Inn.

    IMAGE: Chris Koleno
Last Updated November 18, 2010