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Religious organizations operate churches, temples, monasteries, and similar places of worship. The largest groups include Christians, Muslims, and Hindus; major Christian churches include Roman Catholic, Southern Baptist, United Methodist, and Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Religious organizations count billions of followers worldwide. Christians are the largest group (33 percent of world population), followed by Muslims (21 percent), and Hindus (13 percent). Among Christians, Catholics are the most numerous, accounting for 17 percent of world population, according to the CIA World Factbook. Sizes of individual congregations vary greatly.
In the US and Canada, religious organizations include more than 335,000 establishments with about 145 million members, according to the Yearbook of American & Canadian Churches and the Hartford Institute. Moderate growth is forecast for the next two years, driven by favorable demographics such as larger numbers of older people and an influx of Hispanic immigrants, many of whom are Catholic.
Demand is driven by consumers' desire for spiritual growth, guidance, inspiration, and by demographics -- older Americans are most likely to attend church. The profitability of a church depends primarily on the congregation's ability to attract members who can provide financial support. Large congregations have advantages in their ability to offer more programs and activities. Small congregations can compete effectively by maintaining stronger connections with members. About one-quarter of Americans say they attend services once a week or more, according ...
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