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This morning I went to the Internet for some quick numbers.  I wanted to know how many Christian sects there are in the world.  This is the sort of thing you might need to know if you read a lot of students’ essays.  The number I first came across was 34,000. 

So I got to thinking about that number.  My mind wanders when I clean the house.  And the more I thought about it, the more I thought, wow!  That’s a lot of sects (which is a fun word to say).  So I decided to double check.  Like always, when I don’t document where I found something on the Internet, there isn’t a chance in hell of ever finding it again.  So I had to start from scratch. 

When verifying the numbers, I had to be really careful about what year something was published in.  I found one list from 2000 and another from 1980.  Fat lot of good those numbers are ever going to do me.

What I found, though, is that 34,000 is more than likely low.  Wikipedia, the font of all knowledge, bows out on listing all the denominations, claiming there are over 38,000, though admittedly, that some of those are a bit difficult to verify.  (List of Christian Denominations)   However, Fairchild (which sounds like a reliable name to me) reports that there are 41,000.  And then there was quite the lively discussion at the Ask Me Help Desk back in 2007.  The general consensus was between 38,000 and 39,000 different sects, but the real discussion centered around nobody’s knowing where those numbers originally came from.  (38,000 Christian) 

So I did the best I could with what I had.  I averaged them, including the unverified 34,000.  And I came up with 38,000, the same as Wikipedia.

But here’s the deal:  Nobody has apparently taken the time to list every possible Christian sect that might exist currently, or even in the past.  Of course, maybe they have and they’re not sharing it with anybody, the bastards.  But in either case, it works out the same.  We need a list!  We need somebody to take charge.  We need somebody to stand up and say, “I’ll do it!”  What better way to give your life meaning!  Of course, you’ll have to define just what a “sect” is, and you’ll probably have to draw the line somewhere.  I mean, do you count “Bob’s Sacred Church of the Divine Me,” even if more than one Bob attends?  But that’s a problem for you to decide.  But do tell us how you decide.  Not much point in doing it at all if you don’t.

And be advised:  There are forty five lines on a page set with default margins, using Times New Roman 12 point font.  If there are 38,000 sects, it would take 845 pages to list them all, assuming that only one religion was listed per line.  Just something to keep in mind before you hit “Print.”


Work Cited

“38,000 Christian Denominations in the World?”  28 June 2007.  Ask Me Help Desk.  29 June 2012.  http://www.askmehelpdesk.com/christianity/38-000-christian-denominations-world-105066.html

Fairchild, Mary.  “Christianity Today -- General Statistics and Facts of Christianity.”  2012.  About.com.  29 June 2012.  http://christianity.about.com/od/denominations/p/christiantoday.htm

“List of Christian Denominations.”  23 June 2012.  Wikipedia.  29 June 2012.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Christian_denominations