In support of free speech

The Press Complaints Commission has received many thousands of complaints about Jan Moir’s article about Stephen Gately in last week’s Daily Mail. I have just emailed them in support of free speech. You can contact them here.

My email read…

Good afternoon,

I wish to support the free speech of Jan Moir and the freedom of the press. The concerted efforts by the homosexual lobby to continually try to outlaw any dissenting opinions to their own should frighten us all when wider society sides with them against the majority.

I am not a particular fan of the Daily Mail and I don’t agree with everything Jan Moir wrote, but freedom of speech is at stake. Either it is for all of us, or it is only for special interest groups.

It is also worth considering that a great many people hate the Daily Mail for its politics and so would have taken this opportunity to attack it.

I ask you, therefore, to consider the complaints you have received with these things in mind and reject them in favour of the freedom to speak and write as we are used to doing in our country.

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,

Stewart Cowan,

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85 Responses to In support of free speech

  1. P Gibbs says:

    Regarding 35,000+ Christian denominations
    English Viking wrote: “Name them, and I will concede.”

    Okay, here’s a list of quite a few to get you started:
    Note: This is not a complete list, but aims to provide a comprehensible overview of the diversity among denominations of Christianity. As there are reported to be over 38,000 Christian denominations,[1] many of which cannot be verified to be significant, only those denominations with Wikipedia articles will be listed in order to ensure that all entries on this list are notable and verifiable.

  2. English Viking says:

    P Gibbs

    I’ve got to give you an ‘A’ for effort, but I’m afraid the content is more than a little light.

    The list you give is less than 2000 and includes such nonsenses as ‘Aryan Nations’ ‘Seventh Day Adventists’ and ‘Mormons’, all of which are most obviously Christian cults and not adherents of the teachings of Christ ergo are not Christian denominations. I have never disputed the sad fact that modern day Christianity is represented by many different denominations, possibly even thousands. I dispute that there are over 35,000, a point that you have made on several occasions without any corroborating evidence. Your latest post still fails to prove your point, rather it tends to prove mine.

    BTW, Wikipedia is about as definitive as The Beano.

    Once again, name them, and I will concede.

  3. P Gibbs says:

    We’re still waiting for even a scintilla of evidence for your own unsubstantiated claim that there are not 35,000+ Christian denominations.

  4. English Viking says:

    Proving a negative, well, you really should know better!

    Name them (you really can’t, can you?) and I will concede.

  5. P Gibbs says:

    You lose.
    Associated Press:
    World Christian Encyclopedia, Bavid Barrett
    Since adding a religion doctorate from Columbia University to his technical background, he has spent 40 years systematizing information on world religions, a calling he discovered while assigned as an Anglican missionary in Africa. Now 73, Barrett recently culminated his oddly remarkable career with publication of the second edition of his global accounting of faiths and the faithful — trends, details and his best estimated count of believers of all religions in each of 238 nations and territories.

    Never has there been such a thorough reference as the two large volumes, running 1,699 pages, of the World Christian Encyclopedia, published by Oxford University Press. Barrett has doggedly visited most of the lands in person, collecting raw material, including national census figures and United Nations data, and recruiting the 444 specialists who feed him material. Among them: Vatican missions librarian Willi Henkel and editor J. Gordon Melton of the Encyclopedia of American Religions. Barrett’s encyclopedia sought to count each human being in each religion and religious subcategory in each country as of 1900, 1970, 1990, 1995 and 2000, with projections to 2025.

    The 2001 edition, successor to his 1982 first edition, which took a decade to compile, identifies 10,000 distinct religions, of which 150 have 1 million or more followers. Within Christianity, he counts 33,820 denominations.

    Barrett also calculates religious populations for the Encyclopedia Britannica Book of the Year, standard estimates that are used in turn by the World Almanac and innumerable journalists. Such numbers are always debatable, but they’re the best available. “We don’t really have any rivals,” Barrett says. “That’s the problem.”

    Title: World Christian Encyclopedia : a comparative survey of churches and religions in the modern world
    Authors: David B. Barrett, George T. Kurian, Todd M. Johnson.
    Edition: 2nd ed.
    Published: Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2001.
    Description: 2 v. : ill., col. maps ; 32 cm.
    Notes: Includes bibliographical references and indexes.
    v. 1. The world by countries : religionists, churches, ministries
    v. 2. The world by segments : religions, peoples, languages, cities, topics.

  6. Jim Baxter says:

    What criteria did he use to decide that any one supposed denomination was distinct from the others? Just asking out of an interest in research methods.

  7. English Viking says:

    Constantly quoting the same person who himself quotes disputed figures is not going to do it.

    The point that I am making is that you seem very keen on quoting the figure of 35,500, as though it is a fact, when in reality it is little more than one man’s opinion, something we have discussed before in relation to other matters. Mr Baxter has beaten me to the next point but it bears repeating: how has he differentiated between groups? Just because a group may have a different name, does not necessarily mean it has different doctrine. Churches in different nations are bound to be called something different, but they do not all differ in their doctrine and therefore are not different denominations. The fact that he has classified as a Christian denomination the ‘Aryan Nation’, a white supremacist, neo-nazi organisation with close links to the Aryan Brotherhood, an extremely violent prison gang in America (only in America!) is evidence that he might have been a bit too ecumenical for most Christian’s liking!

    You shouldn’t quote ‘facts’ and figures that you cannot substantiate and are obviously not familiar with yourself, because when someone like me asks you to prove the fact, by giving the conclusive list so that these claims can be accepted or rejected, you cannot do it. The man himself admits that his numbers are ‘debatable’ and that there is no other organisation to check or compare his findings with.

    So, to summarise,

    1. The opinion that there are over 35,500 denominations of the Christian faith is exactly that, an opinion.
    2. This opinion is disputed by many, a fact the author admits.
    3. In order to prove the assertion, every one of them will need to listed and investigated. As you obviously don’t know them and have steadfastly refused to name them, because you are unable to, I am safe to assume that this opinion is not one which should be taken seriously.
    4. You appear to be very selective about which Christians to believe. When one (like Barrett) claims something you agree with, even though you have made only the most cursory of investigations into the veracity of his claims, you accept him without question and seem to think everybody else should too, as the man is an eminent Christian. When one like myself, or Stewart, claims something about Christianity you disagree with, you reject it out of hand because, well, those sort of Christians are just a bit dodgy, aren’t they?

    And again please, name them and I will concede.

  8. P Gibbs says:

    Sore loser!

  9. English Viking says:

    Keep evading, or you could even resort to name-calling. Maybe I’ll forget that you cannot prove your case. Then again, maybe I won’t. Name them.

  10. P Gibbs says:

    Email from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary “Global Christianity”

    Thank you for your inquiry. I can assure you that the figure of 39,000 is in no way inflated. This number represents our most current, up-to-date data. As we are constantly updating this figure, it is not published in print form. The figure of 33,800 from the year 2000 was printed in our book World Christian Trends, (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2001). Part 12 of World Christian Trends (WCT), Table 12-1 gives figures of denominational totals for all 238 countries of the world. These figures are also represented graphically in WCT on page 917, Global Map 14. The definition for denominations used in WCT, and also in our publication World Christian Encyclopedia (Oxford, 2001) is as follows:

    “Any agency consisting of a number of congregations or churches voluntarily aligning themselves with it. As a statistical unit in this survey, a ‘denomination’ always refers to one single country. Thus the Roman Catholic Church, although a single organization, is described here as consisting of 236 denominations in the world’s 238 countries.”

    More precise listings of denominations can be found in the World Christian Encyclopedia, under the article for each country. These lists are not exhaustive, as there are too many small denominations to list separately, but they should help give a clearer picture. Furthermore, the Southern Baptist Convention has over 40,000 congregations in the US alone; not to mention the Baptist General Conference, Baptist Bible Fellowship International, etc. So we are definitely not counting each congregation as its own denomination. We are also not lumping all Baptists into a single denomination, but counting each organization separately. I hope this information helps.

    Justin J. Evans
    Research Assistant
    Center for the Study of Global Christianity

    Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
    130 Essex Street #228
    South Hamilton, MA 01982 USA
    World Christian Encyclopedia

    Your Total “Christian Denominations” Count for today is 41122
    Please pray for Christian unity (John 17; Eph 4:5; Matt 16:18)

  11. English Viking says:

    Mr Gibbs,

    The three web-sites you list as evidence of your claim that there are 35,500 different denominations do no such thing.

    World Christian Database web site you link to (Gordon Conwell Seminary) cites a figure of 9000, which admits to categorising Baptists with slightly different names on their church notice boards as different denominations, even though they have the same doctrine. This is not an accurate method of categorising denominations, nor, for example, is categorising The Roman Catholic Church as 236 denominations because it features in as many countries. Ask the Pope ( I think he’ll know) how many denominations of Catholicism there are.

    The figures are derived solely from Mr Baxter’s work, a fact confirmed on the second of your links. I have already shown these figures to be;

    i) Not peer-reviewed, an essential element in any research of any worth.
    ii) An opinion, not demonstrable fact.
    iii) Viewed with suspicion by other Christians, chiefly but not exclusively because it includes nut-jobs like the Aryan Nation and faulty methods of classification (Did you ask the Pope yet?)
    iv) i,ii and iii are facts acknowledged by the author, Mr Baxter, he of the unexplained ‘missiometrics’.

    The second and third web-sites are the same organisation as the first and refer only (in relation to the number of denominations) to the Baxter figures, linking back to the first web-site. They are both Gordon Conwell (is there a clue in the name?) Seminary websites, which themselves appear to be bookstores and adverts for seminary courses.

    Of the 3 verses you mention (but do not quote, nor state the version read), Matt 16 v 18 is irrelevant if used to imply that the Church should display unity. Eph 4 v 5 is closer, but needs to be read as a chapter, in which you will then find the full context, which is that unity is something that takes time to achieve, is only achieved by mature Christians and the lack of unity in a person’s attitudes is a sign of ignorance or immaturity, which is to be overcome by a devotion to Christ. John 17 is about unity (1 out of 3 ain’t bad), and I have repeatedly stated that it is a very sad fact that the Church (the worldwide body of believers) does not display unity as it should.

    You appear desperate to try to prove your case, even going so far as to cite 3 websites which temselves cite only the disputed Baxter figures as their source of information, which figures have already been proven unreliable. You have changed your claim of more than 35,500 to less than 2000 to 41,122 in the space of 2 days, even though you use the same source material for those figures and one of the web-sites you quote uses the figure 9000. You appear to think that you are involved in some kind of childish game, where beating me is the aim (cf the ‘you lose!’ and ‘loser’ statements in previous posts) because perhaps then you will think that if you can prove me wrong, then Christians are wrong, and then Christ is wrong, and then Christianity is wrong…

    I have been known to be wrong and one day (though not soon, if current performance is an accurate indication) you will prove me so. But not by constantly quoting the same and only source material you have for this/these figure/s (delete according to the latest total you have imagined is correct), not by repeatedly showing yourself unwilling to list the organisations (because you can’t), not by quoting (kind of) scripture out of context, not by posting links to three differently named websites in the vain hope that I won’t notice that they all belong to the same organisation, not by putting so much stead in a man whose eminence in the field of missiometrics is undisputed, but as yet have been unable to find a dictionary with a definition of just exactly what missiometrics is. One day I will be wrong, and you will be right. But not this day.

    Name them, not a website, magazine or person who claims such figures without proof, name the organisations. It’s really not that difficult, surely? If I asked you to name the books of The Bible, or the teams in the Football League, or to recite the Periodic Table of the Elements, you would be able to. If you cannot or will not name them, individually, 41,122 of them, your huffing and puffing will not blow my house down and the reader might conclude that the reason for your inability to do so is because you can’t, because there are nowhere near the figure you desperately hope for.

  12. P Gibbs says:

    Why are you getting so rattled English Viking?

    I quote what is the ultimate reference book on world religion, the two volume monumental set, World Christian Encyclopedia, released in mid-2001, by Oxford University Press. It contains 1699 pages with information about religion in the 238 countries of the world:

    According to David Barrett et al, editors of the “World Christian Encyclopedia: A comparative survey of churches and religions – AD 30 to 2200,” there are 19 major world religions which are subdivided into a total of 270 large religious groups, and many smaller ones.
    34,000 separate Christian groups have been identified in the world. “Over half of them are independent churches that are not interested in linking with the big denominations.”

    * David Barrett et al, “World Christian Encyclopedia: A comparative survey of churches and religions – AD 30 to 2200,” Oxford University Press, (2001).

    If you disagree with the statistics presented and the manner in which they were compiled you could take it up with those who did the research and compliled the statistics … why not present your off the top of your head opinions as evidence to them.

  13. English Viking says:

    Why not present a list of 41,122 denominations and I’ll shut up.

  14. English Viking says:

    As your latest total has been revised (down) yet again, I’ll settle for 34,000, a conveniently round figure.

  15. P Gibbs says:

    English Viking
    “Why not present a list of 41,122 denominations and I’ll shut up.”

    I have a better idea …why not simply shut up. If you really require a list of each of these denominations I suggest you buy the book, it’s all in there and you already have the references…try perhaps.

    English Viking wrote:
    “As your latest total has been revised (down) yet again, I’ll settle for 34,000, a conveniently round figure.”

    Sorry but 41,122 Christian denominations is the current up to date figure according to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity as was pointed out in a previous post.

  16. English Viking says:

    P Gibbs

    In your penultimate post, you said:

    ‘34,000 separate Christian groups have been identified in the world.’

    In your latest post you claim a figure of 41,112, the same figure sometimes used by yourself in other posts. I say sometimes, because you have also used the numbers ‘35,000+’, ‘35,500’, ‘34,000’, ‘33,820’,’over 38,000′, besides directing me to a Wiki page that listed less than 2,000 and a Seminary website which only has details on 9,000, non of which details are accessible on the current site.

    You appear confused on the grounds of your own argument, Mr Gibbs.

    The fact of the matter is that you don’t know the names of the ridiculous number you have claimed, you can’t find them, despite desperately trying to by communicating with places as far afield as the US, you have attempted to confuse the issue with misquoted scriptures and name calling, but the easiest way of proving yourself right is simply to name them.

    You have evaded and avoided long enough. Name them or else admit that you can’t, that you quoted a figure that suited your purposes without checking it or, indeed, whether anybody else had (they hadn’t, it’s not peer-reviewed). That you thought it would sound impressive to quote an Professor of Missiometrics, even though you don’t what missiometrics are (neither do I, nor anybody else I know). This is boring and repetitive, just name them, or shut up yourself.

  17. P Gibbs says:

    The figures quoted are from different articles and from different editions of Barretts book some the higher figures are simply more recently updated, I hope that’s not too difficult for you to get your head around.

    Econometrics = involves statistics to do with the economy
    Missiometrics = involves statistics to do with religious missions/missionaries, not so very mysterious. But go take your complaint along to David Barrett’s representatives if you don’t like the term he couined for his work.

    You are quite right that you are repetitive and boring.

    Don’t expect me to type a list here of all 41,000 Christian Denominations for you, they are not available online due to copyright as far as I’m aware and in any case it would take up too much space here, go and buy the book by all means where you will find these lists.
    Otherwise perhaps you could request a copy of the lists here, you never know they might oblige:
    Justin J. Evans
    Research Assistant
    Center for the Study of Global Christianity

    Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
    130 Essex Street #228
    South Hamilton, MA 01982 USA
    World Christian Encyclopedia

    There is only one definitive major study providing statistics for the number of Christian denominations in existence globally and it is the one conducted over 40yrs or so by David Barrett et al… if you don’t like it then please carry on with your pointless guess work and trying to bluff others that you know better without having read his book.

  18. Jim Baxter says:

    I don’t wish to intrude on a private, er, discussion, but as an outsider it seems to me the point at issue depends entirely on what is meant by a single word, i.e., denomination. To the extent that the meaning of that word is susceptible to variations of interpretation the quality of research which revolves around it must be in question. Words are the tokens of the wise and the currency of fools.

  19. P Gibbs says:

    As previously posted.
    The definition for denominations used in WCT, and also in our publication World Christian Encyclopedia (Oxford, 2001) is as follows:

    “Any agency consisting of a number of congregations or churches voluntarily aligning themselves with it. As a statistical unit in this survey, a ‘denomination’ always refers to one single country. Thus the Roman Catholic Church, although a single organization, is described here as consisting of 236 denominations in the world’s 238 countries.”

    Hope this helps.

  20. Stewart Cowan says:

    “I don’t wish to intrude on a private, er, discussion…”

    My neither, Jim, but I’m in a reply-to-previous-comments sort of mood.

    Mr Gibbs wrote that: “34,000 separate Christian groups have been identified in the world. “Over half of them are independent churches that are not interested in linking with the big denominations.”

    I attend an independent Baptist church, but it couldn’t be described as a separate denomination. As Jim says, it depends how you define ‘denomination’.

  21. English Viking says:

    P Gibbs

    ‘if you don’t like it then please carry on with your pointless guess work and trying to bluff others that you know better without having read his book.’

    And you have read his book? If not (you haven’t) then perhaps taking the beam out of your own eye before you point out a speck in mine would be in order.

    My mate Dave says that there aren’t as many as you say, and he has conducted extensive research over the last 40 years or so. He can’t show you this research you understand, copyright restrictions apparently. Nobody else has seen it either, but he has set up a website that tries to flog his books and big up his reputation. He’s got a Doctorate in Obfuscology and a Masters in Confusificationalism. Really clever chap. Actually, when I say mate, I’ve never actually met him, or anybody else that has either. I just like to quote his work because it suits my own ends, and then I can appear intellectual, but only to those who don’t know any better.

    You see the problem you’ve got now Mr Gibbs, don’t you?

  22. English Viking says:

    Mr Baxter, Mr Cowan,

    Intrude whenever you see fit, be my guests.

    You are both absolutely right, the definition of ‘denomination’ is crucial. The fact that the Gospel according to Gibbs describes Catholicism as having 236 denominations, by virtue of the fact that they appear in as many countries is, to my mind, evidence that Mr Gibbs’ definition is faulty. I would not normally continue to contest what, to some, is a minor point of no particular relevance. That I do continue is because Mr Gibbs apparently wishes that there were an enormous number of real denominations, because he thinks that this would prove that Christianity is false, hence his sarcastic misquoting of scripture in an earlier post. He tries to use faulty and unproven figures, from a man who invents grand-sounding titles for himself, to attempt to further the notion that Christianity is a fractured and disjointed institution which serves no purpose other than its own. That he should believe such things is his business. That he attempts to spread such falsehoods is also his business, but he then cannot be surprised if people challenge his non-sensical, illogical and false opinions and make it their business too.

  23. Jim Baxter says:

    “Any agency consisting of a number of congregations or churches voluntarily aligning themselves with it. As a statistical unit in this survey, a ‘denomination’ always refers to one single country. Thus the Roman Catholic Church, although a single organization, is described here as consisting of 236 denominations in the world’s 238 countries.”

    Hope this helps.’

    Thanks Mr G. I’d noticed that before. It was helpful of you to repost it though. I was attmpting to make a more general point about how you can hijack a word that people think they know and make it mean something a bit different. Or a lot different.

    English, thank you for introducing me to the higher degree title ‘Doctor of Obfuscology’. I intend to have a certificate made up annointing me officially with that qualification, from the University of La La Land, a country to which I would emigrate if we didn’t all live there already.

  24. Jim Baxter says:

    … and so… the unwary, naive in the martial art that is logomachy, may assume that you are using the word as they understand it and will gaze upon your work with awe, when all it really desreves is, ‘nah’.

  25. P Gibbsp says:

    English Viking, I suggest you try to make your contributions a lot less personal in future debates/discussions if you want to be taken seriously by anyone at all.

    Providing some reference to source material as evidence & backup for your opinions & statements, even arguments if you had any at all, would be useful. Where are your figures,statistics and references English Viking?

    Whatever the quality of David Barrett’s research please stop imagining/implying his research and statistics are mine.

    You’ve steered this thread way off topic, the actual topic is “In support of free speech” in case anyone has totally forgotten.

  26. English Viking says:

    Mr Gibbsp (Double-barrel or typo?)

    Your new yellow screen-tag is very fetching!

    I have not steered the conversation off-topic, you asked me to ‘fess up’ concerning which one of the alleged 35,000 denominations I was a member of, remember?

    I do not need to provide references for proving a negative when the person who asserts otherwise can ONLY prove that one man (Grand Poobah of Missiometrics), Mr Barrett, is of the downright laughable opinion (Aryan Nation? Be reasonable) that there is an enormous number of denominations, but only if you use a definition of ‘denomination’ that nobody else uses. ‘My mate Dave’ is an equally reliable source.

    I do not imply that Barrett’s work is your own, but I do say that as you seem so keen on quoting it as final and conclusive proof of your point, despite having never read it, the use of the words ‘your figures’ etc are justified.

    You call me a loser, repetitive and boring, amongst other things, and then say I’m being personal. Pot and kettle. I care little whether you or anyone else takes me seriously, I have long since ceased to be concerned about the opinions of men in relation to my personal standing. What does concern me is that someone may jump to wrong conclusions by reading the false proof of the false statements concerning Christianity that you seem keen on quoting.

    I shall continue to contend for the Faith.

  27. P Gibbs says:

    Your mate Dave is an imaginary character English Viking, can’t you see that there is a world of difference between him and David Barrett a real person and one who spent many years doing statistical research along with his many helpers, all of which has been published, and not to diminish his work, for lack of any competition remains the only authoritative source for statistics on the number of Christian denominations in the world at present.

    Meanwhile all you have produced is fudge, more fudge and sadly pathetic attempts to ridicule what you find an inconvenient statistic to accept. Regardless of actual numbers …that there are simply thousands upon thousands of Christian denominations… the upshot of which upsets you incredibly because it clearly illustrates that any claim you make that there is a consensus on interpretation of scripture is clearly false.

  28. English Viking says:

    Mr Gibbs,

    Back in blue Sir, and someone appears to have taken your ‘p’!

    I say again, yet again, I have never disputed that there are a large number of denominations and Christian unity displayed to the world today is sadly lacking. One reason, although by no means the only reason, is because some people call themselves Christian who are in fact no such thing, allowing people like you to point them out and say what a useless bunch they are.

    Can’t you see that there is no difference, from the point of view of the statistical veracity of the figures given, between ‘my mate Dave’ and someone who invents words to make himself sound clever, who will only let you see his work if you give him cash, who arbitrarily re-defines the meanings of words, whose books are not available in public libraries, whose ‘research’ is nothing more than an opinion. The fact that, so far, he is in glorious isolation in his conclusions and ‘research’ is most definitely not evidence of it being correct. The fact that he admits his figures are disputed and that they have never been compared to anybody else’s is, again, evidence of untrustworthy data.

    Finally, you revert to the age-old tactic of erecting a straw-man to try to silence me. I have not now, nor have I ever claimed… ‘that there is a consensus on interpretation of scripture’. You paint me a fool by putting words in my mouth and then condemn me for those words. A sure sign your opponent knows his argument is lost, all further lines of advance exhausted, the last, desperate attempt to divert attention from the fact that you cannot name these denominations that you claim exist, you have never read a document that lists them, you have only the word of a single man who wishes to sell you his unverified opinion on the matter. You might buy it, I won’t.

    PS I’m not ‘incredibly upset’. I just have a mild irritation, similar to the one a person gets when bitten by a gnat.

  29. P Gibbs says:

    Have you asked your library to obtain a copy for you? perhaps you really should.

  30. English Viking says:

    Mr Gibbs,

    You’re gonna love this.

    I took your advice and attempted to get a copy of the 41,112 names of the individual denominations that you claim, even though you have not seen any evidence of this total, except on a website selling the supposed list. I contacted The Centre for the Study of Global Christianity, the very same organisation you obtained your figure from, in an effort to get a copy of this list. It doesn’t exist, and below is a full transcript of their reply.

    Thank you for your inquiry concerning the number of Christian denominations
    in the world today.

    To my knowledge, there is no single listing of every

    The Center for the Study of Global Christianity, however,
    estimates that there are some 41,000 denominations worldwide (counting each
    denomination separately in each country in which it has a presence).

    The World Christian Database (WCD), maintained by the Center for the Study
    of Global Christianity, includes data on more than 9,000 denominations.

    Access to the WCD is by subscription only, however, and the current cost is
    $2,000 per year. In addition, although subscribers can view a list of
    denominations online, downloading the entire list is a violate of copyright
    and fair use laws.

    The World Christian Encyclopedia (WCE) includes listings of many thousands
    of denominations (most of the 9,000+ in the WCD, plus the names only for a
    large fraction of the 41,000). Denominations are listed in articles about
    each of the world’s 238 countries. The WCE may be ordered from a variety of
    online book retailers, at a cost of around $300 (depending on the retailer).
    Again, however, preparing a listing of all the world’s denominations from
    the information in the WCE would violate copyright and fair use laws.

    I hope that this information is helpful. If you have any questions, please
    feel free to e-mail me.


    Center for the Study of Global Christianity
    Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
    130 Essex Street
    South Hamilton, MA 01982

    I have edited only the correspondent’s name and number, for obvious reasons.

    The facts, as appear to me, are thus;

    i) The only source you have for your claim of 41,112 Christian denominations do not have a list of this number and know of no such list, held with themselves or anywhere else.
    ii) They claim a figure of only ‘9000’ odd, and reveal that the figure of 41,112 is estimated and that neither they nor the WCE have comprehensive details to substantiate this number.
    iii) The counting process includes duplicates of every denomination, if that denomination appears in more than one country. It is counted again, every time it appears in a different country.

    If we accept that there are 236 countries in the world, as the WCE does, and we then give a very conservative estimate that Christianity is represented in some form or other in 50% of them, it is possible that there has been a gross over-estimate of the actual individual denominations. It is highly likely that all mainstream denominatonions are represented within the low figure of 50%, and if we generously reduce this total by a further 50% to account for denominations which are not double listed then a likely total, using WCE statistics and NOT the double (or triple, or quadruple, etc.) counting method they have, we would get a figure of around 700.


    236 countries worldwide x 50% = 118 where Christianity is present x 50% to eliminate single listing of tiny Dnms = 59 countries x 700 uniquely distinct Dnms (my estimate)= 41,300 (Mr Gibbs’ near estimate when multiple counts are included).

    If we do not allow the very generous reductions in the number of countries represented, nor the possibility of a large amount of single entries, we could end with a figure as low as 260 uniquely distinct denominations.

    236 countries worldwide x 90% = 212 where Christianity is present x 75% to eliminate single listing of tiny Dnms = 159 countries x 260 uniquely distinct Dnms (my estimate)=41340 (Mr Gibbs, near estimate).

    Of couse, it may be possible that there are tens of thousands of denominations which are unique, single entities, which are not subject to multiple counts, but then the questions have to be asked ‘why is a denomination is not represented on a global scale, and is it fair to call one man and his dog, in a barn in Arizona, a denomination?’.

    We could fiddle with the figures all night. The truth is, nobody really knows how many uniquely distinct denominations there are in the world. Not I, not you Mr Gibbs, most certainly not Mr Barrett and his CWE. All we know is, using the faulty data collection methods that have been used and remembering their failing to even keep a complete list of the number claimed, there is now enough evidence to show that the number of 41,112 is a gross over-estimate, not proven by statistics, experience or evidence. You can’t name them, they can’t name them, the figure is proven false.

  31. PGibbs says:

    English Viking,
    firstly well done for making an enquiry.

    As you have discovered the situation is exactly as I told you regarding copyright and impossibility of downloading of any entire list (a complete list which only you have ever insisted must exist in your several insistent demands that I should supply same to you), you previously cast doubt on my honesty over this so an apology would be in order.

    I am not a statistician I have never given estimates of my own here possibly because my other half does happen to be a statistician so I am fully aware of the rigours involved in that line of work. Please don’t persist in calling any of the figures my estimates, I try mostly to quote my sources.

    The Center for the Study of Global Christianity, estimates
    that there are some 41,000 denominations worldwide, even according to the reply you just received from them yourself. Exactly as I said.

    As you are clearly no statistician you really could as you say “fiddle with the figures” till the cows come home and it would still impress no-one, least of all me.

  32. English Viking says:

    Mr Gibbs,

    Let us let the reader decide which one of us has impugned the other’s honesty, and also the veracity of each other’s opinions.

    That I cast doubt on the existence of a comprehensive list of over 40,000 uniquely distinct denominations is true. That I was correct to do so, as it now transpires that there is no such list in existence, not merely that it is unavailable for download, is also true. If you quote a source as a given fact, it is not unreasonable to call that figure ‘yours’, particularly when you so doggedly rely on your only source as convincing evidence of your point.

    I can assure you that, if I felt I had acted unreasonably, even to one who describes me as ‘full of it’ (‘it’ being excrement), I most certainly would apologise. You could ask Mr Baxter whether this is true. As I offer you no such apology, you must draw your own conclusion for my refusal.

    Further discussion on this matter is pointless, you have been proven conclusively wrong. Post away, there will be no more rebuttals from me, there is no further need.

  33. PGibbs says:

    Get away, you aren’t fooling anyone but yourself, you’re all reactionary puff and wind and have nothing of any substance to contribute here, you never even managed to comment on the topic let alone stay on topic.

    The compulsory display of crosses in all italian classrooms is totally against the spirit of freedom of religion and not one person here has made a case to the contrary.

  34. P Gibbs says:

    See I can change topics at will too…confused? you should be.

  35. English Viking says:

    Mr Gibbs,


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