Under the leadership of Simon Peter, his disciples interpreted Jesus' message as having been intended for the Jews. Saul of Tarsus, a Greek Jew, received a personal vision, and devoted the rest of his life to spreading Jesus' gospel to the Gentiles (non-Jews). The Jewish Christians were scattered or annihilated in 70 CE when the Romans attacked and sacked Jerusalem. The churches that Paul established grew rapidly.
In 313 CE, after years of persecution, Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire. It has since grown to become the largest religion in the world, claiming about one in three of the world's population as members.
Eastern Orthodox Churches do not formally recognize the Apostle's Creed, although there is little in it that they would disagree with.
A lengthy power struggle between eastern and western Christendom culminated in a split between the Eastern Orthodox churches and the Western Rite (Roman Catholic Church) in 1054. Many sects formed throughout the middle ages (Cathars, Knights Templars, etc). These were generally exterminated in wars of genocide. Martin Luther attacked certain policies and beliefs of the Church and the authority of the pope in 1517. He was followed by other reformers to produce a mass movement: the Protestant Reformation.
In present-day North America, the Roman Catholic Church is the largest religious group. About 15 Eastern Orthodox churches mirror the Orthodox churches of many countries of Eastern Europe. Protestant churches include Baptists, Church of Christ, Episcopalians (US) / Anglicans (Canada), Lutherans, Methodists, Pentecostal, Presbyterians, and United Church of Canada.
In Canada, the 1991 census found that 85% of the population are Christian: 54% are Roman Catholics, 43% Protestants, 2% Eastern Orthodox, 2% other.
In general, the more conservative churches are rapidly growing in membership; the main line churches are in decline. The Unitarian-Universalist is growing. It is a liberal religion which is grouped with Christianity by Statistics Canada in the census; some would consider it to have left Christianity.
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