Rising Tide of Restrictions on Religion
ANALYSIS September 20, 2012
Summary of Findings
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Changes in Government Restrictions
Changes in Social Hostilities
Changes in Overall Restrictions
Patterns among Specific Types of Restrictions and Hostilities
Harassment of Specific Groups
Regions and Countries
About the Study
A rising tide of restrictions on religion spread across the world between mid-2009 and mid-2010, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life. Restrictions on religion rose in each of the five major regions of the world - including in the Americas and sub-Saharan Africa, the two regions where overall restrictions previously had been declining.
The share of countries with high or very high restrictions on religious beliefs and practices rose from 31% in the year ending in mid-2009 to 37% in the year ending in mid-2010. Because some of the most restrictive countries are very populous, three-quarters of the world’s approximately 7 billion people live in countries with high government restrictions on religion or high social hostilities involving religion, up from 70% a year earlier.
Restrictions on religion rose not only in countries that began the year with high or very high restrictions or hostilities, such as Indonesia and Nigeria, but also in many countries that began with low or moderate restrictions or hostilities, such as Switzerland and the United States. (See sidebar on the U.S..)