A new study suggests that
government-controlled religion restrictions or social hostilities involving religion are
getting worse in nearly one third of the world.
Of the world’s total population of 6.9 billion, more than 2.2
billion people—32 percent—live in countries where either
government restrictions on religion or social hostilities involving
religion rose substantially between mid-2006 and mid-2009, according
to a new study on global restrictions on religion released Tuesday by
the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life.
Government restrictions or social hostilities declined in only about
1 percent of the world’s population.
In general, most of the countries that experienced substantial
increases in government restrictions or social hostilities involving
religion already had high or very high levels of restrictions or
hostilities. By contrast, nearly half of the countries that had
substantial decreases in restrictions or hostilities already scored
low. This suggests that there may be a gradual polarization taking
place in which countries that are relatively high in religious
restrictions are becoming more restrictive, while those that are
relatively low are becoming less restrictive.
are among the key findings of Rising
Restrictions on Religion,
Pew Forum’s second report on global restrictions on religion. The
study is part of the Pew-Templeton
Global Religious Futures project, an effort funded by
The Pew Charitable Trusts and the John Templeton Foundation to
analyze religious change and its impact on societies around the
Like the baseline report, the new study scores 198 countries and
territories (more than 99.5% of the world’s population) on a total of
33 measures phrased as questions about government restrictions and
social hostilities. The study uses 18 widely cited, publicly
available information sources, including reports by the United
Nations, the U.S. State Department and Human Rights Watch.
full report—including a summary of results, index scores by region,
results by country, the methodology and an interactive graphic
showing the levels of restrictions in the worlds’ 25 most populous
countries—is available on the Pew Forum’s website.