Pew Center: Government Restrictions on Religion Rise, Social Hostilities Fall

From the Pew Research Center

Government restrictions on religion rose to a record high in 2018, while religion-related social hostilities fell slightly but remained near peak levels, according to Pew Research Center’s 11th annual study of restrictions on religion.

Restrictions by governments include official laws and actions that curtail religious beliefs and practices, while social hostilities encompass everything from religion-related armed conflict to harassment over clothing. The analysis covers policies that were in place and events that occurred in 198 countries and territories in 2018, the most recent year for which data was available.

Here are key findings from the report.

  1. Government restrictions in 2018 were at their highest level since 2007, when Pew Research Center began tracking these trends.
  2. Asia and the Pacific had the largest increase in government restrictions, while the Middle East and North Africa region continued to have the highest median level of restrictions.
  3. Social hostilities fell slightly in 2018 but remained near the 2017 peak.
  4. Among the 25 most populous countries, India, Egypt, Indonesia, Pakistan and Russia had the highest overall levels of restrictions involving religion, according to an analysis that combines government restrictions and social hostilities.
  5. Among the five regions included in the study, only the Americas experienced an increase in social hostilities levels.
  6. Authoritarian governments are more likely to restrict religion. 
  7. Christians and Muslims continue to be harassed in the most countries.

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