Middle East

Pew Forum Releases Landmark Survey of International Religious Freedom

70 percent of the world lives in areas with high restrictions on religion, report says.

Today the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life released what it claims to be the first quantitative worldwide study on how governments and societies infringe on the religious beliefs and practices of individuals.

The Global Restrictions On Religion report finds that only about one-third of the world's countries impose high restrictions on religion, but these 64 nations contain 70 percent of the world's 6.8 billion people (thanks to India and China). While almost half of the world's countries impose low restrictions on religion, this good sign is mitigated by the fact that they only account for 15 percent of world population.

"This is very surprising," said Timothy Shah, senior research scholar at the Institute on Culture, Religion and World Affairs at Boston University. "I was taken aback and disturbed by the number of people in the world with severe restrictions on their religious practice. It was higher than I had expected."

Combining social hostilities and government restrictions made for ...

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