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Religious Restrictions Increased for 2 Billion, Study Says

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A third of the world – about 2.2 billion people – live in nations where restrictions on religion have substantially increased, according to a new report.

The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life study, released Tuesday, also shows intolerant countries growing more hostile to religious freedom, and tolerant ones growing more accommodating.

"There seems to be somewhat of a polarization," particularly in countries with constitutional prohibitions against blasphemy, said Brian Grim, the primary researcher of the report. "When you have one set of restrictions in place then it's easier to add on."

Among those nations with the greatest increases in government religious restrictions, ranked from most to least populous, were: Egypt, France, Algeria, Uganda and Malaysia.

Among those nations where government restrictions declined, ranked from most to least populous, were: Greece, Togo, Nicaragua, Republic of Macedonia and Guinea-Bissau.

The report, culling data from 198 countries and territories from 2006 ...

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