A new report from the Pew Research Center offers some stark statistics. From Catholic News Agency:
“Government restrictions on religion and social hostilities involving religion increased in 2015 for the first time in three years,” the latest annual Pew Research Center report on “Global Restrictions on Religion” began.
In 2015, there were “very high” or “high” levels of animosity shown towards religious groups in 40 percent of countries, the report noted, either through restrictive government laws targeting religious groups or violence or harassment toward adherents of specific religions by other members of society.
The 2015 percentage was up six points from 2014, when 34 percent of countries reported such levels of hostility to religious groups.
Pew’s report drew from various sources on global religious freedom, both from the U.S. government (annual international religious freedom reports of the State Department and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom), the European Union and United Nations, and other non-governmental organizations.
The report was part of the “Pew-Templeton Global Religious Futures project,” funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts and the John Templeton Foundation.
Certain countries and regions of the world showed especially high hostility towards religious groups. Russia, Egypt, India, Pakistan, and Nigeria all showed both government harassment of and social animus toward certain religious groups.
Some of the most common instances of hostility included “mob violence” waged against people for their religious beliefs or violence conducted in the name of religion, and also “government harassment and use of force against religious groups” Pew explained.