Catholic World News

74% of world's population living with 'high' levels of restriction on religious activities

June 23, 2016

Government restrictions on religion decreased slightly worldwide in 2014, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center.

In 2014 (the latest year for which statistics were available), 24% of the countries surveyed had "high" or "very high" levels of restriction on religious activity, the Pew study found. Since some of the most populous countries were also among the most restrictive, the survey concluded that 74% of the world's people-- 7.2 billion people-- live in countries with "high" or "very high" levels of restriction on religion.

However, those numbers were down slightly from the previous year, when Pew found that 28% of the world's nations, representing 78% of the world's population-- were highly restrictive.

In a more ominous trend, Pew reported a significant spike in the number of countries suffering from the effects of religious terrorism. The growing impact of the Islamic State, Boko Haram, and al Qaida were major factors in that trend. 

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  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Jun. 23, 2016 9:24 PM ET USA

    I just checked the Pew report. Neither the U.S. nor the European countries show up in any of its lists. However, Israel did make the list of countries with "very high social hostilities involving religion." Christians incurred a higher level of harassment around the world than all other religions. World maps in the report show that the U.S. has "moderate" government restrictions on religion and "high" social restrictions on religion. A Catholic would have to disagree with the "moderate" label.